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CES, CIS to become open campuses

By a unanimous vote and bucking a long-standing policy, the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees voted April 7 to open the doors to internal and external transfers at Corydon Elementary and Corydon Intermediate schools.
In the past, the other schools in the South Harrison district had open campuses and had the capacity and staffing to handle students who wanted to transfer inside the district and from other school districts. The reason behind the closed campus at CES and CIS was to alleviate overcrowding and staffing concerns.
During an educational facility capacity assessment completed late last year, it was determined that repurposing of space at CES would allow for the enrollment of additional students; and, at CIS, three classrooms were identified as being usable, with a fourth classroom able to be created with minimal repurposing.
Current staff ratios at CIS are near maximum, from an average of 27 in fourth grade to an average of 24 in fifth (sixth grade has an average of 25 students per class). The projected class sizes for next school year for grades 4 through 6 are 28, 27 and 24, respectively.
Staff ratios at CIS range from a high average of 22 in kindergarten to 18 in both first and second grades. Third-grade class sizes average 20 students.
The projected first-grade class next school year at CES is 156 students. As the class moves through grade levels in future years, additional staffing will be needed at CIS to accommodate the larger size.
As South Harrison Supt. Dr. Mark Eastridge pointed out, one of the reasons for allowing the open campuses at CES and CIS comes down to money, with increased staff causing increased cost, which requires increased corporation enrollment.
South Harrison receives approximately $6,000 per student, so, if only 10 students come into the corporation, it could hire an additional teacher.
Under the new policy, at least one internal and external transfer is available at each grade level, per building, to gauge overall interest.
Regarding internal transfers, an online application by all students who are attending a school outside of their attendance area (i.e. a student in New Middletown Elementary’s district who would like to attend Corydon Elementary) will be accepted through May 15. Letters regarding the revised process will be mailed to all known students who are currently internal transfers, with notification of a decision to accept to be made through certified mail by June 1.
Children of employees of the South Harrison school district may attend the school of the employee’s choice as long as there’s space to accommodate the student.
In the past few years, students’ parents have made heart-felt pleas, to no avail, to the board to allow their children to attend CIS and CES.
School trustee Diana Sailor, who reluctantly raised her hand for the ‘yay’ vote, said that she was glad the corporation was opening the campuses as there had been some hard feelings in the past.
‘But, as a former teacher, I know what it’s like to have an over-crowded classroom, and I hope we don’t get to that point,’ she said.
Transportation for internal and external transfers is to be provided by the students’ parents and/or guardians. And, in both transfer situations, if applications exceed availability, a lottery will be conducted at the corporation office to determine who will be selected.
External transfer applications will be accepted through Aug. 31. But, Eastridge said, it’s unlikely that staff will be added after the start of the school year. As with internal transfers, if applications received by May 15 exceed availability, a lottery will be conducted on June 5 to determine who will be accepted.
Projected openings for internal transfers at CES and CIS next year are as follows: kindergarten, two; grade 1, four; grade 2, eight; grade 3, two; grade 4, one; grade 5, one; and grade 6, five.
Projected openings for external transfers at CES and CIS next year are: kindergarten, seven; grade 1, 15; grade 2, 25; grade 3, seven; grade 4, one; grade 5, three; and grade 6, 15.
‘Do we want to steal students from other corporations? No. Would we take students who want to come to our campus? Yes, we would,’ Eastridge said. ‘My thought is that our schools do so well and are so good that folks will say, ‘Why would I want to go someplace else?’ ‘
Eastridge said he’s not really sure what the interest will be. He knows that several students in South Harrison’s district attend other schools, but he isn’t sure if those students would attend CES or CIS with the new policy.
‘Across the district, we see good things,’ Eastridge said.
‘I think it’s a great idea,’ school trustee Larry Hauswald said.
In another matter, Corydon Central High School principal Jennie Capelle was hired as the corporation’s director of college and career readiness; she will resign as principal effective at the end of the school year. Her office will be housed at South Central Junior-Senior High School.
Capelle has worn many hats inside the district: CES kindergarten teacher, assistant principal at South Central Junior-Senior High School, co-principal at CCHS and CCHS principal.
Some of her new duties will include development, implementation and evaluation of a structured pre-K through 12 college and career readiness and awareness program, collaboration with the principals and counselors at SHCSC to review college and career readiness outcome measures, serve as a liaison to higher education partners and Twenty-First Century Scholars, coordinate and provide professional development for administrators, teachers and counselors (pre-K-12) as it relates to the integration of college and college and career readiness programs, career awareness and preparation and provide leadership for scholarship and financial aid programs.
Her daily rate will remain the same; however, instead of a 261-day contract, the new position has a 205-day contract, meaning her annual gross compensation will drop from approximately $93,210 to $73,211.
Also during the meeting, the board agreed to get with a valuation expert to advise them as to whether or not to allow Verizon Wireless to utilize its tower at CIS. Verizon would like to lease space on the tower.
A reminder of graduation dates and times were announced. Graduation at Corydon Central and South Central is scheduled for Sunday, June 7, with Corydon Central’s program to begin at 1:30 p.m. followed by South Central’s at 4.