SYRACUSE — More than 1,000 students in the Wawasee Community School Corporation have already been served this school year through educational programs presented by the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation. Pam Schumm, representing the WACF, gave a report to the Wawasee School Board during its regular monthly meeting held Tuesday evening, Oct. 8, in the Pathways Welding Technology Center in Syracuse.
Schumm noted the WACF seeks to enhance and preserve the water quality in the watershed it serves covering more than 23,000 acres and more than 10 lakes in the local area. WACF owns 10 miles of shoreline and 900 acres of wetlands and woods.
Students take field trips to the WACF center south of Syracuse and a large group activity starts each field trip. Each grade has a specific theme educational programs are built around. Kindergarten students learn about nature, first-graders about adaptations, second-graders about birds, third-graders trees, fourth-graders bugs and sixth-graders learn about limiting factors, roots and “aliens,” or invasive species.
High school freshmen have a watershed rafting trip where they do water testing, read a field book, build and pollute a watershed model, collect plant samples and more. A “Swamp Stomp” event for Mariah Roberts’ natural resources class at the high school was started in the spring of the last school year.
In 2018, 1,194 WCSC students were served and there are a total of 25 volunteers helping with programs, many of whom are retired teachers.
In other business, a tentative contract agreement was reached between the school corporation and the Wawasee Community Educators Association. Teachers with one or more years of experience, a bachelor’s degree and are rated effective or highly effective will be given a $1,000 pay raise. Those with master’s degrees and rated effective or highly effective will be given a $1,300 pay raise. Final approval will be given at a special meeting Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Also on the agenda, during her report to the board Joy Goshert, assistant superintendent, said the decrease in enrollment of 56 students compared to last year at this time can mainly be attributed to a large senior class graduating and a low number of kindergarten students enrolled. She noted, though, indications suggest the enrollment numbers will continue to decline as they have the last several years.
The annual school performance report for the 2018-19 school year is being updated and will eventually be put on the corporation’s website.
Northwest Evaluation Association testing showed some promising results for reading in grades one, four and six and for math in grades one, two, four, six and seven. More than 50 percent of students met the projected growth rate in both reading and math in those grades.
In other business, the board approved appropriations to obtain bonds for replacement of buses and technology upgrades, such as upgrading the wireless access points in each school building.
Work will begin this school year on projects from a 2018 bond issue including replacing the restrooms at both Wawasee High School and Wawasee Middle School, repairing under the floor drains at WMS, brick and window work at WMS, new PE lockers at WHS, replacing the roof over the auxiliary gym at WHS and additional parking at WHS and what will be the new central office building. Another project at WMS involves replacing the HVAC system currently used for the pool with a Paddock evacuator system that is designed to reduce the chloramines, or chemical compounds that can build up in pool water.
Other agenda items included:
• The board approved updating the school corporation vision statement to: “All Wawasee Community School Corporation students are confident, well-rounded, college and career ready citizens who possess integrity and positively impact their communities.”
• Solar panels are operational at all schools and the bus garage except for Milford, North Webster Elementary and Wawasee Middle School where work is in progress with NIPSCO to go operational.
• Syracuse American Legion donated $750 for negative lunch balances at WMS.
• Smart Cabinetry, a business located on CR 23 near New Paris, donated cabinetry to Milford School to be used in remodeling concessions stands.
• An anonymous donator gave $2,500 to the school corporation to be divided into $500 for each school.
• Phil Metcalf was recognized for being a member of the dean’s advisory council for the Butler University College of Education.
• Out of state or overnight field trips were approved including Evan Coblentz to Iowa, WHS FFA to Indianapolis, WHS Art Club to Chicago and WHS DECA to Washington, D.C.