Wawasee School Board Hears PLC Developments, WACF Programs

SYRACUSE – As part of their new Professional Learning Communities, Wawasee educators have begun implementing standards pertaining to their disciplines, Assistant Superintendent Joy Goshert said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Wawasee School Board.

As part of the PLCs, educators work together with other teachers in their field to determine norms for student learning, including participation, decision making, listening, confidentiality and use of time.

These teachers and the schools’ principals have reportedly enjoyed “setting up roadmaps” that help them evaluate how students are progressing in the educational journeys. These roadmaps include setting up what they want students to learn, how the educators will know the students have learned what they need to, how the educators will respond if learning does not occur and what they will do if learning has already occurred.

Goshert also gave the board some perspective about declining Wawasee Community School Corp. enrollment numbers.

“This school year, we have 2,910 students enrolled across all grade levels – down 56 from last year’s number of 2,966,” said Goshert. “We graduated 263 seniors last year, but we only had 210 kindergarten students enroll this fall – 53 less than we lost.”

Goshert said that although enrollment numbers are down for many other local school corporations, the differential between incoming and exiting students gives an accurate explanation about the 56-student drop off.

She also mentioned that the 2018-19 school performance report will soon be placed on the WCSC website.

The board also heard a report from Pam Schumm, a former Wawasee High School teacher, about student field trips with the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation.

In 2018, WACF worked with 1,194 WCSC students and has already worked with 1,125 in 2019. All activities are free to students; funding comes entirely through grants and donations.

Activities vary by grade level, with different ages learning about adaptation, birds, trees, roots, invasive species, water analysis and other topics.

Schumm has been impressed by both the receptivity of the students and the attitudes of the volunteers. Between 25 volunteers, 2,447 hours have been served in 2019; many of the volunteers are retired teachers.

According to Schumm, Wawasee-area residents are blessed to live in an area with such a unique watershed – 23,619 acres comprise the watershed, part of which flows north to Lake Michigan and part of which flows south due to the watershed’s location – but with that blessing comes responsibilities. Indiana is currently number two among states in lost wetlands, so WACF’s believes that they “have a responsibility to identify threats to the watershed and to protect and preserve it through land acquisition, watershed remediation and education,” said Schumm.

The board also reached a tentative contract agreement with the Wawasee Community Educators Committee regarding teacher compensation. Under the terms of the agreement, teachers with greater than one year’s experience and a bachelor’s degree with satisfactory effectiveness ratings will receive a $1,000 raise. Those with a master’s degrees with the same effectiveness ratings will receive a $1,300 raise.

In other news, the board:

• Heard the Syracuse American Legion donated $750 to Wawasee Middle School to pay off negative lunch balances.

• Heard SMART Cabinetry donated cabinets, valued at $1,300, to Milford School for its concessions remodel.

• Accepted an anonymous donation of $2,500 – $500 per school – to be used for student needs as each school’s principal sees fit.

• Adopted the new school corporation vision statement, which now reads, “All Wawasee Community School Corporation students are confident, well-rounded, college and career-ready citizens who possess integrity and positively impact their communities.”

• Announced that solar panels are working at all WCSC locations except for North Webster Elementary, Milford School and Wawasee Middle School, with the rest set to begin working soon.

• Heard the pool at WMS will remain open while it undergoes repairs.