The Washington Times-Herald

December 19, 2012

ND reviews security after Newtown


Washington Times Herald

ELNORA — In the aftermath of the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, North Daviess Community Schools Superintendent Bob Bell has asked staff members to review the school safety plans.

In addition, the staff discussed being more watchful for potentially troubled youths whom they might be able to mentor before those youths can progress to a stage where they might become violent. Bell said he also met with Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit, Chief Deputy Gary Allison and Prosecutor Dan Murrie to discuss safety measures and how they might be improved.

“We all want to keep our kids safe, whether it’s a manmade or natural disaster,” he said. “We’re taking it seriously. We’ll be more vigilant.”

Board member Darin Holder said a parent stopped him after the Connecticut shooting spree and said he’d always thought having to be buzzed in at North Daviess was “a pain,” but in light of the shootings he’d changed his mind.

“Now he thinks it’s a good idea,” Holder said.

Continuing his report, Bell said the corporation received $264,000 from the state kindergarten grant this year, guaranteeing $2,400 per kindergarten student. While it’s more than was received last year, he said it still falls short of fully funding a full-day kindergarten program. Bell said the grant will save the General Fund $80,000.

“We have submitted the Excellence in Performance Awards for Teachers Grant,” Bell continued. “This grant is to reward effective and highly effective teachers as identified in the teacher RISE evaluation. There is $9 million set aside for this competitive grant, and we’re requesting $160,000.”

He said winners will be announced by Jan. 11.

“I think we stand a good chance of getting some money,” Bell said.

In her report, ND Elementary Principal Jodi Berry told the board it’s been busy at the grade school. She said the kindergarten classes went to Odon - aka the North Pole - to visit Santa, who gave each a silver bell. They also saw a baby reindeer and learned about several different animals from Santa’s helper, Jingle John, while on the trip, which was part of an academic unit that included the book “Polar Express.”

“‘Blue,’ from the Indianapolis Colts, came and presented the Play 60 program,” Berry continued. “It was very interactive. The teachers even had a touchdown dance-off.”

In other elementary-school news, Berry said first- and fourth-graders presented “A Bugz Christmas”; fourth-grade writing students received published books they’d written; English/language arts and math teachers in grades four through 12 met to create a vertical alignment action plan of the common core standards; fifth-graders working on persuasive writing skills wrote letters to Santa telling him why he should bring them the gifts they wanted; Rita Sue Wilson’s kindergarten class wrote a book, “Recipes for Memories”; the Parent/Teacher Organization purchased materials for students to make Christmas ornaments for their parents; and Julie Taylor, of The Taylor’ed Look, donated more than a dozen haircuts to children. Berry also announced upcoming events for the remainder of the week.

“We have a lot of community outreach going on,” Berry added.

She said the sixth grade is visiting Parkview Christian Care Thursday, and several groups are working on goodwill donations for Christmas.

The elementary principal also walked board members through beginning-of-the-year data for grades K-2 and ACUITY data from the first nine weeks for grades 3-6. She completed her report by telling the board there will be two student teachers from Vincennes University second semester: Jordan Crew will be in Anita Stuffle’s kindergarten class and Kim Wesner’s special education class, and Jayna Swartz will be in Lana Burch’s special ed class and Peg Neidigh’s third-grade class.

High School Principal Jed Jerrels reported 260 letters were mailed to students in grades nine through 12 who have the opportunity to register for dual credits through Oakland City University second semester. He said the program is paying off for students, one of whom graduated recently and will be a first-semester senior in college next semester. Jerrels said the student told him the capstone class North Daviess now requires was very useful. The principal said the goal is to make the class useful not only to students planning a post-secondary education, but also to those planning to join the military or go straight into the workforce.

“Last Thursday, Chris Mattox, a teacher at Bloomfield High School, presented PARCC sequencing to the staff,” Jerrels continued.

PARCC - Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers - is a program that focuses on organizing policies and practices to implement common core state standards from elementary school through high school.

In other news, Jerrels said DeAnne Mayfield and Lucas Calhoun have been doing small-group training for Student Learning Objectives (SLO) and RISE Indiana, the new teacher evaluation system; and several staff members have attended various professional development opportunities.

In other business, the board approved minor changes to the discipline and school wellness policies; approved Robin Terrell to replace Debbie Higgins on the Odon Winkelpleck Library Board; certified a field trip for Amy Dedina and DeAnne Mayfield to take Anna Mayfield, Renee Rink and Lane Fulton to all-state band and choir rehearsals and performance in Fort Wayne Jan. 17-19; was advised by Bell the school has worked out a deal to get Aunt Millie’s breads since their former bread supplier was through Hostess; discussed the 2013-2014 school calendar, which is still up in the air; and approved changes to the noncertified staff insurance policy.