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Thursday, May 5, 2016

NP Board opposes attendance centers

Friday, November 19, 2010

BAINBRIDGE -- The North Putnam Community School Corporation school board voted not to pursue the idea of attendance centers at both Bainbridge and Roachdale elementary schools at its regularly scheduled board meeting Thursday night.

The board voted 5-1 in line with a recommendation from the district's Attendance Center Committee, which includes assistant superintendent Kevin Emsweller, who gave a report on the committee's findings before a formal recommendation was given to the board.

Under the attendance center plan, all preschool to second grade students would attend Bainbridge and third to fifth graders would all attend school at Roachdale.

The plan came about earlier this year as a possible solution to relieve some of the overcrowding at the school in Bainbridge.

After researching the issue, surveying the school community and talking with other schools that have changed similar grade level configurations, the committee developed a list of both positive and negative consequences of implementing the plan.

"After we discussed the research available, we found it difficult that making such a change would be positive," Emsweller said. "It showed significant achievement loss during each transition year."

While the committee advised that the attendance center plan should not be implemented now, it still wants to look into the idea further, Emsweller said.

He then outlined some of the other considerations the board should think about, including the cost and length of student travel, particularly in a school district that covers a large area and the possible increase or decrease in parent involvement affected by the distance to school and the number of schools families attend.

Other things to look into were the number of students in each grade level that may affect classrooms or course offerings, whether the neighborhood or community close to the school would remain open, the number of school transitions for students and the opportunity for interaction between age groups.

"The school corporation needs to continue to adapt to change of circumstances such as student enrollment. An example from last year, shifting teaching personnel when appropriate has worked pretty well," he said. "We need to maintain this flexibility in these changing times."

School board president Andy Beck voted against the recommendation and said the attendance center plan should not fall off the board's radar.

"I think by not pursuing or trying to do something like this, we are hurting some of the education of our kids by keeping everyone spread apart," he said. "We are one corporation, not a southern part of the corporation and a northern part of the corporation.

"I know what some of the parents are saying, some students do get on the bus really early in the day, but I do think the transportation part of it can be worked out."

Positive consequences of the attendance center plan would create more efficient use of resources, provide more equity in programming, increase future opportunities to work together for students, more consistency in class size, help teachers teach same material at same time, Emsweller said.

"Our decision should not be made based on what's best for administrators, not be based on what's best for teachers, nor even should it be based on what's best for the parents," Emsweller said. "It should be based on what's best for students."

The community survey found that 36 percent out of the 305 people who took the survey were in favor of the plan, while 64 percent were opposed.

Board member Jackie Simpson, who also served on Attendance Center Committee, said a constant theme in the survey results was to group grades three, four and five together because they were the ones that took the ISTEP+ test.

However, she ultimately voted not to pursue the attendance center plan for the time being.

"Right now, that is not logistically possible with the buildings we have," she said.

In other business, the board heard a presentation from district bus driver Randy Neeley about the results of the Fill the Bus fundraiser.

Neeley said the bus weighed around 7,000 pounds after it was filled with donated cans of food.

The collected food was given to Bainbridge Christian Church, Roachdale Christian Church and Russellville Community Church during distributions on Thursday.

"The results were beyond my wildest dreams," Neeley said.

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So what did the bus weigh before it was filled?

-- Posted by anonymous101 on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 1:12 AM

I'm glad the board voted against attendance centers. I just wanted to point some things as this idea will likely come up again in the future.

First, the overcrowding is not due to a lack of space as there are empty classrooms at Bainbridge. It is due to a lack of teachers, which, unfortunately, is not something that will be fixed any time soon. I mean, we just RIFed 17 or so teachers throughout the corporation and it was said at a board meeting that more RIFs were possible this year.

Second, in regards to buildings that cannot accommodate attendance centers the way people would want them to, I cannot see us -- us being the community at large -- putting up a new building, or modifying an old one, to make this happen. We are strapped for cash as it is and I believe even the school board would admit that increasing personnel is the priority over new or modified buildings.

Third, Mr. Beck said, "I know what some of the parents are saying, some students do get on the bus really early in the day, but I do think the transportation part of it can be worked out." The big question: How? That's really what I want to know. Show me how my kid would personally be affected. Maybe that's asking a lot, but transportation is a big deal to me because I don't want my kid on a bus for an hour or more each day. And if my kid is on the bus, I want to know it's being done safely, unlike the way students claim they are transported to Area 30 with 3 to a seat.

-- Posted by sendmailthere on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 5:58 AM

"The school corporation needs to continue to adapt to change of circumstances such as student enrollment. An example from last year, shifting teaching personnel when appropriate has worked pretty well," he said. "We need to maintain this flexibility in these changing times."

Yes, that moving teachers thing around has worked real well. I think some of the teachers that were moved were not really in "the best interest of the students." Especially when you move teachers from the high school with an elementary endorsement, but have not taught elementary kids ever in their life. By the way, has anybody consulted with the teachers, or are they just all pawns? Maybe the board should do a morale survey with the teachers.

-- Posted by nobody important on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 7:42 AM

Congratulations to the NP School Board and members of this committee. Keep up the good work! Keep looking at alternatives that best serve kids, save money, best serve kids, deal with limited finding, and best serve kids. IT IS TOUGH! Keep at it. Open discussion works well when everyone works together. I hope all other schools are watching and listening.

-- Posted by cvilleguy on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 9:14 AM

Surely someone out there can understand how Roachdale and Bainbridge seem to flank the Middle School and High School. Does anyone truly consider the students that would have attended Russellville if it were still open????? From Russellville to Bainbridge is a very long long distance to travel.

-- Posted by 06purple18 on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 10:12 AM

Dear Nobody Important,

Teachers are not pawns. They are employees. "a morale survey with the teachers?" What? Really? There are plenty of folks with and without teaching licenses who are eager to try their hand at teaching.

If anyone of the current staff is not happy to have the opportunity to mold our future citizens, may I suggest that individual consider tendering his/her resignation?

With the RIF's and the annual crop of education degree graduates, we are not lacking a supply of educators.

-- Posted by sassylass on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 10:32 AM

I agree sassylass.... I have my elementary education degree and I am VERY eager to try my hand at teaching. I graduated from North Putnam and I want to teach in NP. It's just a bad time for new teachers to get into the field. If current teachers are not happy it would be GREATLY appreciated if they would allow those who would be happy a chance!

-- Posted by NPGrad on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 10:47 AM

If we are truly looking at the best "interest" of the kids, then attendance centers are the way to go. People need to look at the broad spectrum of the idea instead of being against it because my son/daughter will be on the bus for an hour or I don't want them to go to RDale or Bbridge!

The reason I truly believe attendance centers are in the best "interest" of the kids is because it allows them time to adapt to their social network of friends before the enter the most stressful time in their life "adolescence"! Right now kids are being flushed from Rdale and Bbridge to the Middle School at a time when they are starting to go through "puberty" and we are asking them to handle the emotional consequences of making new friends, dealing with a new school, and asking them to adapt socially.

With attendance centers we can ease this transition by all kids of the same grades, at the same school, and therefore reduce stress and I truly believe the best outcome is that of greater learning ability and higher test scores! This would also eliminate the teaching differences and competition of the Rdale vs. Bbridge teachers that does exist. Also, all students would therefore be taught on the same level of playing field, at the same educational center, and all students would truly benefit in the long run.

Whats the down fall to attendance centers? Would it be kids being on the bus for a longer period of time. That may be of a benefit too, as they may learn something, get out of the closed minded box their parents choose for them to live, and truly allow them to open their eyes to what else is out there!

-- Posted by npintrouble on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 11:42 AM

Splitting the school like that whether good or bad isn't going to help the situation that school is facing...how about the fact that they have only ONE nurse for all FOUR schools??? So a kid gets sick at school, the nurse is only there one day a week, who gets to help the kid? The secretary. Degree for nursing in secretary jobs now huh? Or how about Bainbridge has only ONE special needs teacher for all 5 grades and every disorder gets put in one room, all this due to budget cuts??? Whose suffering here?? I've seen some sad things in education lately, but these things take the cake.

-- Posted by Melontwist1977 on Sat, Nov 20, 2010, at 12:43 AM

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