By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — Washington schools are looking at a revenue cut of about $300,000 due to students leaving schools.
As explained at Thursday’s Washington School Board meeting, Superintendent Daniel Roach said 100 students have left local schools since official counts were taken last September.
While not an issue in the past, student counts are now even more important because the state is now counting twice a year, once in September and another count that took place earlier in February. According to Roach, that count will cause funding to go down.
“It becomes problematic because the bills don’t change,” Roach said.
The revenue has been cut in the past, Roach said, in the school’s bus replacement fund. The fund will have $4,556 in it. This is not the first cut Washington schools have seen. Roach said due to property tax reform, local schools had $900,000 cut from its budget. That money has not returned.
The loss in children, Roach said, may be due to the finished construction of the Edwardsport coal gasification plant. Almost all of the students lost have transferred to schools out of the local area or out of state.
“I have to believe that economics have something to do with it,” Roach said.
Roach told board members and those in the audience to contact their state legislators to keep money in schools. Currently, the Indiana House budget increases funding for schools and roads, while Gov. Mike Pence wants an income tax cut.
“It is something we are definitely going to track,” Roach said. “I believe that we are offering a very good product, but you have to have funds to operate it,” Roach said.
One idea that has been used statewide to increase revenue is an additional tax voted on through a referendum.
Barr-Reeve schools have a referendum on the table for voters this May. Roach said Washington schools will not have a referendum any time soon.
“We will tighten our belts for the time being,” Roach said.
Both Roach and Assistant Superintendent Paul White informed the board the school received a $49,000 grant from the state Department of Education for low-income schools.
The grant will be used in two ways. The first will be installing keyless entry systems for all four elementary schools. Only the high school has a keyless system. Bids are being procured for installation.
The other project the grant will pay for will be a classroom set of iPad tablet computers. White said he is instituting a trial program where classrooms will use the tablets instead of textbooks. The tablets will be available for teachers who want to try a fully digital curriculum.
“This will be a way to gauge interest,” White said.
Hatchet Highlight night
On March 7, the community will be invited to the high school’s first “Hatchet Highlight” night from 5:30 to 8. The evening starts with a free chili supper in the auditorium and at 6:30 p.m., an academic showcase will take place in the Hatchet House.
Various classrooms will have booths set up for parents and community members to see the accomplishments of classrooms. One demonstration scheduled is the SEAPERCH competition entries from the engineering students and NJROTC Club. The teams recently earned the top two spots in regional competition and will advance to state in Dubois County.
“It is an opportunity to open our high school to the public to show there are many things that are worthwhile,” Roach said.
The schools will be hosting a substitute recruitment and information meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Washington Carnegie Public Library, 300 W. Main St. Information on procedures and licensing needed to be a substitute teacher will be available. Screening interviews will also be available.
For more information, contact White at 254-5536 or on the web at www.wcs.k12.in.us/employment.