South Putnam students excelling at Area 30

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Area 30 Career Center Director Lora Bush updated the South Putnam School Board on student progress during the regular meeting Monday night.

Bush told the board that in the 2013-14 school year, a pool of South Putnam juniors earned 45 dual college credits. In the 2014-15 school year, the group of South Putnam juniors and seniors accumulated an additional 240 college credits.

"Last year, South Putnam students earned 46 credentials or certifications, such as EMT, CNA, a welding certificate, OSHA 10-hour safety or a professional culinary certification," Bush added.

"We are proud of all of our students, but we are really proud of those students with accomplishments that will follow them throughout their lives."

She noted there has been talk from the Higher Learning Commission about changing the teacher credentials as to who can teach dual credit courses. While this is not in the works yet, she said a survey shows seven out of 10 teachers in Indiana high schools would need additional education to continue teaching dual credit courses.

Bush also discussed the statewide teacher shortage, specifically focusing on technology education.

"I was tasked with getting info about post-secondary education in career in tech ed ... we honed in on one specific area and that was technology education and engineering, such as Nathan (Aker)," Bush said, noting the results were surprising.

She spoke with representatives with Purdue, Ball State and Indiana State University technology and education programs. Currently, ISU only has 10 students in the program, graduated five last year. Purdue graduated three of the students suited for a technology education position and only have 15 in program currently. Ball State graduated three last year and have three this year.

"That's the students we would go after (to teach) tech ed classes?" Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt said.

Bush explained that is the frightening circumstances schools will be seeing in the future, and the trend is growing among other courses as well.

Bush said currently, Area 30 has some teachers licensed through a workplace specialist license, but certain courses are required to go through a four-year collegiate training. Although, alternative licensing has become a topic of conversation.

"I have some excellent teachers in my building with workplace specialist licensing. You can't say, 'They come from alternative licensing, they can't be nearly as good as a person with a four-year teaching degree.' Some are as good and some are better," Bush stressed.

Bush updated the board on additional funding available to the schools through $5 million in grants available throughout the state for college and technology education courses.

For the 2015-16 year, schools will receive additional funding for students with nine or more dual credit hours focused on CTE or students who secure six or more credits for CTE-concentration classes.

In the 2016-17 school year, funding will be available for secured certificates or credentials as high school students.

Meanwhile, Bernhardt said the upgrades around the school are now complete. The parking lots were completed and restriped over fall break. The track is complete, as well as the final touches on the main entryway to the gym.

"We've made a lot of progress on these projects," Bernhardt said during his superintendent's report.

The board approved the purchase of a four-wheel drive F250 from Bob Bowen Ford in the amount of $32,970. The truck will be used to plow snow in the parking lots during the winter months.

Bernhardt said the 1989-model truck previously used for plowing has been sitting on the wayside for a couple years due to being in disrepair.

In other business, the board:

* Approved the 2016 budget. A public hearing was hosted last month and now the budget will be sent in for review.

* Voted to declare surplus equipment, including old furniture and equipment deemed of no value to the corporation.

The board has to declare the items as surplus in order to get rid of the equipment.

* Approved the hire of Jessica Casteel as part-time Central Elementary food service worker and Latrista Tirey as a custodian at the middle and high school.

* Approved the following extracurricular employments: Jason Fox as eighth-grade boys' basketball coach, Krista Powell as eighth-grade girls' basketball coach, Matt Thoennes as ninth-grade boys' basketball coach and Josh Hendrickson as elementary wrestling coach.

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