Public weighs in on final Goshen schools calendar
Posted: 02/14/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Marlys Weaver-Stoesz
The new calendar has students beginning school on Aug. 10 and ending May 29. The calendar includes a week off, Oct. 15-19, for fall break and a week and a half, from March 27 to April 5 for spring break. Good Friday is the first Friday of the break, which students would have off anyway.
Monday’s discussion was largely divided between educators and parents.
Maynard Hartsough, school board president, gave a summary of the changes from last year’s calendar to the new calendar before stating the reasons for the changes. During a time when teachers and students are under great amounts of pressure, the two longer breaks primarily give both groups a chance to reboot, Hartsough said.
Some parents at the meeting disagreed with the notion that teachers needed more breaks when, with summer break, teachers already have more days away from work than many other occupations. A few teachers and principals pointed out that even on scheduled vacation days, teachers are often at school preparing for when school is in session or doing other school-related work.
Parents and community members also addressed the board with concerns about how the earlier start would effect sports and music programs, like marching band, that prepare before the start of school. They also noted how the board did not publicize the new calendar like they did two years ago when considering a balanced calendar.
School board member Dan West mentioned that concern before the public spoke.
“Whether it is or isn’t, it’s perceived we’re inching towards a balanced calendar,” West said. He also said that the board should have handled the proposal differently.
“We should have realized the calendar is more sensitive than we gave it credit for,” he said.
In the end, the school board voted unanimously in support of the calendar, with several members saying before the time for public comment that they needed to represent the interests of children, taking the recommendations of their teachers.
“We have to be cognizant of the fact that we have children that we have to educate and letting them off for three months in the summer, most of the time, just doesn’t work,” said Catherine Cripe, another school board membe. “What I like about this is we have stretched it out, but not so far.”
She also said that several school districts across the state are moving this direction or even further and that Goshen is not moving that way alone.
The board also addressed a myth following the consideration of a balanced calendar in 2010 that the Goshen School Board would not consider a balance calendar again. Superintendent Bruce Stahly said that he had said at the time that he would not propose another balanced calendar and Perry Haimes of the board clarified that it did not mean the board would not consider a balanced calendar at some point again.
ACQUIRING THE FORMER JOHNSON CONTROLS BUILDING
The board also agreed to make an offer of $0 to Tocon Holdings Inc. to acquire the former Johnson Controls Inc. property at 1302 E. Monroe St.
That property would offer space for additional bus parking and baseball and softball diamonds. That’s of particular importance if the city of Goshen, in reconstructing U.S. 33, chooses an option called the “Northern Connector Route” that would run the highway through the school’s current baseball diamond.
Stahly told the board that Johnson Controls, Inc., would be responsible for the environmental clean up of the soil and grounds, though Goshen Community Schools would be responsible for the demolition of the building on the property.
Stahly said in an interview after the meeting that its a long-term project that likely won’t be complete for 2-4 years.
FRESHMEN LAPTOP PROGRAM
In other actioins, the board agreed to advertise for laptops for year two of Goshen High School’s freshmen laptop program. The plan is to purchase laptops for all freshmen at the beginning of each school year. Each student continues on with their laptop through all of their time at Goshen High School so that in four years, every student will have one.
Goshen will advertise for bids in February, with plans to open bids March 6.
Diane Woodworth, current deputy superintendent and director of technology, said that the specifications for the next group of laptops are identical to last year’s, except that these will have better, faster processors.
The high school is creating a student-run computer repair shop for the computers, offering training and eventually certification for student computer technicians. This year’s freshmen received Lenovo laptops and the repair shop is funded by Lenovo’s system for on-site warranty work reimbursement.
Because of that, Woodworth suggested that, at least this year, the board give preference to companies offering bids on Lenovo computers when bids come to the board.
The board also approved Tracey Noe as interim principal at Prairie View Elementary, while principal Charles Fleming is on leave.