The Superintendent Advisor Council (SAC) is a group of parents from around the district that meet with Dr. Stokes ever couple of months throughout the school year. The group is primarily made up of members of the leadership of each of the PTOs across the district as well as one representative for each of the School Board members. I attended Dr. Bourff’s meetings initially as a member of the PTO, and have since been included as a board member representative. Being that the board member I represent was not re-elected, I’m assuming my time on the council is reaching its end, in which case this might be the last report from me for an SAC meeting. Hopefully someone else will pick up the mantle and share the information.
It today’s meeting, there were several topics covered. Specifically, there was a liability update, coverage of the Exceptional Learners program, and coverage of the Pursuit Institute. The following are my notes typed live during the meeting. I provide them here as simply an effort to share communication around what I’ve learned and heard. Being that they are live notes, I might have misheard or capture something not quite perfectly. As such, if you have questions, I absolutely recommend reaching out to the administration team including the names I’ve included in the notes. Formatting is a bit hodge-podge, because again, these are live notes!
(Katy Dowling, CFO)
This topic was once again about the use of Inflatables and bouncy houses within the schools and more importantly the liability issues. Bouncy houses are the big issue. Liberty Mutual is district insurance. There is a safety and risk document from Liberty that will be shared with PTOs. Inflatables are okay. It’s bouncy houses that need to follow guidelines. Wind is a factor that is huge with bouncy houses. From the comments, it sounds like using inflatables and even bouncy houses inside within a gym might be possible. Guidelines are being sent to the SAC group (so PTO leaders will get them). There has to be a waiver. There is suggested wording with what will be sent (from Insurance). Permission (signing of waivers) can likely be electronic. What the district will send is more about the language that should be included, not the specific form. This is for everyone’s protection. “Katy is not the fun killer”! The summary is that bouncy houses indoors might be possible, but PTOs should likely review the information the district has obtained and is providing to make sure they aren’t legally putting themselves in a precarious position.
Department of Exceptional Learners Update/Changes
(Brett Kraftson, assistant director presented for Amy Selby. Rachel Ross-Kroemer is also an assistant Director)
Amy and Brett are new. Brett is supporting elementary (K-4). Rachel is 5-12 space. Amy does the other programming.
Brett presented just two slides.
- Three main areas
- Academic Performance Data
- Staffing Dashboards – they have to work closely with teachers.
- Caseload Analysis
- IIEP/Skyward Cleanup
- Article 7 Compliance
- IIEP Procedures & Handbook Review
- Internal Process Procedures
- Medicaid Billing Documentation
- Weekly Newsletter
- Clarity on What’s Happening
- Communication of PD Offerings and Opportunities
- District DEL Highlights
Have to meet the needs of students where they are.
- IAs tend to get pulled, which causes Exceptional Learners to not get the support they need. What’s being done.
- Data is helping to make a clear picture of what is happening. There are new people coming in and asking questions. As they ask questions, they are asking things like is there the right staffing? Principals are being asked who is in the building both adults (staff) and kids
- (Dr. Stokes) – There is typically a hierarchy of need and support. They don’t ever want to have to pull support staff. They don’t ever want to violate IEPs (like one-on-one requirements). For safety reasons, however, there are times they have to provide the supervision needed. They try to not pull support people. They are, however, hit with the issue of not having enough staff. They don’t want to violate IEPs was repeated again.
- Most notable recent change is increasing IA pay by $2/hr for exceptional IAs in the self-contained programs. (?)
- We are so big, sometimes it is hard to extrapolate data to know what you need when you need it. The newer dashboards are helping to identify what is needed.
- “Program classroom” – self-contained (Resource classroom – kids go in and out). These are things like the FOCUS program where kids are spending a good part of the day in a classroom that is not the ‘general’ classroom.
- (Dr. Stokes) Her background is in special ed. She commented that thy have a totally new leadership team in the special education group. This is only the second year for Selby, and the other two are new this year.
- Is the transition from schools (such as elementary to intermediate) similarities?
- From pre-school to kindergarten, there is a process that has been in place for a while.
- Transferring information on exceptional learner kids from building-to-building is pretty much in place as well. These are processes that can continue to be built on.
- Documents and such should empower parents to be able to ask questions.
- <Person asking question said they’ve had great services>
- How big of a population are they serving
- 2300 students served with IEPs. (about 10% of student populations).
- 504? They didn’t know the numbers.
- IEP comes from federal law and state law (article7)
- 504 section of Americans with disabilities act
Note To self: Terminology for district. Is there a “glossary” anywhere?
Pursuit Institute / K-12 Update
(Dr. Kegley & Dr. Stokes)
October 26th Board approved the move to the Pursuit institute (PI)
Career and Technical Education Institute. This is currently done through J. Everett Light. The Pursuit Institute was a shift to do a Hamilton County program. HSE was the last major school to shift to PI in Hamilton County.
Some parent might have had angst at HSE joining.
There are 5 different programs that HSE support within our buildings. The teachers for many of these classes are via J Everett. As we move, the employees will change to be HSE employees. The PI program allows HSE to have closed programming or open. Next year will be just closed. Open allows other Hamilton County schools to take the class at your school. Closed programs mean only kids from HSE can take the classes.
There are also some PI community programs at other locations such as Conner Prairie and the Hamilton County Fair Grounds. There are about 16 new courses kids could have access to.
There is a person that has been hired that can help to bring more programming into our own buildings. If community leaders and such want to partner with HSE on the program, they have a contact person that will be working with these connections.
What does the change mean to the district financially? HSE is spending almost what is being generated in funding. There are 60+ kids that are physically going to JEL, which costs HSE nearly what is being generated (we pay a fee to JEL for those kids to attend there). The dollars for transportation and the remote classes can be shifted into hiring teachers (I believe this was indicated to be around $600,000, which would equate to about 6 teachers). The PI gives the benefit of being self-operated but being part of a cooperative agreement. We have a full welding class – we aren’t going to open that up when we have more students already than it fills.
Q: Why was HSE the last to join?
- HSE is the only district that house our own JEL classes. HSE tripled the number of kids in the program when we started housing our own programs.
- For other districts in the county, they weren’t sending kids due to the distance.
Q: One of the reason people were not for this program (PI) was that kids that didn’t have to travel will now have to go to another school. Is this true?
- No. The five programs in HSE will continue to be offered. There might be some programs that are duplicated on different sides of the county.
- There was the also the question of “what about our kids in a multi-year program”? Kids in existing JEL programs would go to JEL for year two. They are working with JEL to make sure kids will be able to finish out what is happening now. (“Grandfathered”). For example, kids currently in year one of welding could still go to JEL for year two.
Q: Is there any program we are losing?
- Cosmetology and a few other areas will take time to ramp up. HSE will ramp up popular programs. We were competing with 6 to 10 other districts for some of the programs when going to JEL for popular programs.
- Dr. Stokes stated that Pursuit is looking at some of the programs. If Pursuit does the program, then each district would get seats.
Q: Will Pursuit be working to get their own building?
- Dr. Stokes said there was discussion of this when she started, but the building that Pursuit was talking about puttered out. Right now, they are focused on partnering with places like Conner Prairie and the Fair grounds.
- What is different from JEL is that you don’t have the overhead and expense of having a location. As the alternative to that, they work with local organizations. For example, in an auto collision repair course, they could work with a local business to certify a teacher, then have the kids learn in a local, real-world business.
Q: Will kids from other districts pay for classes at HSE
- This will be worked out. It might be a swap of kids. If two kids from HSE take a class at Carmel-Clay and two Carmel-Clay kid take a class at HSE, then it might just be considered a wash. The details will be figured out.
Q: Paying for transportation?
- Yes. The district will continue to pay for transportation as necessary.
Portrait of a Graduate
Prior to the pandemic they were building out Portrait of a Graduate. This provides a vision and focus to answer the question, “When a student graduate from HSE, what skills and knowledges do we want them to have?”
Knowledge Skills and dispositions.
Pre-K through 12th grade – what at each of the levels, what should kids know to deliver these skills and dispositions.
There was a grant opportunity with 7 other districts that was created to define this.
The grant pays for a staff member to help facilitate this program. Community stakeholder, family stakeholder input. HSE hired Steve Loder to serve this position. This is a grant funded position for 2 years. Steve will also aid in the transition of JEL to Pursuit institute. He will be transferring out of his role out of FHS.
Steve will be investigating new opportunities in the community for the Pursuit Institute courses as well.
There was question about the HSE equipment. The facilities group has already located the equipment needed. This includes welding machines and more. The equipment that HSE has is considered JEL equipment, so they can’t keep it. There was a 3E grant that supported the purchasing of the equipment. They got this faster than the expected.
Q: What percentage of our students are involved in CTE programs?
- Around 300 participate, but about 100 or so kids (60) go to JEL, which is pretty small. There are kids that take some courses in our high school that are part of JEL that don’t even know they are in a JEL program.
Q: This includes Project Lead the Way?
- Yes, this includes the PLTW classes.
Q: When do kids learn about these programs?
- There is a state change. “Next level program of studies”. This is a certification route so that kids can leave high school with a certificate. The end result of this is that kids need to know the pathway. Eighth grade, freshman year is when they need to know it.
Q: With college enrolment on a decline, will more kids be doing this?
- Expect this to be the case as many don’t see the ROI of college. As more people become aware of these programs, then they believe the interest will growth. The idea that the programs are more “local” will increase interest in the classes as well.
- Almost all of these programs are not an entire day. Some college bound kids might try some of these things as well.
- CNA program at high school – If kids passed this, they could walk into nursing home to get a job.
Q: How do you plan to present this to the community? Surveys were mentioned. How do you de-stigmatize this program so that parent don’t feel like their kids are being redirected.
- A huge piece of community engagement will be done on the Portrait of a graduate. This will include community meetings with breakout sessions and more.
- For the CTE – The state requires a local needs assessment (LNA) to determine what are actual needs of businesses and industries in our county. This is information that can be shared to show what job openings are in our community.
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