By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — For the first time since March, all members of the Wawasee School Board were together for a meeting. Previous emergency meetings since March included only president Rebecca Linnemeier in person with the rest participating by teleconference.
The board meeting was held Tuesday evening, June 9, in the Wawasee High School auditorium to allow for social distancing.
Among the reports given to the board was one concerning changes in federal grant applications. Joy Goshert, assistant superintendent, noted grants are now being consolidated into one system known as Intelligrants. There is a pre-application for all grants where goals are set. Wawasee set its goals based upon its strategic planning process and goals being worked through as a district.
The five goals for Wawasee are educator effectiveness, parent and community engagement, student conditions for learning, specific goals for grades K through eight and also specific goals for the high school grades.
Concerning summer school, the high school has already started classes through APEX online and 81 students have enrolled in courses. Summer school is tentatively planned for July 20 to Aug. 7 for middle school and elementary grades to be held at Syracuse Elementary. Class sizes will be 15 students.
The board approved a list of several health services recommendations for the 2020-21 school year including increasing the health services staff workday by 30 minutes daily, installing touchless sinks in nursing stations, purchasing personal protective equipment as needed, deep cleaning nurse stations daily, modifying health services rooms for proper social distancing and others.
Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent, noted plans are moving forward to start the school year with students in classrooms, but several questions remain unanswered and more guidance is expected from Gov. Eric Holcomb as well as the Indiana Department of Education. He said, for example, it will be a challenge to get students to always wear masks properly and also to always have enough hand sanitizer available. Sneeze guards will be installed in some locations such as the office reception areas in the schools.
At the start of the board meeting, Dave Stookey, a retired Wawasee teacher and coach, asked if much thought has been given to how the school corporation will go about implementing guidelines recently released by the state. In response, Edington said meetings are held regularly with the county health officer and “big picture” guidance is received from IDOE. He noted the conditions can change almost daily or weekly, so it is difficult to be fully prepared ahead of time.
In other business, retiring staff and teachers, some of whom were not present, were recognized for their service. They include, with the school taught at and the number of years in the Wawasee school corporation: Jim Evans, director of finance for the school corporation, 30 years; Joy Goshert, assistant superintendent, 32 years; Liana Butcher, Syracuse Elementary teacher, 11 years; Debby Hardesty, vision-impaired teacher and diagnostician for the school corporation, 16 years; Lori Hickman, North Webster Elementary teacher, 19 years; Jamie McAdams, WHS teacher, 20 years; Kerri Warstler, Milford School teacher, 14 years; Kathy Close, WHS cafeteria worker, 25 years; Pam Gilbert, Syracuse Elementary bookkeeper, 16 years; Laurie Lahrman, WHS paraprofessional, 18 years; Sue Lee, bus route driver, 20 years; Angela Olson, Milford School paraprofessional, seven years; Jodi Sautter, North Webster Elementary paraprofessional, 9.5 years; and Sonya Stutzman, WHS custodian, 16 years, who passed away in February.
Turn Around Award winners for the 2019-20 school year were recognized. The award is presented to students who made significant strides academically and in other ways. Keaton Tomblin was the winner for Milford fifth grade, RJ Beer for North Webster fifth grade and Blake Rolston for Syracuse fifth grade. David Ebey was the winner for Milford eighth grade and Mykael Snyder for Wawasee Middle School eighth grade. Coby Rosbrugh was the winner for WHS 12th grade.
The board approved one-year contract extensions for administrators James Flecker, Stephen Troyer, Jennifer Phillips, Mike Snavley, Geoff Walmer, John Snyder, Steve Perek, Vince Beasley, Cory Schutz, Michael Casey, Eric Speicher and Lee Snider. Flecker will become the director of finance and legal services and absorb the position currently held by the retiring Jim Evans. Flecker will get an $8,000 salary increase, while Troyer and Phillips will each get $5,000 increases.
Other business included:
• Evan Dippon, WHS student, was named the Dallas Winchester Memorial Scholarship winner.
• Drew Graber, originally from Middlebury and who most recently worked for Elkhart Community Schools, was named the new assistant principal at WMS.
• School breakfast prices will increase by 15 cents and lunches will increase by 25 cents for the 2020-21 school year.
• Pathways Cooperative students Braxton Gray, Conner Allen, Ryan Snider (Fairfield), Preston Clemons (Fairfield) and Alexis Halle (Fairfield) were named honorable mention during the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters competition in March in Indianapolis. The WHS radio station 93.7 FM The Mix finished in third place in radio imaging, Mariah Hamman and Mykaela Miller (West Noble) finished second in sound design and CPG-TV finished first in corporate video.
• Leah Hurst and Zaiyla Shortill, fourth-graders at Syracuse Elementary, were grand prize winners in the Indy 500 Essay Contest. Both were students in Valerie Leininger’s class.
• A classroom not being used at North Webster Elementary will be used by Kosciusko Literary Services.
• The WHS auxiliary gym floor is being repaired due to a water leak when the roof was being replaced and is expected to be finished by July 6.
• The building trades house on Syracuse-Webster Road is nearly completed. Area contractors helped with the house.