By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — Beginning with this month’s Wawasee School Board meeting, held Tuesday evening, Dec. 14, in Syracuse, the board will hear presentations about different programs offered within the school district. During Tuesday’s meeting the board heard a report about the Pathways Cooperative programs.
Vince Beasley, director of Pathways, said 15 years ago career and technical education was known as vocational education. Only a few classes were offered 15 years ago, but that number has grown significantly and, for an example, seven new classes have been added within the last few years including Health Science I, welding and others.
The Pathways Cooperative includes Wawasee, Fairfield and Columbia City high schools and agreements are also in place with Goshen and West Noble.
Beasley said many of the classes offered are either full or at near capacity. He gave one example of automotive technology and said “it is busting at the seams” because students know they can get a job right away if they complete the requirements. Employers within a 30-mile radius are calling and seeking employees and are willing to pay for any remaining training students will need.
He also noted CTE classes work because students can earn dual college credits and also get industry recognized certifications. There are currently 310 students enrolled in CTE classes for the 2021-22 school year.
After Beasley gave his presentation, Randi Warren, Health Science I instructor and who has been in the health care field for 30 years, spoke and noted the class exposes students to the many different options available in health care careers. Students also learn about medical terminology and being a certified nursing assistant.
Warren said a lot of emphasis is placed on infection control, especially since the onset of COVID-19. Soft skills, such as relating to patients properly, are also emphasized.
She noted she appreciates the students who have stayed with the program because the health care field has had many workers quit since the beginning of the pandemic.
Two current senior students and two recent graduates spoke briefly and each said the Health Science I class has been beneficial and taught them needed skills. One is attending Goshen College and said some other students in her classes there did not have access to such a program while in high school.
In other business, the school board approved new incentives to hopefully attract more classified employees such as bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers among others. Dr. Steve Troyer, superintendent, said there is a serious shortage of classified type employees.
Among the new incentives is increasing the amounts of starting wages, increasing the annual longevity raise from 10 to 25 cents, a new bus driver pay schedule, paying a $500 loyalty bonus to all classified employees Jan. 31, 2022, offering stipends for extra duties and more. With some exceptions depending on the requirements already in place for some positions, the requirement to be a high school graduate or have a GED will be eliminated.
A new administrator compensation model was also approved by the board that will establish a multiplier scale range for each administrator category tied to the bargained top of the teacher salary scale. Vehicle stipends of $5,000 for the director of special services and director of technology were also approved.
Other agenda items included:
• Wade Wirebaugh, director of technology for the school corporation, was certified as a educational technology leader by the Indiana Department of Education. He was presented a framed certificate by Brad Hagg of IDOE.
• Allen Coblentz, industrial technology teacher at Wawasee High School, received a $637 grant for materials to build a CNC router.
• Korenstra Family Foundation donated $10,000 to the school corporation to be split evenly among the five school buildings and used as needed by the principals.
• Wawasee Property Owners Association donated $2,000 to the Outdoor Water Sports class at WHS.
• Wawasee Athletics received donations of $1,000 from Hartley Builders and $2,000 from Track and Trail Powersports.
• WHS super mileage program received donations from Northern Lakes Insurance, Jason and Melanie Mickley and Patrick Industries totaling $2,500.
• Indy College Football Playoff Inc. donated $1,500 to be split evenly among the physics, biology and athletic departments at the high school.
• Builders Association of North Central Indiana donated $600 to Milford School to be used to meet student needs.
• Syracuse Church of God donated $1,450 for the penny pitch program at the high school.
• The board approved entering a three-year agreement with Raptor to do volunteer background checks.
• Approval was given to purchase 14 $50 Amazon gift cards for WHS Auto Spa students as a thank you for their work of detailing and cleaning automobiles. Walmart or Meijer gift cards were also approved to be distributed through the penny pitch program of the high school.
• The board approved starting a math pilot program known as Get More Math for Wawasee Middle School in January and would allow any teacher willing to participate to do so. Milford Middle School will be asked to participate as well. New social studies curriculum is also being investigated for the middle school grades.
• Wawasee will receive approximately $105,000 in teacher appreciation grants from IDOE. Teachers rated as highly effective will receive more money than those who are not highly effective.