S. Putnam has questions for state

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Part of Governor Mitch Daniels' address to the state may have a positive outlook in South Putnam's elementary schools, but it does raise some concerns that have not been addressed.

Supt. Bruce Bernhardt informed the school board that one of the priorities Daniels was going to speak on during his state of the state address was full-day kindergarten.

Daniels has been talking about implementing full-day kindergarten into the state's school system as of last year.

"I don't think anybody would argue that its not a bad idea at all," Bernhardt said about whether or not full-day kindergarten was a good or bad thing.

Bernhardt said he believed that full-day kindergarten was good for kids and that is was a positive move. But some of the details need to be worked out.

"How are they going to pay and how its going to be phased in," Bernhardt said about the details legislatures needed to work out.

Currently South Putnam's three elementary schools have one kindergarten teacher at school. With full-day kindergarten, the corporation would have to provide the teachers with an additional salary for the extra half-day.

But according to Bernhardt, the salary is only part of the mix. There is also the benefits of insurance, teacher retirement and social security.

On top of this, the corporation would have to look at the issues of costs incurred if the school building has classroom space available and to furnish the rooms with equipment and supplies.

"There's a lot of start up cost that are involved," Bernhardt said.

Another issue Bernhardt mentioned was the number of students that are phased in first. With the phasing in process taking up a stretch of time, Daniels is proposing to first integrate students from lower income families that would qualify for free and reduce lunches.

Bernhardt said the corporation would have to watch this because each elementary may only have a few children who qualify for this. Would the school provide full-day kindergarten for those select students in each building or would the corporation provide transportation for those students selected to one building?

Details like this have not been worked out by both the corporation and the legislature.

Another issue is the amount of space the school buildings have. If there is no extra space, the corporation would have to add on to make room for additional rooms.

"It's simply just a wait and see issue," Bernhardt said in reference to the details that still need to be ironed out.

In other business, the board:

-- Learned of the students from the junior/senior high school who were awarded the honor of student of the month. Those students were seventh-grader Cody Heller, eighth-grader Kelsey Searles, freshman Amanda Lund, sophomore Emily Rohrer, junior J.T. Chadd and senior Ian Redman.

-- Approved the hiring of part time Central Elementary food service worker Kathy Bond and part time high school food service worker Denise Vogt. The board also approved the resignations of bus driver Phyllis Julian and high school assistant wrestling coach Aaron Bright, and the termination of Central Elementary food service workers Carol Fagin and Lisa Tandy.

-- Approved the temporary loan bid from First National Bank of Cloverdale for $2.8 million with an interest rate of 4.13 percent.

-- Approved the FCCLA request for an overnight trip to Indianapolis on March 8-10.

-- Approved transportation director Chuck Shaffer's request to increase the extra curricular trip payments for the drivers from $6 to $7.25 with a minimum of $25. The board also approved Shaffer's second request to increase the pay per hour for the training driver to $9 per hour.

-- Approved Belle Union youth baseball league's request to use the ball diamonds in Belle Union.

-- Informed the audience that several members would participate in round table discussion with legislators on Friday.

-- Reminded the audience that there would be a legislative update at the Farm Bureau Insurance, 1001 N. Jackson St., Greencastle, at 8 a.m. Saturday. That session is open to the public and will feature state legislators discussing current bills in the statehouse.

The board meets regularly every third Monday on the month at 7 p.m. in the music room at Central Elementary. Due to a holiday, the board will meet again on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

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