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Federal program helping students

February 27, 2008
The Crawford County Community School Corp. Board of Trustees last Tuesday night received an overview of the Title I program, as officials from each of the five elementary schools detailed various highlights of the program that assists low-income students.

Patoka Elementary Principal Nan DuPont, who oversees the Title I program, said the program has 24 instructional staff spread out over the five elementary schools, with English receiving the most federal grant dollars and Leavenworth the least, as funding is allocated based on student demographics.

"We'll see more assistance at some schools than the others, or more dollars being spent at some schools than the others," she said, explaining guidelines require those dollars be spent on programs and staff that benefit only Title I students.

That means that Title I personnel cannot be used as substitute teachers and may not perform clerical duties for classroom teachers, DuPont said. Instead, they must work only with Title I students, she said.

Much of that work is spent in small groups or individually, so students can receive more detailed attention. Various instructional programs are used, including daily literacy groups, Reading Recovery, a 20-week program that includes one-on-one intervention for the most struggling first-grade readers, and Marie Carbo Reading, which has students follow along while listening to an audio book.

Lisa Striegel, in her first year as a Title I assistant at Patoka, praised the literacy circles, where students spend 30 minutes each day reading in a small group and then take an easier book home to read with their parents, with the goal of building reading, vocabulary, writing skills and confidence.

"I am just blown away," she said of how much students in the program have progressed.

Title I also provides fun ways for parents to participate in their child's learning. For example, Kelly Beck of Milltown Elementary talked about the school's Bingo for Books and Math Madness activities, while Mary Fetz of Leavenworth Elementary told about the program's annual book buy trip.

Fetz said a Title I student from each elementary is selected to go on a field trip to a Louisville bookstore to purchase $30 worth of books. To go, however, the student's parent must also attend, she said.

In another matter, Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge announced that Milltown Elementary was designated a Four Star School by the Indiana Department of Education.

The Four Star School Award is the "highest honor given to a school by the State of Indiana," he said.

The distinction comes on the heels of the school being named a federal No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon School in 2006.

To be named a Four Star School, a school must meet Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by No Child Left Behind legislation and perform in the top 25 percent of all schools in the state in each of the following four areas: student attendance rates, mathematics proficiency scores, English/language arts proficiency scores, and the percent of students passing both English/language arts and mathematics.

In other business, the school board:

•Was told by Eastridge that the school corporation failed to meet 2007 Adequate Yearly Progress standards due to Crawford County Junior-Senior High School not meeting benchmarks in the free lunch and special education categories.

Those were the only two areas that any of the corporation's six buildings did not meet AYP benchmarks, Eastridge said. However, he explained, each benchmark must be met for the entire corporation to meet AYP standards.

•Was given a "2,000-foot overview" of the health insurance industry by Jeff Neal of JA Benefits.

Neal, who was asked by Eastridge to address the board, said health insurance costs are trending sharply upward and the school corporation isn't immune from the increases. He noted that his company was able to prevent a 27-percent increase to the corporation last fall, in favor of just an 8-percent hike, but the trend is as much as 12 percent annually.

Eastridge said the corporation's health insurance renewal date isn't until Nov. 1, but he hopes to begin the process early, possibly this spring.

•Listened to a presentation by Ted Carney about Evertson Companies' plans to extract natural gas from the underground New Albany Shale that runs through the county.

The company hopes to have drilled the first test wells and to be making progress toward developing and extracting natural gas by the end of 2008.

Carney said Evertson is seeking leases with landowners, such as the school corporation, that would pay them a royalty of 12.5 cents for every dollar the company earns from the ground. Investing millions of dollars in the county, the company is anticipating the venture being quite profitable for it and the landowners.

Eastridge asked Carney to stay after the meeting to answer any questions board members had.

•Voted 4-0 (trustees Donnie Benz, Roger Haverstock and Debbie Kaiser were absent) to declare a school bus and a couple of cars as surplus equipment, with the intent of advertising and liquidating them.

•Voted 4-0 to approve the following items as part of a single-vote consent agenda:

—The resignation of Fannie Schwartz as a special education bus aide;

—The following athletic appointments: Brandy Stroud, varsity assistant track coach; Jeff Balmer, junior high school boys' track coach; Jason Sturgeon, assistant spring baseball coach; Danielle Trotter, varsity volleyball and summer volleyball coach; Mike Brown, boys' summer basketball coach; and Jeff Crecelius, boys' varsity golf coach.

—Amy Etienne as a substitute for teacher Charlotte Key.

—Ada Faye Trambaugh to replace Lori Rennirt, who took a job in another school corporation, as a Title I aide at Milltown Elementary;

—A resolution for a declaration of emergency at Marengo Elementary due to the failure of a hot water heater;

—Ruth Ory as a homebound teacher for a student;

—Mae Bolin as a part-time bus aide on special education route No. 46;

—The maternity leave of teacher Rebecca Elkins;

—Crystal Lasher as a substitute for Elkins;

—The animal club request for a reward trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., on April 26 and 27 for completion of an academic requirement;

—Ruth Small as the head of facilities;

—The request of the Business Professionals of America chapter at CCJSHS to attend the BPA state competition at Indianapolis; and

—A reduction in force (RIF) notice regarding Jill Stutzman, who has been teaching math at CCJSHS on an emergency license. Eastridge said the position needs to be RIFed so it can be advertised and filled with a teacher with a permanent license. He explained the action in no way reflects on Stutzman's job performance.

The school board will next meet Tuesday, March 18, at Leavenworth Elementary School. The public meeting will immediately follow a 6 p.m. closed executive session.

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