WARSAW — Rita Perez, a teacher with the Warsaw Community School Corporation got reassigned, and she wasn’t immediately thrilled about the move.
“She wasn’t crazy about the idea,” said Kelly Meeks, addressing the school corporation’s Board of School Trustees Tuesday, Feb. 13.
Perez concurred. “I cried all the time,” she said.
Meeks is the corporation’s coordinator of its English Learners program, a learning system for students whose first language is something other than English. Meeks told the board she needed help at Lakeview Middle School and while doing assessments in classrooms at the high school, Perez stood out.
“I went into Rita’s classroom in the high school and was absolutely blown away because not only does she have 20 years working in special education but also has experience working with younger students. We looked at our talent management and knew we had to get Rita to Lakeview.”
According to Dani Barkey, the corporation’s chief accountability officer, E.L. students account for more than 17 percent of students throughout the corporation.
Perez uses a multitude of strategies to ensure her students begin to grasp all aspects of the language they’re trying to learn. In areas such as listening and reading, speaking and writing, Perez told the board she is only limited by her own imagination and has even used tactile stimulation to help students grasp concepts such as smooth and rough. She stressed, however, that encouraging her students to crack open a book is integral to the learning process. “I try to teach my students that reading is important,” she said. In addition, with the constant presence of social media, Perez said she stresses strongly to her students the importance of speaking in complete sentences. She finished by stressing to the board her satisfaction in her new role. Perez prompted laughs from the board and the audience by turning to Meeks and saying “OK, you were right.”
Chief Technology Officer Brad Hagg told the board members that the school system would be getting a technological facelift — at an enormous discount.
Hagg told the board that Network Solutions in Granger submitted the winning bid for an upgrade to Internet technology in eight corporation buildings as well as the installation of a new firewall located in the corporation’s central office. The upgrade, valued at more than $1 million, will cost the corporation a little more than $106,000 and can be paid for with funds already existing in the corporation’s technology fund. Hagg said the savings were due to a large number of discounts.
“This all involves the federal e-rate program,” he said, adding that “discounts of up to 90 percent (go) to help eligible schools and libraries in the United States obtain affordable telecommunications and internet access.”
The corporation filed to get these discounts for Claypool Elementary School, Eisenhower Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Harrison Elementary School, Madison Elementary School, Leesburg Elementary School and Lakeview Middle School. “The projects would replace network switches and wireless access points to the latest versions in all of these schools,” Hagg said.
NSI’s proposal provided for upgrades to brand name equipment already present in the school system instead of having to start all over with a different brand. In addition, that brand, Cisco, provides vendors with various discounts, which added to the overall savings.
Hagg said the process involved will mean that the earliest the upgrade could be done would be in July, but added that a more realistic timeframe would be in the fall.
The board also heard presentation on the school’s Catch Up Cafe, a financial report from Chief Financial Officer Brandon Penrod and a report from Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert regarding an upcoming trip to China by several WCS educators. The board was also introduced to Warsaw High School’s new football coach Bart Curtis and received an update on changes to the corporation’s policy manual.