In a brief meeting Wednesday, the Greencastle School Board approved a request to cut back on the number of benchmark assessments administered to students during the school year.
In the past, the schools have administered four benchmark assessments per school year. However, the district curriculum committee proposes reducing that number to three.
Assistant Supt. Kirk Freeman told board members Barry Fisher, Jack Berry, Barbara Bryan and Mike Dean that the first and last benchmarks administered are useful in gauging student learning, but the second and third assessments were too close together to implement effective changes.
He said the committee now recommends giving the second benchmark in January and omitting the third. However, at the middle school, four benchmark assessments will still be given at the request of the teaching staff to coincide with the four grading periods.
Ridpath Principal Tammy Brewer Bacon said too often the teachers have no sooner sorted through the results of the second assessment and started to implement changes than it is time to administer another assessment.
Freeman said while assessments are encouraged, the teaching trend is to get away from having so much data that the emphasis seems to be more on collecting the information rather than on making effective changes.
The request was approved unanimously.
The board also approved some new course proposals for the middle school. The classes include Cultures Around The World, which replaces the Current Events course and places more emphasis on multi-race relations and how they relate to current events.
Also being added are Language Arts Topics and Science Topics. These courses are a change that allows teachers to emphasize and reinforce specific standards that students might struggle with throughout the year. The new classes follow the same course as the Math Topics class, which has helped improve math scores.
The course proposal was approved.
In the financial report, the board saw that at the end of April, the General Fund had a negative balance of $98,972.79. Green said the fund is once again in the black after receive of a state payment, but it will likely go into the red again before the end of May. Once the June tax draw is received, Green said, the corporation should be financially healthy again.
The Capital Projects Fund is also in the red with a balance of negative $313,000.
Even with the two negative fund balances, the school district still has a positive cash flow, Green said.
In personnel matters, the board approved:
-- The resignation of high school principal Susan Phillips as of July 1. Applications for that position will be accepted until late May, and interviewed in early June.
-- The resignation of Patricia Gregory, Geoff Price, Dan Layton and Robert Berry at the end of the school year.
-- A medical leave for Barbara Edwards through the end of the school year, and her resignation at the end of the school year.
-- Hiring Dan Layton, Troy Greenlee, Terry Ross and Allen Brown for summer driver education courses.
-- Hiring Lori Hile, Mike Schimpf and Donovan Wheeler as summer high school teachers.
-- Hiring Pam Taylor, Jeff D. Miller and Melissa Hoskins as instructional assistants for the summer.
-- Hiring Vicki Montgomery, Carolyn McKee, Kara Thomas and Kacey Seaver as summer Jump Start teachers.
-- Medical leaves for Nancy Chybowski and Steve Covert.
-- Volunteers Jeff McKinney for high school color guard and Matt Welker for high school baseball.
-- Hiring summer bus barn clean up workers Vincent Sly and Carol Clark.
In other business, the board:
-- Approved the School Wellness Policy as presented by wellness committee.
-- Accepted the Energy Management Conservation Policy from Energy Education. The program is aimed at saving money on energy costs.
-- Learned that the board has an appointment to make to the Putnam County Library Board. The term of Drew Brattain will expire July 1 and he has indicated he does not wish to serve a second term. Anyone interested in that appointment should contact Supt. Green at 653-9771 to be submitted for consideration to the board.
-- Approved the updated student handbooks for the 2006-07 school year.
-- Accepted a donation of $500 from Wal-Mart in support of the CUBS Tutoring Program.
-- Recognized high school student Marion Zennie as a National Merit Scholarship winner.
-- Learned that middle school teacher Mike VanRensselaer has been recognized as Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year.
-- Heard that Thursday is the opening of the bids for the corn boilers, and assuming bids are acceptable, Green said he would like to have a 12:30 p.m. meeting Thursday, May 18 to vote on those bids.
The school board regularly meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Miller Education Center, 522 Anderson St., Greencastle. The meetings are open to the public.