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English shines; trustees approve football project


January 27, 2010
Fresh off of being nominated for the federal No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools award, English Elementary School had the spotlight during last Tuesday's Crawford County Community School Corp. Board of Trustees' meeting. With the meeting at English, it was the school's turn to give the monthly presentation.

"We are really excited about the prospect of being the third Blue Ribbon school in Crawford County," Debbie Ade, principal at English, told the board, before introducing teachers Nikki Bigham and Rhonda Adams.

Bigham began by reading the school's mission statement: "The mission of English Elementary School is to work 'Hand in Hand' to offer a curriculum that intrinsically motivates our students to become lifelong learners and dedicated, responsible citizens."

Adams and Bigham gave 15 reasons for English's success over the past decade. At the top of the list is strong leadership, which the school has with Ade, they said.

"We put a lot of pressure on each other to excel, and we also compliment each other when we do excel," Adams said.

Some of the other reasons given include having high academic, social and behavioral expectations for students, emphasizing teamwork among staff, having academic consistency from grade level to grade level, full-time kindergarten, a strong Title I program and working to have good relationships with students and their parents.

"We are a small school and that enables us to know all the students and to have a good rapport with all the students and the parents," Adams said.

Bigham and Adams also credited having upper grade teachers teach in their areas of expertise, the CARES before- and after-school program helping students with homework and providing tutoring and the willingness of parents to be engaged in their children's education, in some cases by volunteering at the school.

In another matter, the board voted 6-0 (trustee Myrna Sanders left after the executive session due to illness) to approve the low bids on the football locker room project.

After bids on the project came back too high, the school board instructed Jerry Hanger, athletic director, to seek individual bids instead of having a general contractor. Hanger told the trustees that he had good news.

"From $112,000, we're down now to $73,000," he said, noting some individual contractors have donated some of the services.

Some modifications were made, including having drop-down sockets instead of being embedded in the walls, but the project, for the most part, remains what officials wanted, Hanger said. The high school's Building Trades class, which previously saved the corporation $15,000 by building wooden lockers, will complete some of the work, including putting on the roof, pouring new sidewalks, putting in the ceiling and building new shelving, he said.

"I am confident they will do a good job," he said.

Hanger had hoped to have the project completed some time ago, as the school began its football program six years ago (it has had a varsity team for three seasons), but other things took priority, including replacing the lower-level bleachers in the gymnasium.

"We started six years ago with building the field and turning a tractor metal barn into a junior high locker room," Hanger said in an interview Thursday. "James L. Shireman Inc. donated some men who came over and added another room to this building so we could have some sort of dressing room.

"The second year, we added bleachers, lights and press box to the field, but no high school locker room. We then took another concrete maintenance building near the softball field and converted it to the new high school football locker room with the hopes of adding a shower room, private rest room and coaches' office later," he said.

"After having varsity football for the last three years, we have found our student-athletes having to use the public rest room with the fans at halftime, not having a shower available after the game or practices and our coaches didn't even have a place to meet or store equipment," Hanger said.

The project will be paid with Capital Projects Fund dollars.

Hanger said the project should begin this week and the bulk of the work, including that of the Building Trades students, will be done by the end of the school year. Painting and finishing touches, he said, could last through June.

In other business, the school board:

•Viewed a presentation by various teachers and guidance counselors about the corporation's High Ability program, including how students are identified for the program and what can be done to ensure their success.

•Voted 6-0 to approve the following:

—The resignations of Amy Belcher as varsity girls' track coach and Lance Stroud as varsity cross country coach. The board also approved a one-year leave from coaching boys' varsity track for Stroud.

—The coaching appoints of Greg Gogel, head football; Lonnie Presley, varsity softball; Ernie Stroud, assistant softball; Erica Ashley, volunteer assistant softball; Jeff Balmer, junior high school track; Roger Curl, junior high school golf; and Debbie Ruble, junior high school girls' tennis.

—An employee request of FMLA leave.

—An employee request of two additional maternity days.

—Bus driver Don Strange's request of an addendum of four miles beginning the first day of the 2009-10 school year.

—The use of the Student Accident Report Form from Harmony.

—The appointment of Ruthie Small to the head cook position at English.

—A public office leave of absence, per the master contract, beginning with the start of the second semester, for teacher Dennie Oxley I, who is a state representative.

—An agreement with the Crawford County Youth Service Bureau to have the YSB, at Marengo, continue providing an alternative program. According to the agreement, which is for all of 2010, the school corporation shall reimburse the alternative school in an amount not to exceed $122,141. Each party may terminate the agreement by providing 90 days of advance written notice.

—A change order request of $1,262 for the special education area project at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School. The project is now officially completed.

—Provide back pay to employee Danny House for overseeing the school's wastewater treatment system.

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