By Leah Sander
MENTONE — The Tippecanoe Valley School Board has been updated on new plans for renovating and adding on to Tippecanoe Valley High School.
At its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 19, at Mentone Elementary School, the board heard the update from The Skillman Corp., the construction management company for the project.
The Skillman Corp. Project Manager Scott Rogers talked about the updated planned timeline for the project. Its start was delayed from the end of the last school year due to original bids for the project coming in too high.
Valley opted to rebid the project.
“Last week, we issued construction documents to bidders. Once again, every day we’re getting participation from contractors, questions, those who were interested in the project across all 14 of the bid categories that we have presented,” said Rogers.
“The plan is on Tuesday next week we will have a pre-bid walk-through of the high school where contractors can come through, take a look, take pictures of the current existing conditions and ask more questions prior to the bid opening, which is on Oct. 11 at about 1, 2 o’clock in the afternoon,” he continued. “After which, we will vet all the contractors, scope them out, provide award recommendations for all the contractors to the board in the month of October.”
Rogers also noted when different parts of the construction are planned to occur (see the new schedule at the top of the story).
Work is planned to start in April 2023. If all the alternate parts of construction are completed, work is scheduled to be finished in August 2024.
In response to a question from TVSC Board Member David Lash, Rogers mentioned the goal of not halting extracurricular activities during the work.
“The whole point is that we will not take something that you already have until we’ve given you a new home for that place … we don’t want to displace anybody, any functions that are currently existing until we’ve given you a new home,” said Rogers.
The corporation is paying for the project via bonds, so property owners living in the Valley school district shouldn’t see an increase in taxes.
State Assessment Results
The board also heard a report on the corporation’s standardized testing results from the 2021-22 school year. That includes ILEARN, IREAD-3, PSAT and SAT.
TVSC Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Inga Omondi, Tippecanoe Valley Middle School Principal Scott Backus, Akron Elementary School Principal Scott Sterk, Mentone Principal Randy Dahms and TVHS Principal Brandon Kresca were at the meeting for the presentation.
Regarding the IREAD-3 test given to third graders, it was noted that 83.5% of them in the Valley corporation passed on their first try, which is slightly above the state average of 81.3%.
Regarding scoring for math on the ILEARN, which kids in grades 3-8 take, the percentages of Valley students passing compared to the state passing rates were: 57% of Valley students in third grade compared to 52% of those in that grade statewide; 54% of Valley fourth graders compared to 48% statewide; 40% of Valley fifth graders compared to 41% statewide; 36% of Valley six graders compared to 36% statewide; 32% of Valley seventh graders compared to 32% statewide; and 52% of eighth graders compared to 30% statewide.
For English language arts on ILEARN, passing percentages by grades compared to statewide percentages were: 46% for Valley third graders compared to 41% statewide; 47% for Valley fourth graders compared to 41% statewide; 42% of Valley fifth graders compared to 41% statewide; 21% of Valley sixth graders compared to 39% statewide; 33% of Valley seventh graders compared to 42% statewide; and 50% of Valley eighth graders compared to 43% statewide.
For the PSAT, which Valley sophomores and juniors are required to take by the state, the mean total scores were: 898 out of 1520 for sophomores and 913 out of 1520 for juniors.
For the SAT, which Valley seniors took as required by the state, students in the corporation had a mean total score of 945 out of 1600.
School leaders noted that lost in-person classroom time from early in the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020 did affect kids’ scores somewhat.
They also shared what they are doing to improve kids’ scores.
That includes a stronger focus on reading skills for Mentone and Akron elementary schools; specific assistance for those who got lower scores on the ILEARN for those in middle school; and SAT tutoring for those in high school.
The board also conducted a public hearing on the 2023 budget as required by state law. No one from the public spoke during it.
The board plans to vote to approve the budget at its next regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 10, at Mentone. That’s set to start at 6 p.m.
Valley is seeking $26,118,125 for its budget for next year, increasing from $24,789,746 in 2022.
The proposed 2023 budget breaks down to: $13,158,529 in the education fund; $3,839,232 in the debt service fund; and $9,120,364 in the operations fund.
The board also approved the hiring of TVHS custodian Bryan Painter; TVMS PE teacher April Jones, ECA treasurer Amanda Woods and science teacher Kelly Nunez; Akron instructional assistants Kylee Walton and John Whitaker; Mentone instructional assistants Carson Fahringer, Emmalee Cohagan, Lakota Thomas and Kamarin Schopf; and Valley Early Learning Academy instructional assistant Kelsey Baca.
The board also approved Brandon Webster switching to being a PE teacher at TVHS and Lawney Francis being a cross-country coach at TVMS, Thomas Boys being a spell bowl sponsor at TVMS, Amanda Fannin being a team leader at TVMS, Chelsea Brubaker being a Gradway coach at TVMS, April Stiles being a yearbook sponsor at TVMS, Kyle Ritchey being freshman boys basketball coach at TVHS and Shaun Shepherd being JV boys basketball coach at TVHS.
It accepted the resignations of TVHS boys golf coach Ben Shriver, diving coach Lisa Andrews, PE teacher Tanner Bradley and Sunshine sponsor Andrea Michel; TVMS track assistant Kevin Paxton, boys basketball coach Shaun Shepherd and eighth-grade boys basketball coach Jarred Littlejohn; Akron instructional assistants Allison Pomeroy and Christina Dunn; and Mentone custodian Miguel Ruiz, leadership team member Sarah Kreft and instructional assistants Evelin Alarcon, Courtney Eaton and Katrina Swihart.
In other business, the board:
- Welcomed Benton Nellans as the junior TVHS representative to the board. He joins senior TVHS representative Abby Bowers on reporting on high school events at the board meetings.
- Heard from Kresca that the high school is planning to provide assessments of students’ employability skills. The details of that are still being finalized.
- Approved a $2,500 donation from an anonymous Valley graduate for Burket Educational Center.