By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE â âFinancial wellness is part of being healthy,â said James Flecker, director of financial and legal services for the Wawasee Community School Corporation, at the Wawasee School Board’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, March 8. in Syracuse.
Flecker was reporting to the school board on the Your Money Line program which will now be offered to all school corporation employees. The program was created by well-known financial expert Pete the Planner and allows direct contact with financial experts and personalized financial action plans, among other benefits.
Flecker said the program’s financial experts “don’t try to sell you anything extra” because they have no incentive to do so. He noted that they “will get straight into your financial affairs” and offer the necessary recommendations. “If you’re reluctant to discuss your finances, this probably isn’t the program for you,” he added.
He said he is delighted to be able to offer the program, as he believes the resources can help employees better manage their finances. The board approved the program for one year at a cost of less than $20,000, which is funded by approved funding that will not come from the school corporation’s regular budget.
At the end of the year, the effectiveness of the program will be evaluated.
In other matters, the Monthly School Report was presented by Milford School and included the Publications and Media Class, the Leadership Class and the Staff Book Club. The Publications and Media class interacts with other students and uses social media and a newsletter to keep parents and students informed of what is happening at school.
“We use social media and other media to tell our story,” said Chris Gerbers, principal of the Milford School.
The leadership class is involved in the Reading Buddies program where they read to kindergarten students, the 12 Days of Christmas and the Christmas Store, service projects around the school, a tin drive and other projects .
“What we’ve noticed is the need to teach children how to be the hands and feet of the community,” said teacher Peg Zimmerman, adding that the fundraiser for Riley Children’s Hospital is a another project.
The staff book club is a way for teachers to meet Gerbers and “have genuine, genuine conversations about educational topics,” Gerbers said. A few teachers commented on the club and said it was a good way for them to hear different views and thoughts on education-related topics.
Also during the meeting, council heard a report from Jim Best, who has served as director of transportation for the school corporation since December. Best has implemented some changes since taking office, including changing some of the route mapping, now having drivers walk their buses when students are unloaded at their destination, and only allowing students to ride a bus. route that appears on a runners list (with some exceptions), among other changes.
A big change will be to reduce the number of pick-up and drop-off points for students. He said currently some students come in to pick up or drop off one item one week and another the next week. Best said he felt it was one of the biggest safety issues currently facing and “ends up being a logistical nightmare for the buses”.
He admitted it would probably bother some parents, but he feels it’s important that the change is made.
The board also heard a report from Dr. Shelly Wilfong, Deputy Superintendent, on NWEA 2020-21 scores and math and reading cohort groups for NWEA, an assessment tool used by the school corporation to track learning . Wilfong said the scores show that more work is needed and also how much learning has been hampered by the pandemic.
She noted that it is important to understand that the National Standard scores are based on five to seven years of learning and do not necessarily take into account the impact of COVID on academic progress. Going forward, she said staff will focus on getting the data right, realizing one size doesn’t fit all, meeting students where they are, keeping the focus on the impact of students and will provide intentional and focused instruction.
During his brief report to the board, Superintendent Dr. Steve Troyer said that new state health department guidelines no longer require schools to conduct contact tracing for COVID, quarantine or reporting COVID statistics.
“What a huge relief that is,” he said. “Our nurses can become nurses again.”
Other items on the agenda included:
â¢ Unified Sports received a 0 donation from a local autism support network.
â¢ Wawasee Robotics received three donations totaling $2,000 from Protech Marine, Via Credit Union and Powell’s Property Care.
â¢ Wawasee Athletics received a $1,500 donation from the Wawasee Basketball Support Group.
â¢ A pilot program has been approved and Wawasee will use FEV Tutor to provide one-on-one online tutoring to selected students in grades three through five. The school corporation is purchasing 100 hours of tutoring, which will be done virtually and allow teachers to focus on other groups of students in need of help. The pilot program will last about four weeks and can be used more if it proves effective.
â¢ The board approved entering into an agreement with the Four County Counseling Center to provide another option for mental health services in addition to what is offered by the Bowen Center.