LARWILL — School safety, student accountability, and emergency weather days were the main topics of discussion during the Whitko School Board meeting Monday, Feb. 18.
Whitko Jr./Sr. High School Principal John Snyder informed the board that all Whitko schools have received permission to set up a School Guard safety app. The app allows teachers and staff to press a panic button in the event of an active shooter. This alert is immediately sent to the cellular devices of all law enforcement officers, both on and off duty, in close proximity to the school.
“In an intruder situation, a few minutes makes a huge difference,” said Snyder. The app also has a teacher assist function that focuses on non-life threatening communications. “This was too important for us to even think about passing up.”
Dr. Brandon Penrod, Whitko School Corporation superintendent, also addressed the board regarding a house bill in the Indiana state legislature regarding student accountability after graduation.
House Bill 1404 is a bill that will require schools to monitor, report and be accountable for an adult’s actions after graduating from high school.
“Once the student graduates, they are an adult,” said Penrod. “These schools will be held accountable for what these students do and not do in that first six months to one year afterward. We certainly lobby against that. There’s nothing wrong with accountability, but to hold the school accountable for actions taken past the high school years seems a little excessive.”
Penrod requested that the public contact senators and legislators about the new bill.
Whitko Schools are also in the process of forming school board committees for people interested in further helping the school.
“The committee idea came about so that we can get more people involved and divide up into categories such as curriculum, staff engagement, community engagement and finance,” said Penrod.
Those interested in getting involved can visit the committee website at whitko.org/joinacommittee.
Penrod also asked the board to approve Jan. 30 and 31 as Emergency Weather Days for the corporation in order for employees to be compensated for off-campus work. The board approved this declaration.
To conclude his statements, Penrod informed the board of a $610,000 taxable general obligation bond the school currently has. Quotes for various projects to be completed with the bond will soon be brought to the board for approval.
The board also heard reports from all Whitko School Corporation principals.
Mike McClain, Pierceton Elementary School principal, started his report by thanking both PTO groups for helping with the school’s carnival.
“It was very well attended and there was a ton of energy,” said McClain. “Every year, that event just seems to get better and better.”
McClain also discussed the school’s partnership with the Pierceton Alumni Association. The association has saved class pictures from previous school years and the elementary school has displayed them on behalf of the association.
This partnership has also led the association to start volunteering and working in Pierceton Elementary School.
“You have seen Pierceton Alumni Association coming in and working in the office, reading to kids, and helping teachers in the classroom,” said McClain. “It has just been an awesome start.”
South Whitley Elementary School Bryan Emmert told the board about the school’s daddy-daughter dinner and dance. The school held the dance at the former Whitko Middle School building due to the number of people in attendance. More than 200 fathers and daughters attended the event.
Emmert also said on Wednesday, Feb. 20, sixth-grade students will visit Whitko Jr./Sr. High School to meet with staff members and prepare for the transition into seventh grade.
Whitko Jr./Sr. High School Principal Snyder recognized the Whitko Chamber Ensemble for their wins at the 2019 ISSMA competition. All students competing for Whitko in the competition earned gold ratings at the competition.
The following students were also recognized at the meeting as students of the month at their schools in the Whitko School Corporation:
- Isabelle Dawson, Pierceton Elementary School
- Kate Long, South Whitley Elementary School
- Ariel Ross, Whitko Jr./Sr. High School
- Abby Arter, Whitko Jr./Sr. High School
In other business:
- There will be a showcase at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, for second and third graders at South Whitley Elementary School.
- Whitko Jr./Sr. High School will hold an open house and showcase session from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20.
- Penrod requested the approval of a donation of children’s book and school supplies worth $1,825.02.
- The board approved the retirement of Richard Bragg, Whitko Jr./Sr. High School language arts teacher and girls’ varsity basketball coach.
- The board approved the use of a Whitko school bus in March by the North Manchester First Brethren Church for travel to Epworth Forest.
The board’s next meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 18, at Whitko Jr./Sr. High School.