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WaNee School Board Meeting 8-11-14

by Amy Wenger on August 12, 2014

Members of the Wa-Nee Community Schools Board of Trustees had much to be grateful for as they pored over newly released ISTEP+ statistics from the spring 2014 round of testing.  During their Monday evening session, they discovered that students in their district are among the very best in the county when it comes to achieving high scores in language arts and math. 

Jim Bennett, Director of Curriculum dissected the data for the board, and revealed that the corporation-wide total of students who took the exams earlier this year and passed both math and language arts was at 84.7 percent.  The testing is administered to students in grades three through eight.  That percentage was enough to place Wa-Nee Community Schools at the top of the list in scoring among other schools in Elkhart County.  "It's a great testament to our students and our community, and certainly the work of our staff," Bennett said.  "We can be very thankful."

Also of worthwhile note is the fact that the overall passing numbers have steadily risen since the earliest available regional records for ISTEP+, which date back to 2007.  That year, just 70.8 percent of students passed both sections of the exam, with success rates inching along an upward trend in consecutive years, at 71.4 percent in 2008, 74 percent in 2009 and 74.8 percent in 2010.  The passage rate jumped to 79 percent in 2011, followed by 81.6 percent in 2012 and 82.6 percent in 2013.

Bennett also presented breakdowns of the passing ratios for each individual class, which also demonstrated improvements over the years.  An overview of those numbers include:
Grade 8, 2013-14 - 85.8 percent passing both ELA and Math.
Grade 7, 2013-14 - 84.7 percent passing both ELA and Math.
Grade 6, 2013-14 - 87.4 percent passing both ELA and Math.
Grade 5, 2013-14 - 90 percent passing both ELA and Math.
Grade 4 - 2013-14 - 85.3 percent passing both ELA and Math.
Grade 3 - 2013-14 - 75.9 percent passing both ELA and Math.
Every one of those grade level results was impressive enough to land those classes among the top three scoring levels in Elkhart County as well.

1028 Project Hearing Approaching
In the coming weeks, the board will be conducting a 1028 project hearing to give citizens a better understanding of a new phase of renovations that will affect the district's network of schools, as well as the financial elements such projects will entail.  Such a hearing is legally necessary when costs are expected to exceed the $1 million mark.

Of utmost priority is the need for a new roof at Nappanee Elementary School, said Superintendent Joe Sabo, noting that the cost for this endeavor alone will likely close in at approximately $1 million.  Also on the prospective list of projects is the replacement and enlargement of freezers and coolers in the kitchen area of NorthWood High School, estimated at $100,000, along with replacing auditorium lighting at the high school, which could run approximately $150,000.

The continuing upgrades in technology across the elementary school level will mean that each of the three schools will potentially undergo wire pulls to make way for newer cabling, a task that could cost $100,000.  Wakarusa Elementary is expected to be on the receiving end of a new boiler, which could be priced at up to $160,000, while the middle and high schools are tagged for new computers, estimated to be in the vicinity of $250,000 for the two buildings.  

Additional "soft costs" for architectural and consulting fees are set for $175,000, making the entire projected cost running at $1,935,000.  The anticipated project hearing is set for September 22, during which the board will also plan to adopt a project resolution, a reimbursement resolution, and a preliminary bond resolution.  In mid-October, the board will then take measures to adopt the final bond resolution, as well as hold hearings for additional appropriations and the related resolution.

Wa-Nee's Student Body is Growing
Superintendent Joe Sabo spoke briefly to the board about some very preliminary numbers that were compiled at registration, illustrating that with one slight exception, all of the enrollment numbers seem to be swinging up at the district's five schools.  The following table documents what the projected school totals were in June of 2014, versus what they are currently showing:
Nappanee Elementary - 406, down to 401
Wakarusa Elementary - 528 up to 537
Woodview Elementary - 513 to 514
NorthWood Middle - 713 to 737
NorthWood High - 844 to 844 (no change)

On a related subject, the transfer tuition rates were established for the 2014-15 school year, with no increase set over the previous year.  Students who reside outside of the district are welcome to attend Wa-Nee Schools, with significant financial assistance from the state to cover tuition costs.

The rates are as follows:
Grades K-5 - Gross Amount = $5,200.  State Covers = $5,200.  Tuition Cost = $0
Grades 6-12 - Gross Amount = $5,400.  State Covers = $5,400.  Tuition Cost = $0

If the student is enrolled after the official state count dates of September 12, 2014 or February 2, 2015, until the conclusion of the school year, students in grades K-5 will be prorated at $29 per day for each number of days registered.  The cost is $30 per day for students in grades 6-12, while students receiving special programs will be charged an additional amount.

The Wa-Nee school district is bounded by CR 28 to the north, the St. Joseph and Marshall County lines to the west, CR 800 North to the south, and CR 17 to the east.  The boundary line in Kosciusko County varies, but does include all of Scott and West Jefferson townships.

Additional Business
Sabo announced that the first full day for students is Thursday, August 14.  NorthWood High School juniors and seniors can once again have the opportunity to participate in classes at the Elkhart Area Career Center if they so desire, as the board renewed their longstanding annual contract with the school.  Students who are enrolled in the program attend sessions at the EACC site for a half day, then attend NorthWood High School for the other half day.
The board also gave permission to Business Manager Roger Zentz to begin advertising the 2015 budget, which will be subject of a public hearing on September 8, followed by adoption on September 22.

A number of Special Service Contracts for lay coaches in the first semester were approved, including:
- Doug Kronk, NWHS Head Swimming - $4729
- Dennis Hershberger, NWHS Assistant Boys Basketball - $2296
- Steve Phillips, NWHS Drama Director - $4593
- Melissa Wyatt, NWHS Head Girls Cross-Country - $3763
- Tif Schwartz, NWHS Head Boys & Girls Tennis - $3763 for each
- Lisa Norville, NWHS Varsity Cheer Sponsor - $3069
- Doug Berger, NWHS Swim Assistant - $2792
- Mark Heeter, NWHS Volleyball Assistant - $3069
- Egbert Dijkstra, NWHS Boys Assistant Soccer - $2759
- Leticia Timmel, NWHS Girls Assistant Soccer - $2759
- Thomas Griffin, NWHS Freshman Wrestling - $2759
- Steve Phillips, NWHS Auditorium Tech Director - $2126
- Rex Holdeman, NWMS 7th Grade Assistant Boys Basketball and 8th Grade Assistant Girls Basketball - $2126 for each
- Kyle Stickley, Andy Mitschelen, and Randy Mitschelen, all NWMS Football Assistants - $1417 each
- Rod Parker, NWMS Cross-Country - $1723
- Rex Holdeman, NWMS 7th Grade Volleyball Assistant - $1723
- Whitney Fouts, NWMS Cheer Sponsor, Grades 7th and 8th - $974 each

A lengthy list of staffing changes was also approved upon by the board, all of which take effect for the duration of the school year unless otherwise noted.  The list includes:

New Hires
- Jared Coblentz, 5th Grade Teacher at Wakarusa Elementary
- Angela Hahn, Special Education Teacher at NorthWood High School
- Rita Harnish, Temporary Science Teacher at NorthWood High School
- Elizabeth Fish, Temporary 5th Grade Teacher at Woodview Elementary through December 1
- Annita Boocher, Temporary 1st Grade Teacher at Wakarusa Elementary through October 1
- David Palmer, Systems Administrator
- Sue Matthews, Prime Time Assistant at Nappanee Elementary
- Sara Leland, Special Education Assistant at NorthWood High School
- Lauren Hoover, Special Education Assistant at NorthWood High School
- Kelsey Diener, Title I Interventionist at Wakarusa Elementary
- Rochelle Criss, Prime Time Assistant at Wakarusa Elementary
- Todd Brink, Part-Time Custodian at Wakarusa Elementary
- Brian Welty, Part-Time Custodian at NorthWood High School
- Mary Pugh, Bus Monitor
- Noelle Pate, Bus Monitor
- Dan Hertsel, Substitute Bus Driver
- Toby Yoder, PM Shuttle Driver
- Jay Sheets, Head Varsity Baseball Coach at NorthWood High School

- Phil Ummel, from 5th Grade at Wakarusa Elementary to 8th Grade Math at NorthWood Middle School
- Rose Griffy, from Substitute Teacher to Title I Assistant at Woodview Elementary
- Kelly Simpson, from PM Shuttle Driver to Substitute Bus Driver
- Sharon Reed, from Route Bus Driver to Substitute Bus Driver
- Abby Lechlitner, from Special Education Assistant at Nappanee Elementary to Special Education Assistant at NorthWood Middle School

- Austin Miller, 8th Grade Teacher at NorthWood Middle School
- Tami Bancroft, Special Education Assistant at Nappanee Elementary

Leave of Absence
- Ken Shaum, Custodian/Grounds, through October 6

The next session of the Wa-Nee Community Schools Board of Trustees will be held on Monday, August 25, beginning at 6 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Administration Building, 1300 North Main Street in Nappanee.


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