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North Harrison pleased with ISTEP results

With this fall’s ISTEP tests recently released, North Harrison Community School Corp. principals provided statistics to the five-member board during its meeting Dec. 13.
‘We were very pleased with the results,’ said Lance Richards, principal at Morgan Elementary. ‘Overall, our school continues to do very well.’
He said his fifth graders were in the top 26 percent in Indiana, while the fourth graders were also in the top percentage. Third-grade students ranked even higher; they were in the top two percent.
‘It’s just a tremendous score,’ Richards said.
He attributed part of the third graders’ achievements to the fact that they are the first students in the school corporation to attend full-day kindergarten.
Lisa Jones, who is in her second year as principal at North Harrison Elementary School, said she had been holding her breath until she received the test scores.
‘Last year was a year of transition for us,’ she said, adding that she had hoped to at least ‘maintain’ scores set the previous year.
‘Most of our scores were above average,’ she said.
Jones said Title I students in her building made ‘significant improvements’ over last year’s scores.
At North Harrison Middle School, Karen Lambertus, who is in her first year as principal there, said students were ‘above state average’ in all test categories.
She said teachers plan to work on helping children communicate what they know.
‘Often children know the subject but they aren’t able to write about it,’ she said, ‘so we’re working on that. I think we’ll see some significant gains next year.’
Good reports continued as high school principal Kelly Simpson said that 80 percent of the sophomores who took the GQE (graduation qualifying exam) passed the English portion and 72 percent passed math.
Dr. Phil Partenheimer, North Harrison’s superintendent, praised the administrators, teachers and the community for the students’ success.
‘It’s a continuation of everybody’s effort,’ he said. ‘We have a strong focus here on educating our children.’
Following the principals’ reports, Kelly Kingsley, a parent of a child in the school corporation, expressed her displeasure with the size of her son’s class, which has 30 students.
‘I’m very upset with that,’ she said. ‘I don’t want (him) to be left behind.’
Kingsley realizes large class sizes are not unique to North Harrison. She has 29 students in her classroom. (She teaches kindergarten in the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.)
‘I don’t feel like my son is being taught all he can be taught’ because of the number of students in the classroom, she said.
Kingsley added that the school trustees should consider adding additional staff, ‘not just for now but forever’ because class sizes are expected to remain large for the next several years because of ‘millennium babies.’
The five board members did not immediately respond to Kingsley’s comments. But during board-member communications, Gary Byrne thanked the parent for speaking her mind.
Mark Shireman of James L. Shireman Inc. construction firm in Corydon gave a brief update on the progress of the renovation project at North Harrison Elementary School.
‘Financially, the job’s still in good shape,’ he said, citing that there’s $300,000 for loose equipment, $300,000 for technology and more than $1.2 million in the general contingency fund.
Donnie Timberlake, the project manager, reported that another pod of classrooms was almost complete and workers would start another one over Christmas break. Other work that can’t be done while school is in session will also be done over the holidays, he said.
Rain during the past several weeks put the project a little behind schedule, but Timberlake said they anticipate getting caught up.
The project is expected to be completed next fall, after the 2008-09 school year starts, although Shireman told the board that he hopes to have it done sooner.
Also during the meeting, board president Ron Coleman noted that school board members do not receive free health insurance, as stated in this newspaper in a Live Wire call.
In other matters, the school trustees:
‘ Approved advertising for a guarantee energy savings contract for HVAC upgrades at the high school. Maintenance supervisor Jeff Brown said the air conditioner in the high school has become less dependable and there is no insulation around the duct work in the ceilings of the school.
‘ Approved the appointment of Mickey Page on a temporary teaching contract; Larry Martin as a volunteer varsity boys’ basketball coach for the 2007-08 season; Tiffany Oppel as a volunteer assistant coach for seventh- and eighth-grade cheerleaders; and Mark Burson as a volunteer assistant coach for the seventh- and eighth-grade boys’ basketball team.
‘ Accepted Cherri Stephenson’s resignation as eighth-grade volleyball coach;
‘ Approved a $4,800 stipend per school year for Chris Fisher, who coordinates substitute teachers for the school corporation.
‘ Agreed to accept three donations: $750 to North Harrison Middle School from Harrison County Renaissance; $3,250 to North Harrison High School from Harrison County Renaissance; and $5,000 to the North Harrison baseball program from an anonymous donor.
‘ Approved the transfer of funds from major budget categories in order to avoid negative balances at the end of the budget year and to pay outstanding bills that should be charged to the 2007 budget.
‘ Approved an annual salary of $2,000 for each school trustee for 2007 and 2008.
‘ Approved obtaining a $5 million temporary loan for 2008 from Regions Bank, which had the low bid.