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NJ-SP School News
Posted on October 24, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI
The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is making some lighting upgrades with proceeds from its recent bond refinancing. Last week, the school board approved bids for three lighting projects totaling just over $166,000.
Superintendent Annette Zupin said the upgrades will lead to some savings in the long-term. “[Maintenance Director Wilbur] Collins did indicate that we could see a return on our money as early as a year and a half,” Zupin said, “but the range is from a year and a half to three years we could see a return on that investment.”
The first project involves lighting improvements at the Middle School gym and mezzanine. It was awarded to Herrman & Goetz for a cost of $24,000. That firm was also awarded the bid for the second project. It calls for lighting replacement at the High School gym, mezzanine, and pool. The third project will upgrade all the parking lot lighting and exterior lights on the buildings. Busse Electric will do that work for $79,865.
N.J.-S.P. worked with Performance Services of Indianapolis to identify areas for potential energy savings. The bond refinancing gives the corporation some extra cash to use on construction projects by issuing bonds at a better interest rate.
Posted on October 22, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI
The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation’s 2017 budget was approved this week. On Monday, the Starke County Council approved a resolution setting the appropriations and tax rates in the district. Then on Tuesday, it was the school board’s turn to consider several budget items.
Business Manager and Treasurer Guy Richie told the school board the proposed $7,035,070 General Fund budget is the lowest he’s seen in nearly 30 years at the corporation. He added that the corporation’s proposing $971,262 for the Capital Projects Fund and $215,000 for bus replacement. That includes the purchase of two full-sized buses.
However, Richie says getting another smaller, wheelchair-accessible vehicle will require an extra step. “If you have a bus that’s not 12 years or older, you need a petition,” he explained. “Well, our MPVs – that’s the little white buses – we’ve run a lot of miles between special ed services. They run all day between here, Knox, and Plymouth, and we’re getting an excessive amount of miles on them. So one of them, we want to replace it but not trade it because we need it for a backup.”
Richie noted that the corporation will have a better idea of how many of the buses it can replace once he hears back from the Department of Local Government Finance in December. The North Judson-San Pierre School Board unanimously approved the 2017 Capital Projects and Bus Replacement plans, among other budgetary measures.
Posted on October 21, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI
The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is once again bracing for low test scores. The results from the spring 2016 ISTEP haven’t yet been released publicly, but Superintendent Annette Zupin is already reassuring members of the public that steps are being taken to improve them. “Instead of waiting for the test scores, we’re anticipating that they will be low, just like all the other schools are expecting and anticipating,” she said during Tuesday’s school board meeting. “We need to do some planning right now.” Zupin said schools around the state again have to deal with a new test and changing cut scores, making it difficult to compare results year-over-year.
Math has been a particularly challenging area for N.J.-S.P. School board member Derrick Stalbaum says the state’s current method for math assessment makes it difficult to determine exactly what skills students are lacking. “It’s almost the way that we’ve been taught for the last, probably, 100 years is completely different now,” he said. “They will never ask you to take nine times six, even through a story problem. They will make you solve a problem and then translate it from meters to feet and then translate it to inches. I mean, it’s things like that. It’s several steps. We can’t look at something and say, ‘Oh, the problem is multiplication,’ because most of the time, the problem is, ‘I don’t understand what this question is asking me to do because it has 15 steps.'”
Zupin said the corporation has been adding time for math help outside of regular classes, but so far, that doesn’t seem to be working. Now, she’s calling for both the elementary and the junior/senior high school to change their schedules to allow for bigger blocks of time to be spent on math.
Additionally, Zupin says the junior/senior high school plans to simulate more closely actual testing conditions when students practice. “Thoughts before were, ‘We don’t want to stress the kids out and put any more pressure on the kids than we have to,’ so we tried to keep things low-key,” she said. “Well, we’re not succeeding with the math, so maybe we’ll try this route. I still hate the idea that kids feel pressure. So at some point, we need to make sure the kids understand a balance, and we do need to remind them that there are other measures of success. But we can’t ignore the test scores and what they mean to the schools.”
However, Zupin said part of the problem is that students are simply bogged down with tests. “Those poor 10th-graders. Look how many assessments they took last year,” she said. “They took their local assessments SRI/SMI, they took PSATs, they took the ECA, and then they took the ISTEP+. And the ECA is the one that mattered to the students the most because that was for graduation purposes.”
The corporation plans to continue its professional development efforts, to help teachers relay information to students more effectively. Zupin says all of these efforts will be detailed in each school’s state-mandated improvement plan. Those will be completed by December 1.
However, 2017 will be the last year for the ISTEP. What will replace it remains to be seen.
Posted on October 20, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI
North Judson-San Pierre administrators continue to gather information about why students are leaving the corporation. N.J.-S.P.’s official enrollment is down 31 students from last fall, although Superintendent Annette Zupin says three students who had transferred to other schools have returned since the count was taken last month.
She told the school board Tuesday that 37 students who live in the N.J.-S.P. School District have left to attend school elsewhere. At the same time, though, 33 out-of-district students have transferred into the corporation. The big challenge is at the Junior/Senior High School, where 22 students have left. Zupin says the majority of them are now attending virtual online schools.
She says figuring out exactly why these students are leaving has been difficult, due to a lack of reliable data. But her time as high school principal has taught her that it usually boils down to one of three things, “The programs, the negative perception of the school, and student conflict – so just knowing that because of my experience here, we need to focus on those areas as we make a plan.”
When it comes to bullying, Zupin says the corporation needs to make sure it’s offering positive relationships for students, intervening when necessary, and communicating effectively with parents. “Even if it’s perceived bullying or the real thing, it still is hurtful to those people who left,” she said. “So yes, we want to address that.”
Moving ahead, Zupin is putting some new measures in place to better track why students are leaving and where they’re going. As part of that effort, each school will keep records of whether students transfer to a traditional or virtual school, switch to home schooling, or move out of the district. “Every time a student leaves, the registrars, the secretaries, will make sure we know why,” Zupin said. “And also, they have an exit form. They are getting information from them, and they are asking them why they are leaving. That gives us some information on what we may need to do better to keep the students here.”
Each month, that information will be submitted to the central office, and a report will be given to the school board on a quarterly basis. Zupin says that having up-to-date information will help the corporation as it moves forward, especially with its strategic planning process.
But beyond that, Zupin says the corporation also faces outside challenges. She notes that Starke County’s population is not growing, something that’s true of many rural areas.
Still, Zupin says N.J.-S.P. does have some strengths on which it can build. “Particularly last year, when we had a few students leave to go to another school, I know of two that came back and both, the specific reason for coming back was they didn’t get the service and the individualized instruction that we provide,” she said. “So I know that we have positive relationships from our staff members to the students, that those two indicated they came back for that very reason.”
How to promote some the the corporation’s unique program offerings will also be a major focus of the strategic planning. Some ideas are expected to be presented during next month’s school board meeting.
Posted on October 19, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI
The Starke County Community Foundation will soon be renting some office space in the former North Judson-San Pierre Middle School building. A lease agreement was approved Tuesday by the N.J.-S.P. School Board, at the recommendation of Superintendent Annette Zupin. “With the middle school space available, we do recognize partnerships can provide a number of benefits for the school community,” she said. “Sharing the space with Starke County Community Foundation can create a strong relationship between school and community. It also can preserve our community-centered school. Activity in that school is better than inactivity, so we are thrilled about this agreement here.”
Under the agreement, the Community Foundation will pay N.J.-S.P. $350 per month for 2,400 square feet of space in the school’s office suite. That rate is based on the building’s utility costs, proportional to the size of the space being rented.
Zupin said the corporation hopes to rent out more of its space, and discussions are already underway for a preschool to use some classrooms. “We’re working on that,” she said. “Hopefully next month, we’ll have another agreement.”
The middle school building closed at the end of last school year, with sixth grade being moved to the elementary school and the high school becoming a 7-12 grade facility. The school board has been considering moving the elementary school into the former middle school building at some point in the future. Zupin says the corporation’s lease with the Starke County Community Foundation runs until the end of May, which will allow N.J.-S.P. to revisit the use of its buildings at the end of the school year, if necessary.
Posted on October 18, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI
Gaston Combs has been driving a school bus for North Judson-San Pierre for 50 years. Photos provide by N.J.-S.P. Schools.
A North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation employee was surprised by his colleagues last week with a cake to celebrate five decades behind the wheel. Gaston Combs has been driving a bus for the corporation for 50 years. He says they’re a lot better now than they used to be.
“When I started out we didn’t have power steering, no automatic transmissions, none of that stuff, you know,” Combs said.”But they all have power steering now and automatic transmissions. The newer ones have the push buttons to open the door like commercial buses, city buses. So that’s been a big change in that.”
Combs has also seen quite a few kids pass through the bus doors over the years. He’s on his third generation of Bluejay passengers.
“Some of those kids of course are grown and married and have got kids and they’ve moved away. But when they come back a lot of them will stop and see me, come in and say ‘this is my kids.’ Tell their kids ‘hey, this is my old bus driver’ . So it’s always good to see them when they come back like that. I enjoy visiting with them”
Combs has a piece of advice for his fellow drivers.
“The bottom line is to love the kids.”
He also encourages them to have good working relationships with the parents if possible, as it makes the job a lot less stressful.
Combs adds he has no plans to retire as long as his health holds out and the Lord allows him to continue working.
Gaston Combs has been driving a school bus for North Judson-San Pierre for 50 years.
Photos provide by N.J.-S.P. Schools.
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Homework isn’t always easy. That’s why the Homework Hotline is here to help. It’s a free math and science tutoring service for Indiana students in grades 6-12.
Tutors are Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students who major in math, science or engineering—which means they’re more than equipped to help with virtually any math or science homework problem.
Student privacy is always protected, and students are never asked for their last name or phone number. The Homework Hotline is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
The program is certified by the National Tutoring Association.
When does the boys/girls (insert sport here) start? Who's their first game against? Where will it be played?
Well, my first response to that would probably be to ask you, "Are you referring to Varsity, Jr. Varsity, Freshman, 7th & 8th grade, or 6th grade?" So to make it simpler, we are giving you a link to the North Judson-San Pierre Athletic Department on the North Judson-San Pierre School website.
You can create a fan account and receive alerts when sports schedules change due to postponements or cancellations. Go to www.bluejaysports.org to create an account. The school website has detailed instructions!
Girls Sectional Alignments 2015-2017:
Boys Sectional Alignments 2015-2017:
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