Starke County News Items

Area Students to Take Shortened ISTEP Exam Next Week

posted Feb 25, 2015, 10:02 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 25, 2015 
By: Anita Goodan, WKVI 

This year’s shortened ISTEP exam will be taken at all of the local schools next week. The test window begins today.

Governor Mike Pence signed into law SEA 62, the bill that allows the Indiana Department of Education to shorten this year’s ISTEP test. The test would have been more than 12 hours for third grade students.

The test will begin on Monday at most schools and Tuesday at others. Students will be tested in the next two weeks. The window closes March 11.

Schools already had been preparing for a shorter ISTEP since receiving guidance from the Department of Education after state Superintendent Glenda Ritz cut out portions of the exam with the help of two consultants hired by the governor.

Ancilla College Board Adopts Flat, Fixed Tuition Rate

posted Feb 25, 2015, 10:00 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 25, 2015 
By: Mary Perren, WKVI 

The Ancilla College board of Trustees has adopted a flat, fixed tuition rate for $14,100 per year rather than charge a per-credit hour fee. President Ken Zirkle says it encourages students to take a full course load each semester and graduate on time. Students who take more than 17 hours per semester will pay an additional $470 per credit hour.

The board also locked in tuition for students during their time at Ancilla. Zirkle says students who enroll this fall will pay $14,100 per year, or $7,050 per semester, for each of the next two years. Room and board at Ancilla’s soon-to-be-constructed residence hall will include a meal plan for $8,500 per year. Groundbreaking for the 96-bed facility is scheduled Tuesday, March 10.

Ancilla College Rolls Out Revamped Nursing Curriculum

posted Feb 24, 2015, 9:58 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 23, 2015 
By: Mary Perren, WKVI 

Ancilla College nursing students can complete their degrees in less time, thanks to the recently revamped curriculum. Director of Nursing and Health Sciences Ann Fitzgerald says the required number of credit hours has decreased from 72 to 63. By cutting a semester from the curriculum, Fitzgerald says students will be able to finish sooner and save both time and money.

The nursing program also offers flexible scheduling. All of the nursing classes are now offered every semester, which makes it easier for students to stay on track. Prerequisites must still be taken first, but students don’t have to wait for a class to be offered again in order to move on.

Find more information online at www.ancilla.edu.

Community Services of Starke County Accepts Timely Donation

posted Feb 20, 2015, 9:47 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 20, 2015 
By: Mary Perren, WKVI 

The Community Services of Starke County Food Pantry will be able to assist even more families in need, thanks to a timely contribution. Ed and Deb Troike were selected as the Starke County winners in the Monsanto Foundation’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities program. As the winners, they chose the organization to receive a $2,500 donation from America’s Farmers Grow Communities and the Monsanto Fund.

“We do know the needs of Starke County and feel this is as worthy an organization as we could ask for. So when our name was drawn the first thing I thought of was sending money right here,” Ed Troike said during a brief check presentation ceremony Thursday morning.

Community Services of Starke County Executive Director Joan Haugh had originally planned to use the donation to buy items for the food pantry but says a more urgent need has arisen.

“In the recent week or so we realized we need another freezer. Those cost about $3,800 to buy big freezers. We’ve tried to find a couple used ones unsuccessfully. So I asked Ed and Deb if they would mind if we put that money toward getting a new freezer. I tried to get a grant through USDA, and they want us to revise our bylaws and all that. Anyway, he said we could use that money toward that.”

Haugh adds the freezer will provide a lasting benefit to the food pantry.

“It will enable us to receive more product and keep it on site rather than passing it up. If we don’t take it, we lose it. We served 274 families last month, and they can certainly use any food that we get our hands on.”

Officials from Monsanto and the Starke County Co-Op were also on hand for the check presentation.

Department of Education Issues New ISTEP Requirements

posted Feb 20, 2015, 9:42 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 20, 2015 
By: Tyler Maffitt, WKVI
 
Calls for reduced test times have prompted the Indiana Department of Education to issue guidance eliminating certain questions from the ISTEP test.

The reductions come shortly after new rules were adopted by the Indiana General Assembly. Those alterations, however, come close to the actual testing dates.

Plymouth Community Schools Superintendent Dan Tyree says if testing times can be reduced; it should’ve been done well in advance.

“I think the public should be irate that we have political volleyball being played with the ISTEP test and that’s exactly what’s happening,” says Tyree.

According to guidance released by the Department of Education, portions of the Math and Language Arts sections will be dropped. By eliminating those portions, it will save test takers about three hours and five minutes at all grade levels.

ISTEP is used to measure student progress, but is also used in teacher evaluations around the state. Multiple school corporations in the immediate area have criticized using ISTEP as an evaluation tool.

Tyree says it’s an unusual step to use one test as an evaluation.

“Their principal sees what they’re doing throughout that entire 180-day period and then you take a 7-hour period on a test and say ‘well, you didn’t do very well this year’ and so you’re going to get an F or you’re going to get a D,” says Tyree.

ISTEP tests will be administered in many area schools in March and April.

Private schools receiving choice vouchers may soon have the option to administer a test other than the ISTEP under a bill being considered in the Indiana Senate. Whether reducing ISTEP test times makes public education more competitive remains to be seen.

Tyree says he recommends residents ask how much ISTEP costs taxpayers, and ask educators if the test is effective at measuring student knowledge.

N.J.-S.P. School Board Approves Budget Transfers

posted Feb 19, 2015, 9:45 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 19, 2015 
By: Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board transferred a few dollars in their fiscal year budget on Tuesday night.

According to the discussion, certain dollar figures were reallocated to help with the school corporation’s operating.

Superintendent Lynn Johnson says the Board considered the move which has been talked about in the past.

“We are going to move some funds from transportation into the general fund,” says Johnson.

Reasons for the transfer were not made clear during Tuesday night’s meeting. 20-percent will be allocated in the general fund for the high school principal to take over transportation duties from the transportation fund.

Other transfers include 10-percent for elementary, middle, high school assistant for transportation, discipline, and bus duties. 5-percent of funds for treasurer for food service director will be transferred into an accounts payable fund.

Johnson says the move needed additional review.

“Since that does require transferring from one account to another, I’ll need board approval for that,” says Johnson.

Totals figures transferred add up to about $65-thousand. The North Judson-San Pierre School Board approved the transfers unanimously.

North Judson Considers Revising Fee Schedule

posted Feb 18, 2015, 9:25 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 18, 2015 
By: Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 

The North Judson Town Council has decided to review a few alterations to their fee schedule.

During Monday night’s meeting, Council members saw proposals to change or even remove certain fees on first reading. Changes can be made to gain revenue, or even remove items that are viewed as unnecessary.

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Donna Henry says no decisions have been made yet.

“The council periodically reviews the ordinance to see if there’s anything that needs to be updated, or changed,” says Henry. “You know revised, or deleted maybe, or something like that so they’ve been redoing that for the past several weeks.”

The North Judson Town Council previously had a fee for snow and ice removal in the instance a resident was unable to remove it themselves. Council members have proposed removing the fee due to the difficulty of enforcing it.

A kennel fee was also proposed for removal due to a change in ordinance. Other fees were increased in the areas of base plates, emergency snow removal, and rental equipment.

The North Judson Town Council will review the matter on final reading at their next meeting.

Ancilla College Anticipates Addition of Agriculture Degree Program

posted Feb 14, 2015, 8:31 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 14, 2015 
By: Mary Perren, WKVI 

Ancilla College officials are finalizing plans to add an agriculture degree program. Vice President of Development Todd Zeltwanger says all of the credits from the associate degree offering would be fully transferable to Purdue. He says school officials are putting finishing touches on the offering now in anticipation of a fall launch. 

Zeltwanger adds there’s a strong local demand for such a program.

“We’ve been out to several high school ag classes in the last several months and talked to the teachers and the students. The numbers in those high school ag classes are growing astronomically in this area. They can’t find enough teachers to meet the demand, the need. The students that we talked to said we want a local agriculture option.”

Zeltwanger says Purdue isn’t an option for everyone, at least not always right away.

“They want to be able to keep their horse on the farm and keep working while they’re going to school for a couple of years,” Zeltwanger said.  “If they can do well there they can transfer to Purdue or someplace else, or just get a job, whatever it is.”

Find more information online at www.ancilla.edu.

State Parks Seeking Volunteer Campground Hosts

posted Feb 14, 2015, 8:24 AM by North Judson Public Library

Published: February 14, 2015 
By: Mary Perren, WKVI 
 
Enjoy free camping at Indiana state parks and reservoir properties in exchange for doing volunteer work. Hosts work a minimum of 20 hours per week and do tasks like cleaning fire rings and restrooms, painting signs, picking up trash and welcoming and assisting campers. Volunteer periods vary at sites based on the number of applicants and amount and type of work needed.

A complete list of site availability and detailed information about hosting duties is at http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2404.htm or by contacting the property where you would like to serve. Prospective volunteers must complete an application. It can be downloaded here http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2443.htm.

Various Assistance Options Available for NIPSCO Customers

posted Feb 13, 2015, 9:54 AM by North Judson Public Library   [ updated Feb 13, 2015, 9:54 AM ]

Published: February 13, 2015 
By: Mary Perren, WKVI 
 
NIPSCO customers who are struggling to pay their utility bills are urged to contact the company’s 24-hour Customer Care Center to explore their options. They include state and federal payment assistance as well as resources available from local community action agencies. All three are based on income.

All NIPSCO customers can spread their gas bill payments over a 12-month period by signing up for the utility’s free budget plan. Payment arrangements also allow customers to make an initial payment within four days of the agreement and spread the remaining unpaid balance over three months, plus current bills as they are due.

NIPSCO’s DependaBill and Price Protection Service (PPS) provides a fixed monthly bill with no annual reconciliation and PPS allows customers to fix or cap their per-unit cost of natural gas. Another options is the NIPSCO Choice Program. It lets customers choose their natural gas supplier.

For more information on billing options and payment assistance, visit https://www.nipsco.com/billing-payment-options.

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