What happened: Superintendent finalists announced
What it means: The Board reviewed 21 applicants from six states. “We were quite impressed with the depth of experience and breadth of vision of the applicants,” board member Patricia Hackett said.
The three finalists are: Dr. Eric Ban, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan and Dr. Bruce Hibbard.
What happened: School lunch prices increase for 2013-2014
What it means: Elementary lunches will increase from $2.25 to $2.30 while middle and high school lunches will increase from $2.35 to $2.50. Increases were approved to align with 2011 state legislation for the subsidized school lunch program. Assistant Supt. Roger McMichael said lunches provide “increased whole grains, veggie and fruit servings” which cost more. McMichael assured board member Gregory Phillips “there have been no changes to the program for free and reduced lunches.”
What happened: Policy clarified on student promotion, placement, retention
What it means: In general, “the Board discourages the skipping of grades.” The amended policy, however, allows for consideration when a student was previously retained twice before fourth-grade. As well, a case conference committee for students with disabilities can request promotion.
The policy now includes an additional description for grade level success stating a student must demonstrate “sufficient proficiency.”
What happened: Financial update, operational funds better than Indiana average
What it means: McMichael reported the local tax rate’s vital role in “covering about 14 percent … almost $14 million” of operating costs. He pointed out the Carmel school system still has one of the lowest tax rates in the state. “Our community’s certainly done its share of support,” McMichael said.
“We will have challenges in the future,” McMichael said. Seventy-five percent of Carmel teachers are not yet earning at the top of the salary schedule. Projections show a need for $2.5-million more in the operating balance should salaries increase just 1 percent, half the inflation rate. State fund reductions are negatively impacting schools across the state.
“We have virtually no control over the revenue we receive,” McMichael said. “But we do have control over what we spend.”
What happened: Supt. Swensson recommended redistricting of Orchard Park neighborhoods
What it means: Supt. Dr. Jeff Swensson reported the growth of three neighborhoods currently served by Orchard Park could strain student capacity. He noted neighborhoods off Main Street near Meridian and off 116th Street near College Avenue.
“We need to redistrict these neighborhoods for the next school year so these areas would be served by Woodbrook,” Swensson said. Board members Hackett and Phillips expressed concerns about Woodbrook’s distance from these areas and capacity.
Last August, resident Heather Geon gathered 116 signatures for an online petition to reduce Woodbrook Elementary class sizes.