North Putnam School Corp. superintendent Murray Pride told board members at Thursday night's meeting how impressed he is with the amount of service given by staff and students to various causes.
"They help those in our community, state and national who need help. They raised $8,800 with service projects, many around Thanksgiving and Christmas," he said. "But they do much more helping with cleanups and donations of books and toys and other things. These are good lessons to learn and I think we do it very well."
Board President Debbie Sillery agreed with Murray.
"One of the greatest gifts we can teach our children is to have compassion," she said.
Under new business, the group spent some time hearing from high school principal Alan Zerkle and assistant principal Scott Spencer about class scheduling. After much investigation, Spencer and Zerkle told the group they were recommending traditional schedules over block schedules.
"The diversity of our program with Area 30 students and interns is probably not going to allow us to do a mixed schedule," explained Spencer.
The importance of consistency with seeing the same teacher daily is an important plus in the traditional schedule. A student who is ill for two or more days might go an entire week without seeing their teacher under a block schedule.
Right now, the school is looking at having seven periods with 48 minutes in each class. There is some discussion going on about how to fit the silent reading program of 13 minutes daily into the schedule and still have time for teachers to meet with department heads.
Board member Dale McGaughey asked the administrators to try to look at keeping the reading program. He also noted that a few years ago the school cut back on the amount of time students spent in school. He felt if necessary they should look at adding that time back in.
"It's a very popular program that we don't want to eliminate," responded Zerkle.
Sillery commented on the importance of improving the ISTEP scores and felt the consistency would ultimately help those scores go up.
"The most important thing is that we make sure we are using our time effectively," Spencer said. "When it comes right down to it the traditional approach may be the best."
"It's especially important in math, science and social studies to have a consistent five days a week," he said. "If you miss a day you have a hard time catching up."
Pride discussed a big change for schools coming from the Indiana Superintendent of Education's Office -- there will no longer be parent conferences within the 180 days that schools are required to be in session.
There will also be no professional development in that time period. This means that there will not be half days for students or parent conferences in the afternoon and evening.
"Finding a way to get them done is somewhat of a challenge," said Pride.
He is working with classroom associations on the best solutions to having the conferences.
The only exception to this new rule is allowing for one and two-hour delays due to inclement weather.
Pride also asked for permission to send notice of reduction in force and/or notice of non-renewal letters to certified staff if necessary. Board members approved his request, with Andy Beck casting the lone negative vote.
"There are alternative ways to look at cutting back before getting rid of teachers," said Beck. "We need to cut back on other things first."
Pride pointed out that they are in the process of running numbers for next year and looking at enrollments and course offerings. Because the school corporation is required by law to give a timely notice, Pride said they may have to send out notifications.
"It doesn't necessarily mean we are going to have to do it," said Pride. "We just have to be prepared to send letters."
The council looked at summer school sessions at the high school, including drivers' education. Some discussion took place about declining enrollments and the eventual possibility of contracting independent driving academies to teach the course.
"At some point we may have to get out of the business and go to private contractors," said Pride.
He also commented on the difficulty on finding cars to rent for the summer as well as declining enrollment in the program.
The use of online summer classes is being considered for summer sessions. Some correspondence classes could be taken in this manner and the high school administration is considering the possibility of making it available.
Charlie Boller reported to the board that there is now an Alumni Band. They are looking for more members to attend the next meeting on April 8 at 7 p.m. at the high school. They will be meeting every Wednesday for practice and will offer a concert in May. Contact Band Director John Pinson at NPHS for more information.