Elementaries report ISTEP results

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Central Elementary and Fillmore Elementary principal Brad Hayes appeared before the South Putnam School Board Tuesday to report the ISTEP results of the two schools.

At Central, 77.9 percent of students passed in English and math in all grades, compared to the 73.6 percent state average. For Fillmore 75.5 percent of students passed.

"I'm very pleased any time our schools score at the 75th percentile," Hayes said. "We are typically in the 75th percentile, sometimes a little more."

Hayes said his staffs are now focusing on what they need to do in terms of remediation with specific students before the spring testing.

The principal emphasized that both schools typically do a good job of taking children who perhaps don't perform well as first or second graders and turn things around by the time they leave as sixth graders.

"By the time we get these kids in the sixth grade, they're doing really well. I give the teachers a lot of credit for that," Hayes said.

"I'm very proud of our schools. We can compete with anybody in the county," he added.

Hayes also spoke with the board about the success of the elementary spell bowl teams, in particular Fillmore. At the regional competition Central hosted recently, South Putnam's three elementary schools, Fillmore, Central and Reelsville, placed in the top three of their class.

Furthermore, Fillmore placed 10th in the state out of 113 schools in their division. Team members, several of whom were at Tuesday's meeting, were Allacyn Arnold, Jessica Jones, Jake Berg, Angel Nield, Maddy King, Katie Hewitt, Kendall DeHaan, Elizabeth Bunton, Lydia Zeiner, Meredith Trump, Allison Bunton, Grace Taylor and Cheyenne Shoemaker. The team's coaches were Penny Long and Barbara Bennett.

Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt shared with the board and the public some reflections on school budgets, given the state's current economic situation and what that could mean to schools.

"As the legislature works through these next few months, it's hard to know what bills will be passed off and what bills will become law," Bernhardt said.

However, with Gov. Mitch Daniels talking about cuts to the state budget, it looks as if education expenditures will, at best, flat-line. This could mean trouble for all schools, given that things tend to get more expensive.

"It's going to be a tough two years," Bernhardt said. "It's way too early to know how it's going to fall, but it's a sure thing that money is going to be tight."

With this in mind, the board will likely be having to look into making cuts where it can once the budget situation is known.

The superintendent also spoke about misleading figures people sometimes like to throw around regarding school spending. Although it is true that just 60 cents of every dollar spent on schools go into the classroom, it is not because the corporations are wasting this money.

The other 40 percent goes to things like transportation, capital projects, special education, bus replacement and debt-service funds. According to statute, this is where this money has to go, not into the classroom.

"The money is being spent on very specific purposes, and it has to be spent on those purposes," Bernhardt said. "If you look only at the general fund, 85 percent of available dollars are spent in the classroom.

The board also approved the 2009-10 academic calendar, which is essentially the same as this year's calendar. First teacher day will be Aug. 12, with first student day following on Aug. 13. Christmas break will run from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1.

Jan. 4 will be a records day, with the second semester beginning on Jan. 5. Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day will both be built-in makeup days if necessary. The second semester will end on May 25 and commencement will be May 29.

The board also approved a pair of personnel matters, hiring Paul Scott as a high school custodian and Jill McCammack as a second junior high swim coach, if necessary. Her actual hiring will be dependent upon the number of swimmers who sign up.

"It's strictly pending numbers when they get started here in the next month," Bernhardt said.

The South Putnam School Board meets regularly on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Central Elementary School music room.

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