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Thursday, May 5, 2016

South Putnam prepares for the summer

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

As the school year comes to a close, the South Putnam School Board is making its summer plans. During the relatively short monthly meeting Monday, the board received an update from high school principal Kieth Puckett as well as a transportation report from Neil Rissler.

Principal Puckett updated the board on the year as a whole as well as end of the year testing results.

South Putnam is currently ranked as one of the top three schools in the state for Advanced Placement (AP) improvement.

"What's really good is that six years ago we didn't have AP courses and now we're getting an award for them," explained Puckett. "We have now doubled our pass rate in this past year."

In honor of this achievement the school will be receiving an award at the statehouse on June 28.

Puckett explained to the board the results of the ECA (end of course assessment) testing, which is a computerized test all students must pass in order to graduate. Three tests are included in the assessment biology one, algebra one and English 10.

This year, students scored at a 56 percent rate in biology, scored 78 percent rate on the algebra one test and English passed at an 88 percent rate.

Puckett noted that one South Putnam freshman, Phillip Williams, received an 800/800 on the biology assessment, a perfect score in Indiana. Williams was instructed by Mrs. Hodge.

The board also heard an update on the night school, which is taught by Tona Gardner weekdays from 3:30-7:30 p.m.

"The night school does such a good job of helping get kids to the finish line," said Puckett. "I'm a big fan of the night school, it's really served a big part of our population."

There are currently 31 students enrolled in the night school who have earned 105 high school credits. By June 1 there will be 14 students where night school played a part in their diploma.

Night school classes are made possible by the Western Indiana Knoy Learning Center grant, which is quickly coming to an end.

Puckett is hoping for renewal of the grant in the upcoming year, however he warned the board that he would be back asking for help with funding if the grant does not get renewed. The grant pays for the instructor as well as a subscription for an online platform for learning, PLATO.

"We have great kids," said Puckett. "It's just a really good place to be."

In preparation for the upcoming year, Rissler updated the board on the transportation system. Rissler and his staff are currently working on new bus routes in hopes in balancing miles, time and loads.

"It's a team effort," explained Rissler. "A lot of the routes will be very similar to what they are this year with some changes on the fringes."

It is their hope to limit routes to around 25 miles average. This required shifting many of the drivers' routes in order for them to end up closer to their own homes, thus wasting less gasoline.

"One of my goals is to try to cut down on as many empty miles as possible and to cut down on fuel usage," explained Rissler. "We are also limiting any cross-overs on state roads. It adds a few miles here and there, but it does make it safer."

Recently, the county changed load limits on many of the bridges. Due to these changes, bus routes will now avoid crossing over bridges that are below the buses limit.

"Hopefully we get it where everyone might be happy," said Rissler. "It's still coming together."

Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt announced to the board that moving from Reelsville Elementary to the new classrooms in Central Elementary and the junior high will begin June 11.

"We'll be working here for a good while in the summer getting things moved in," said Bernhardt.

Technology Director Steve Ricketts shared some exciting news with the board as Five-Star Technologies will now be endorsed by the Department of Education.

"It's a big endorsement for Five-Star," explained Ricketts. "We're working with schools now to help transform their curriculum into a digital curriculum. We're helping teachers make that jump from a traditional classroom to the modern classroom."

This endorsement from the state will also include administrator boot-camps, which will teach principals and superintendents to help understand certain initiatives such as One-to-One.

The board approved the resignations of Lisa Rogers, a high school math teacher, as well as Deanna Bratcher, an instructional assistant at Central Elementary, and Anne Hutson of food services at Central.

The board also approved the retirements of the following personnel: Teresa Vapor, the Reelsville principal, effective June 7; Ann Bottorff, a Central teacher; Linda Blue, a Reelsville instructional assistant; Joseph Sadler, a custodian at Reelsville; and Nita Houk a library instructional assistant at Reelsville.

Also approved was the maternity leave of high school teacher Amanda Graves as well as the hiring of Amanda King as the high school agriculture teacher, Matthew Steward as a high school math teacher and Renata Henderickson as the high school yearbook instructor.

"I do want to take a moment to wish the best for our retiring employees," said Bernhardt. "We have some employees that have put several years in with us and we want to wish them the best in their retirement and the best for the future."

South Putnam is currently looking for volunteers to help harvest the fish in the aquaculture lab on May 24 from 4-8 p.m. For more information contact Puckett at the high school.

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