Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Great Concert

All bands, grades 6-12, played in concert in the Plymouth Varsity Gymnasium Sunday afternoon to a large crowd. Each band played individually and the concert concluded with all band members, grades 6-12, playing the final number. Mrs. Wagner announced the awards each band had earned at the recent ISSMA contests. She also explained how the state organization creates benchmarks for playing skills at each level. Plymouth brought home three gold awards and one silver. Great job!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Blog Shorts

Donna Burroughs, Tana Houin, and Sue Lowe presented at the NCA National Conference earlier this week. Their presentation was entitled, "Writing for All? Taking the First Steps." We should all be proud of their efforts to spread their knowledge to other schools across the nation. Fourteen other teachers and administrators attended the three-day conference and gathered ideas to help develop school improvement plans.

Writing Summit
Twenty-one teachers and administrators from all PCSC schools gathered last week to standardize some language and procedures in writing. Their efforts will strengthen the writing program as students move from elementary schools, to the 5/6 building, to the junior high, and to the high school. Accomplishments included the adoption of the 6-Traits writing rubric, the adoption of a standardized writing process, and the determination that all schools will hold all-school writes at the beginning of the year and the end of the year.

Academic Superbowl
The junior high Academic Superbowl Squad did a great job at Columbia City's middle school last week. The team finished first in science, first in math, one point out of first in language arts, and second place overall. Great job!

The Business Professionals of America departed yesterday for their national competition. Along with Nate Pearson being elected as BPA State President, our students continue to represent Plymouth in an outstanding fashion.

Board Highlights

The Board met in regular session last evening. After approving minutes, claims and personnel recommendations, the board discussed spending reduction strategies for the next two years. Several considerations were made as the board studied strategies.

1) Preliminary steps toward grade reorganization in 2006 were considered.

2) The Board considered resolving scheduling issues in the district. Among those are the sharing of music staff at the high school/junior, and junior high/elementaries. Changes in the schedule at one building impacts instruction in other buildings.

Changing enrollment patterns at Plymouth High School were a factor as strategies were considered. Core 40 requirements are causing enrollment shifts which result in increases in some areas and decreases in others.

Parents have expressed concern about the schedule at Lincoln Junior High. Their child’s’ entire schedule is driven by choices in enrollment in band or choir.

During this current year, the elementaries and junior high share art teachers. The unavailability of art teachers from the junior high at a consistent time has caused constant changing of schedules at the elementaries.

The size of the ELL staff at Lincoln Junior High does not meet the needs of those students.

3) The third factor considered when developing the spending reduction strategy was finances. The 2005 budget has been cut $117,000. The district is receiving an additional shortfall due to the lack of state appropriations.

The Board approved a spending reduction strategy which includes the following adjustments:
· There will only be one prep period for each staff member at Lincoln Junior High next year.
· Foreign language instruction will be postponed until the 9th grade.
· Mrs. Baldwin will become a full-time ELL teacher at Lincoln Junior High.
· The assignments of the music staff will be arranged so that three music teachers are assigned to the elementaries, two music teachers are assigned to Lincoln Junior High, and two music teachers are assigned to Plymouth High School.
· Mrs. Mercer will be transferred to Plymouth High School to cover French and English classes.
· Mr. Isenbarger will be transferred to Plymouth High School to cover PE, health and social studies classes.
· Ms. Young will be transferred to Lincoln Junior High to cover health classes.
· Mr. Skirvin will teach both business and PE classes.
· Ms. Lange will be transferred from Lincoln Junior High to Webster Elementary to cover an elementary class.
· Mr. Wenino will be available first and second periods all year for elementary art.
· Through utilization of current staff, the PE position at the high school will not be filled.
· Mr. Benedict will become a ½ time social studies teacher.
· One FACS position at the high school will be reduced to ½.
· Mrs. Freidhoff will be replaced through a transfer instead of hiring a new person.
· Through attrition and elimination of some positions, the total number of assistants in the district will be reduced by eight.
· The extra contract days for the Ag teacher will be reduced by 20 days.
· The extended contract of a music teacher will be reduced by 10 days.
· The extracurricular positions of pool director, girls basketball program director, boys basketball program director, debate coach, 13-15 year old baseball coach, 8th grade assistant boys basketball coach, 8th grade assistant girls basketball coach, team leaders at Lincoln Junior high will not be filled.
· We will reduce the losses in the textbook fund by $40,000.

Total savings to the district for calendar year 2005: $163,018
Total savings to the district for calendar year 2006: $326,691

In other business, the Board heard a report on the NCA documentation visit at Jefferson Elementary and donated property behind Menominee Elementary to the park department for the city Greenway Project.

The next board meeting will be May 12, 2005 at 5:00 o’clock p.m. at the Administration office.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Construction Update

A construction meeting was held on April 21, 2005 @ 9:00 a.m.

During the next two weeks:
The slab in the band room will be poured at Lincoln. All the cement floors will be poured at Webster. The floors in the large band room, corridor 112, and the weight room will be poured at Plymouth High School. The footings for the mezzanine walls in the music area at PHS will be poured next week. The internal walls in the music room at Plymouth High School will be completed. The mezzanine walls and steel will be up in the music area. The interior walls at Webster will be completed. The footers and the foundations will be poured for the dry storage areas at Lincoln Junior High. Insulation on the Webster roof will be installed and shingling will begin. Windows at Webster and Washington will be installed. The kitchens at Lincoln and Washington will be painted through the finish coats. The ceiling grid will be started in the Washington and Lincoln kitchens. The brick at Webster will be caulked and sealed. Temporary coverings will be constructed at Lincoln and Washington for the wall demolition.

Installation of kitchen equipment:
It was announced that the kitchen equipment will arrive and be installed at Lincoln on June 1, 2005. Installation of kitchen equipment at Washington will begin on June 15, 2005.

Pre-Construction Meeting for Phase II:
The pre-construction meeting for Phase II was conducted this morning at 10:00 a.m. All contractors will begin mobilization. The CCI construction trailer will be on site at the new elementary next Wednesday. Construction schedules will be issued in the near future.

The next meeting date for Phase I is May 5, 1005.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Welcome to the Blogosphere!

Terri Dennie and Jeff Hunter have established a classroom blog . Please visit and see how this technology can be used with students and parents.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Monday Potpourri

The Wawasee blog has two interesting articles for your reading. One shows that certified teachers are more effective than non-certified and the second discusses public school students out performing private students. If you have a chance, click on the highlighted words above and it will take you directly to that blog.

Last week we held our 4th technology summit. The summit began with a presentation by Plymouth High School graduate Chad Barden explaining what is needed and expected of high school graduates if they are to participate in the new economy. We also reviewed articles about technology.

As a group, participants in the summit identified those technology skills and knowledge areas that students should have when they graduate from our district. Participants also developed a list of technology activities that can be used to improve student achievement. We further discussed the use of long-distance learning and shared some examples of how the long-distance learning equipment has been used thus far.

In the 4th discussion session , participants from the elementary levels, the middle school and high school levels developed preliminary procedures for selecting software and hardware in the future. The final discussion session focused on the technological skills and knowledge each teacher should possess. This information will be used to write our three-year technology plan which must be submitted to the state of Indiana. If you wish to see a copy of the results of the technology summit, please ask your principal.

A rally to demonstrate support for more funding for public schools will be held tomorrow evening at Washington High School in South Bend, IN. It begins at 5:00 p.m.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Where's Waldo

I remember a decade ago a series of fascinating youth books entitled, Where’s Waldo The book series eventually branched out to games, napkins, paper cups and even neckties. If you liked Where’s Waldo, you may have found Saturday at the Plymouth Library just as exciting. This time let’s call it Where’s Steve, Where’s Vic. Those who didn’t see the small article in the Pilot News this week probably went to the public library Larimore Room at 9:15 and found it empty. This is one might have played Where’s Steve, Where’s Vic.

Representative Steve Heim and Senator Vic Heinold cancelled their 3rd House breakfast, citing reasons of busy schedules. They were also too busy to make an appearance at the rally last weekend at the Indiana Statehouse. We can only hope that our elected legislators stop playing the no-show game and start representing their constituency by finding the resources necessary to fund the mandates they seem fated to pass. You have to wonder if Representative Heim is spending more time courting his largest contributor, Christel Dehan, an Indianapolis business woman (see line 7722) than he is with the fine people in his own district.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Board Highlights

The board met in regular session last evening. The members of the Webster 4th grade Math Bowl Team were honored for their 1st place finish in the district competition. The elementary handbook for 2005-2006 was reviewed.

John Shultz gave his yearly report from the technology department. He shared the status of the goals of the previous year and the goals that the department set for the next year. Jon reported Plymouth schools had 600 computers in service in January of 1998. Today we have 1,347.

Dan Tyree gave a five year ISTEP report. He reviewed progress that has been made in English/Language Arts, Mathematics and Science ISTEP scores.

The board accepted bids for Phase II in the amount of $12,535,386.00. A change order for -$78,598.00 will be written to one contract which brings the total project construction cost to $12,502,045.00. This amount is $33,341.00 below the construction document estimate.

The two year delay has cost the district approximately $1.5 million dollars for Phase II alone.

The next board meeting will be on April 21, 2005 at Jefferson Elementary at 7:00 p.m.

State Happenings

Governor Daniels reacted to the educational rally held Wednesday. We are deeply disappointed the governor refuses to recognize the $588,849 in cuts that have made at Plymouth since 2001. He failed to recognize Plymouth has lost 11.7% of its administrative staff and 2.5% of its teaching staff since 2000. His proposed budget would have necessitated deep cuts in all facets of our programs. Our staff is dedicated to continuous improvement. We expected more support both emotionally and fiscally from his office.

The voucher bill has apparently died in this year’s session. Thank you to all who communicated with their representatives. Keep an eye on happenings in Indianapolis. A legislative session is much like a basketball game. “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over”

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Construction Update

A construction meeting was held on April 7, 2005 @ 9:00 a.m.

During the past two weeks:
The interior masonry at Washington and at the Lincoln kitchen is 95% complete. The framing of the roof has been completed at Webster. The interior footings have been poured on the music wing at Plymouth High School and work has continued on the bearing walls in the music wing. The footers have been poured and the foundation walls are being formed at this time in the multi-purpose room area.

During the next two weeks:
The interior masonry work at Lincoln and Washington will be completed. The cement slab will be completed in the music area at Lincoln. The footers and foundations will be completed for the dry storage area at Lincoln. The slab at Webster is scheduled for pouring on the 22nd of April. The metal decking on the roof at Webster will be started Monday and completed within two weeks.

At Plymouth High School, the construction of the interior walls in the music wing will continue. The bar joist over the corridor in the music wing will be installed tomorrow. Work will continue on the foundations in the multi-purpose area.

Gas Shut-off:
The gas will be shut off at Washington by NIPSCO for a short period of time during the spring. This will be done after the heating season and Mrs. Riise will be notified. This should not interfere with schooling in that building.

The next meeting is scheduled for the 21st of April.

The Rally

We attended the rally at the statehouse yesterday afternoon. The passion and enthusiasm of the participants was inspiring. Several speakers explained the need for additional funding for schools and the potential impact of unfunded mandates.

It was reported that teachers from John Glenn met with and were informed by Representative Heim that he was supporting all the bills that contained unfunded mandates. We were unable to meet with the representative and could not verify that report. It is critical that you contact Representative Heim and express that he vote "no" on SB 281, SB 200, SB 231, SB 371, and SB 598. These bills contain processes for moving dollars away from public schools when increases are minimal. Please email immediately at,Steveh17hr .