Warsaw School Board Discusses Special Education Improvements and Remodeling Updates

Special education improvement and  building remodeling updates were the main topics of conversation at the Warsaw School Board of Trustees work  session Tuesday.
Director of Special Services Amy Hobbs requested to send a small group to attend a conference in Orlando, Fla., that would assist in establishing a partnership with special education students and local community businesses. Community members approached WCS to partner for this program that focuses on students 18 to 22 years old.
Hobbs also proposed using Part B special education grants to initiate  the HANDS in Autism project. HANDS is affiliated with the IU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry based out of IUPUI. The program will send three employees to come and advise teachers on instructional structure and the best strategies for teaching students with autism.
Board member Randy Polston asked Hobbs why WCS was not starting this program in the elementary schools to assist with autism education prior to middle school. According to Hobbs, this is a huge need at Lakeview Middle School due a spike of students with autism and behavioral problems attending the school in the fall. The cost is $25,000 to cover Lakeview and WCHS.

Polston requested contacting HANDS to see if they are able to cater to all WCS schools, what the cost would be and if WCS has the money to cover all schools.  Hobbs will find out the cost involved and report back at the next meeting.
Hobbs also reported a request has been sent to purchase tablets for two students that are blind and learning Braille.  They have surpassed the technology the school currently has.
WCS Design-Build Representative Jim LeMasters reported on the remodeling projects at Lincoln Elementary, Washington STEM Academy and Edgewood Middle School. LeMasters expects all projects to be completed within the next 30 days and ready for students on the first day of school, Aug. 15.
Work to be completed at Lincoln before the start of the school year mainly focuses on completing exterior and interior studs, the completion of the two-story wing and removing existing asphalt at the administration area drive in order to begin driveway work.
The new face of Washington STEM Academy is taking shape. Over the next 30 days, plans are to complete the new gypsum board finishing, prime paint and finish paint, install casework and equipment, complete ceilings and lighting, begin floor finishes, complete roof edge metal work, start up a new chilled water system and coordinate inspections and complete occupancy reviews.
Edgewood work to be done in the next 30 days includes completing the interior gypsum and gypsum board, set all new air handling units and mechanical equipment and complete exterior brick work.
Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert commended the construction crew for going above and beyond to get the construction work completed before the school year begins.
Director of Human Resources Jeanine Corson presented the July personnel report. WCS had 10 new hires, 10 rehires, nine transfers (including three preschool teachers sent to other schools) and 21 separations. WCS is currently hiring English teachers. Corson also identified changes made to the procedures handbook and the schools’ classified policies.
Chief Financial Officer Brandon Penrod presented financials. Penrod presented bids from MacAllister Transportation, Kerlin Motor Co. and Midwest Transit to replace five conventional passenger busess, one special needs bus and one minibus. Kerlin had the lowest bids and Penrod recommended to purchase all vehicles from Kerlin’s.
Penrod also proposed renewing WCS’s contract with Group Alternatives for insurance consulting. The renewal includes a price increase of $3,000 per year more than the previous contract.  Board member Jay Baumgartner inquired if Group Alternatives receives commission for their consulting. Penrod was not sure and is looking closer into the contract to check for commission information.
Chief Academic Officer David Roberson presented an update on the new Math Envision curriculum for grades kindergarten to eighth grade. Materials were delivered and training began for teachers earlier this summer. Training is required for all elementary school teachers, seventh- and eighth-grade math teachers and all administrators.
WCS Communications and Accountability Officer Dani Barkey received an invitation to attend a conference in Virginia to provide input  on a new testing model. WCS was one of three Indiana school systems selected to attend the conference with economists from the University of Virginia.