Area 30 Board weighing budget modifications

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Area 30 Interlocal Board of Directors continues to consider whether modifications are needed to keep the career center sustainable financially.

How many students each of the high schools in Putnam County and Eminence sends to Area 30, as well as unpredictability when it comes to average daily enrollment (ADM) funding, has complicated the issue. Another part is attracting potential students to programs at Area 30.

The board, Area 30 Director Lora Busch and Assistant Director Chad Nunley discussed the career center’s budget model being based on ADM rather than enrollment during its regular meeting Tuesday morning.

Busch emphasized that some potential Area 30 students are being missed, leading to less consistency with schools sending a set amount of students each year. Highlighting the opportunities available, she said more than 1,800 dual credits and 250 certifications were being awarded this year.

Busch provided that going to the ADM model would be preferable in terms of being a long-term obligation to Area 30. She added that this would mean security with having an interlocal relationship with the schools.

Cloverdale Schools Superintendent Greg Linton noted that not only is ADM shrinking and creates its own budget problems, but that duplicating courses between sending schools and Area 30 was also a concern.

“We need as a board to take a hard look at what courses we’re offering and not compete with Area 30,” he said. Career and technical education (CTE) courses have been added at individual schools to satisfy requirements under the state’s Next Level Programs of Study (NPLS).

North Putnam Superintendent Nicole Singer-Allee commented that the enrollment model would allow her to “control (her) destiny financially.” Busch noted that Area 30 was still enrolling students, and as such a hard budget was not being presented yet.

“Righting the ship is looking at what kids not coming here are doing at school,” Busch said. She added that there was a need to determine gaps with how many students are intended go to Area 30 versus how many actually do.

“Flexibility is the name of the game with a small career center,” Busch said.

South Putnam Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt put forward that it was a “hard sell” for high school students to give up half a day in their last few years.

“It’s sad that we’re looking at so few numbers when the opposite should be true,” interim Eminence Schools Superintendent Kim Tucker said. She suggested that buy-in from counselors, principals and parents was crucial to Area 30’s viability.

Singer-Allee finally posed that with the ADM model, it would be unfair for a school corporation to contribute funds for sending 90 students when 120 would actually be sent.

The board ultimately voted to table the discussion. A special meeting to further consider the budget modifications was set for 8 a.m. on Monday, May 17.

In other business:

• The board approved an amended version of Area 30’s three-year lease with GC Fulfillment, LLC, otherwise referred to as Ascena Retail. The change was noted in the lease that Area 30 would not pay for any space in the annex.

• The board approved 2021-22 subleases for Old National Trail Special Services and West Central Indiana Educational Service Center. It was noted that there would be no increase.

• Busch announced that CNA certification exams will be May 24. It was noted that schools were asked to be flexible with students taking final exams early or at different times. Permission slips have also been given to students due to them being required to be at Area 30 for the day.

• The board approved the following personnel items:

— Julie Stone given a reduction-in-force notice due to low enrollment in Area 30’s EMT class. As such, her contract has been canceled for the 2021-22 school year. Busch said the class would still be “on the books.”

— Scott Livesay resigning as the CEO instructor effective at the end of the school year.

­— Regina Dean resigning from Area 30’s cafeteria staff effective May 13.

Busch, Nunley and the entire board were all present for the meeting.

The next regular meeting of the Area 30 Board is scheduled for Tuesday, June 8 at 9 a.m. in the Old National Trail boardroom.

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