SOUTH WHITLEY — Whitko Community Schools announced its award of the largest Career Ladders Grant in Indiana.
The school corporation accepted $468,250 in new funding approved by the Indiana State Board of Education, Feb 5, said a news release from Whitko Community Schools
Effective July 2019, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation supporting career pathways which will offer high-performing teachers opportunities to advance in their careers and ensure that more students have exposure to highly effective teachers, said the news release.
What does this mean for Whitko?
“Typically we have to pull funds from the Education Fund in order to increase teacher salaries. Once that money is allotted, there is no more,” said Superintendent Dr. Brandon Penrod, “But with the addition of the Career Ladders Grant funding, we will be able to open new doors for leadership opportunities for our teachers to advance their careers.”
In addition, all Whitko teachers will have the opportunity “to participate in the highest quality job-embedded professional development focused on the needs of Whitko students,” Penrod said.
“We have essentially found a way to increase teacher salaries outside of the Education Fund, which anyone can tell you, is no easy task,” he said. I am excited because it means our students will benefit from highly trained teachers who are also able to earn the honor of being among the top paid professionals in their chosen field,” said Penrod.
Agreeing with Penrod, Whitko Classroom Teachers Association President Kathy Wright said, “This is very exciting news for all of our teachers to hear!”
“As new leadership roles are cultivated, our teachers will receive top training and well-deserved compensation for their expertise,” said Wright.
In November 2019, WCTA and the Whitko School Board agreed to the first raise in seven years for teachers. This increased salaries across the board, making the new teacher salaries among the most competitive in the area.
Along with this strategy to attract top candidates to new teaching roles within the school, the Whitko School Board went on to advance raises inclusive of all staff throughout the district accomplishing a much needed financial victory for all Whitko employees, said the news release.
“Whitko has financially turned the corner,” said School Board President Carrie Hoffman.
Among Whitko’s recent financial success since October 2019 are: teacher pay increases, staff pay increases and a 6.1% decrease in the tax rate.
In less than one year, nearly $1 million in new grant funding has been accumulated for the school. This suggests that this is far from being a celebratory end, but rather it is a signal that now is the beginning of a new era of success for Whitko. An era of financial stability, responsibility, assistance, advisement and leadership.
This new-found drive to secure funding includes the most recent donation earlier in 2019. Lead funding partners, The 80/20 Foundation Trust and Community Foundation of Whitley County agreed to become partners with Whitko Community Schools to launch Whitko Career Academy. The WCA partnership leads the way to announcements of new funding and new partnerships. This new funding will provide momentum for the realize the goals of the school corporation, said the news release.