Several parents concerned that their primary school students might not have the opportunity to participate in a gifted and talented program asked the Greencastle School Board to reconsider revisions being considered for the program.
Parent Mark Wood told the school board he has concerns about a proposal to modify the current G/T program to cluster those students back into regular classrooms.
In recent years, primary students with high test scores have been directed toward the combined second and third grade G/T class at Tzouanakis Intermediate School.
But unlike past years when parents have been informed in February that their children would fit into the G/T program, this year parents have been told there might not be a G/T class for their children, parent Monica Fennell stated. She said she was concerned that the program is being eliminated behind closed doors by not testing children.
Kathy Mack, assistant to the superintendent, told the parents and board members Jack Berry, Barbara Bryan, Mike Dean, Jeff McCall and Tony Robertson that a proposal for the G/T program is in process, but has not been finalized.
There is no intent not to serve the needs of the gifted or higher ability students, Mack said, but committees are looking at how to serve the needs in a more cost-effective manner. There will be more conversation about the delivery format of the program, she said.
But Wood and other parents stated they were concerned that there was no parent input before recommendations were made.
Karen Hirt, who teaches the second/third grade G/T class, said she thinks a better job needs to be done to identify the children that fit into the program. She said she has heard that the criteria to identify those children has changed to require a higher testing score.
Mack assured the parents that the board-based curriculum committee will look at a revision of the G/T proposal and will contact those who want to have input on it.
She also noted that testing for next year's G/T class will be conducted later in April, but a recommendation on the program will not be made until May.
Meanwhile, the school board also learned that a broad-based committee could be set up to look at a different type of school calendar, such as year-round or balanced calendars, to see if there is any interest in the community for this type of school year.
Supt. Green said the current school years are based on an agricultural calendar with three months off in the summer. But other school districts have changed to have less time off in the summer, but more time off spaced throughout the school year.
He emphasized that the committee would take just a preliminary look at the issue.
The board also approved a program to give student drivers more experience before getting behind the wheel of the car as a supplement to the drivers education course.
Margo Thomas presented the TeenAgers Driving Safe and Smart program, which features a driving simulator at a cost of $12,000.
With the board's approval, Thomas said several fundraisers will be conducted during the next year to purchase at least one of the simulators to be available in the high school.
Thomas said she and her husband Steve traveled to Warsaw to see one of the simulators, and found that it gives a printout of a student's performance and allows testing for students with disabilities to see how they will do behind the wheel of an auto.
The cost of the simulator includes delivery, setup and training instructors on the device.
The project received the unanimous approval of the board.
In other business, the board:
* Approved additions to the Students Services Summary as presented by Shawn Gobert. The review includes a recommendation for hiring an additional high school counselor, as well as information on suicide intervention, and a new section on war and military conflict.
Gobert stated that the schools want to continue to explore an agreement with a local agency on how to get immediate help for students at risk of harming themselves. The issue has arisen after some families fail to seek help for suicidal students. A proposal on this issue would be brought to the school board for final approval.
He also noted that the schools recently sent information home to parents on how to talk to their children about the current war and military involvement. Some positive feedback has been received about that information.
* Approved a proposal to change the primary school grading periods from a six-week schedule to nine weeks. With the change, all Greencastle schools will be on a nine-week grading system starting next school year.
* Approved NEOLA Policy 5461 to allow students to take high school course work prior to entering grade nine and to carry those grades and credit into high school if they choose.
* Saw a PowerPoint presentation on the high school French student's recent trip to Quebec.
* Heard a presentation of the social studies textbook recommendation of the district curriculum committee. Approval will be requested at the May board meeting.
* Granted permission to advertise for food and dairy bids for the next school year.
* Approved summer athletic camps.
* Approved a revision of the athletic codes.
* Declared some computer equipment of no value so that it can be disposed of.
* Approved the driver education program guidelines. Cost will be $275 per student, which is a $5 increase from last year.
* Approved an overnight trip for chemistry teacher John Garner to take student Zach Newman to an international science competition in May.
In personnel matters, the board approved:
* The retirement of Linda Raines as elementary teacher at the end of the school year.
* The retirement of Darlene Bee as secondary teacher at the end of the school year.
* The resignation of Glenn Hile as freshman boys basketball coach.
* Sally Martin as volunteer lay coach for high school girls tennis.
* A leave of absence for Amy Wheeler.
* Randy Nispel and Debbie Nispel as volunteer lay coaches for middle school girls track.
* Marjorie "Peggy" Wood as volunteer lay assistant coach for middle school girls track.
* Nancy Knapp as 12-month custodian at McAnally Center.
* Dee Greenlee as volunteer lay assistant high school softball coach.
* The resignation of Lori Shuck as middle school cheerleader sponsor.
* Hiring Celeste Perry, Joyce Jensen and Erin Blaydes as Summer KIDS Program teachers. Rehired as KIDS instructional assistants were Cheryl Phillips, Jill Coy, Michael Glenn and Patricia Lady. Sharla Arnold will be rehired as KIDS coordinator.
* Rehiring Dan Layton, Allen Brown and William Henson as summer driver education instructors. Also hired as summer driver education instructor is Troy Greenlee.
* The termination of Noble New due to elimination of position. This is a reduction in force move due to lack of funds.
* Non-renewal of Ian Samson as seventh grade middle school science teacher. The recommendation was for not meeting standards of performance.
The next meeting of the school board will be a special public session set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 16 at the Miller Education Center. The purpose will be to take action on the bleacher bids for McAnally Center.