The board welcomed a new member, Angie Nichols, during Tuesday evening's meeting. Nichols along with board member Steve Cash, who re-ran for office this past year and was unopposed, took their oath of office at the beginning of the school board meeting.
The South Putnam School Board also held its election of officers, which elected David Bombei as the president, Wesley Hacker as vice president and Steve Cash as secretary.
Along with the election of officers the board agreed to stay with Becky Samsel as treasurer and Terri Beasley as deputy treasurer. John Zeiner will also maintain his position as the corporation attorney.
The board heard a report from Tona Gardner on middle and high school professional development.
Gardner recently held a seminar on Jan. 8-9 with 16 teachers that included social studies, science, English and three sixth-grade teachers. The half-day workshop focused on the Common Core Literacy Standards that are part of the new Common Core Standards, which will soon be enacted in all grades.
"When the Common Core Standards were adopted the idea was that we were going to be better preparing our students for the skills that they would need in the career workplace and also in the college environment," Gardner said.
The Common Core Standards were adopted in August 2010. Currently, these standards are only being enacted in the kindergarten and first-grade classes. Next year second grade will be added and in 2014-15 it will be moved to all grades.
The Anchor Literacy Standards have three main goals, which include having the students read more nonfiction, identify and use evidence and develop skills to read complex text on their own.
In short, these new standards are looking for students to dissect the material they are learning, rather than having the teacher translate the text. Also, teachers will be looking for students to be citing more evidence from the text in their answers to any questions that a teacher may have for them.
In terms of assessments for these standards, Indiana is part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium.
"There are 23 states that are part of the PARCC consortium," Gardner said. "The PARCC test will likely be our accountability exam starting at the end of the school year for 2014-15. Right now our students take ISTEP tests starting with third-grade going through eighth grade and then at the high school level are exams are Algebra End of Course Assessment (ECA) and our sophomore English ECA. The PARCC assessments will come in and replace those ISTEP and ECA assessments."
The standards ask that the teachers spend less time interpreting and teach students to translate the text themselves.
"What the standards are asking is that our teachers take time to purposefully teach students how to read about, write about and talk about their content areas," Gardner said.
Three strategies for implementing these new standards are teachers giving expert guidance, equipping students with strategies and using multiple forms of text.
"There's a lot of energy and a lot of commitment in doing what is best for our students," said Gardner. "There's a gap in what they're doing K-12 and what they're expected to do in college. These standards are trying to close that gap."
Following Gardner's presentation the school board held a public hearing for the renovation and improvement project in the South Putnam Middle/High School and Central Elementary School.
The corporation will be spending close to $2 million on the upcoming project, which will reinforce the gym walls, fix the bricks on the outside of the building and make renovations at Central Elementary.
"The tax rate will stay the same with the renovations," Zeiner said.
The board agreed to extend its loan on the South Putnam High School and Middle School building through 2022, which allowed them to receive $2 million in funding.
With this loan, the board made a list of priorities, which they hope to accomplish with this money. First, the board will install the steel bracings in the gym, second will be fixing the walls in which bricks are falling off and lastly the board will look to do renovations at Central Elementary.
Central Elementary will hopefully receive additional classrooms as well as more restrooms, which are badly needed. Work will start as soon as March 11 for the gym walls and complete by graduation time in May. The brickwork and Central Elementary renovations will begin in the summer.
The board approved to move forward with the project and signed five resolutions, which included a Project Resolution, Patrons Petition Resolution, Resolution to Re-approve the School Building Corporation to act on the school board's behalf for funding, Third Amendment to the lease and official intent to reimburse expenditures.
The board also approved the resignation of high school custodian Stacey King.