Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Blogging with our local representative

Steve Heim, who represents our district in the General Assembly's House of Representatives, has established a blog to enhance communication with his constituency. We encourage you to read Steve's blog regularly and communicate your concerns or words of encouragement. A link to the blog is located to the right of this article.

Cooperative Purchasing

There are two bills in the Indiana General Assembly that directly encourage Indiana schools to do more in the area of cooperative purchasing. Portions of these bills enable schools to build upon past cooperative purchasing efforts. Indiana Education Service Centers have been active in this arena by pooling resources with member districts and private schools for 25 years. Plymouth Community School Corporation has been an active member of the Northern Indiana Educational Services Center for 25 years. Through our association we have saved thousands of dollars on a yearly basis, not only through cooperative purchasing of equipment and materials, but through many other services and products. If we focus only on the cooperative purchasing done by our school corporation during the 2004-2005 school year, $96,472 in savings were achieved. These savings were made on items such as school buses, cafeteria food and supplies, waste removal, copy paper, light bulbs, carpeting, school furniture, and thousands of other items. Through NIESC we have access to a web based purchasing system that allows us to purchase thousands of materials at bid prices or at reduced catalog prices. Many of these items are on statewide or multi-state bids.

We have actively pursued these savings for years. A ten-year history would show savings approaching $572,178 for Plymouth Community School Corporation. Yearly savings have grown significantly as more opportunities have been added. While there are concepts found in HB 1006 and SB 323 that need continued work and clarification, the cooperative purchasing portions of the bill will enable Indiana schools to do even better and save more dollars to be used directly for instruction. That is what we have worked to do in the past and will continue to do in the future.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Board Highlights

The Board of Trustees met in regular session last evening at Menominee Elementary. In addition to its regular business, a report on the Menominee School Improvement Plan was given by Mrs. Kruger and Mrs. Durbin. They explained the results of the ISTEP+ and the interventions the staff at Menominee is undertaking to improve student achievement in that building.

Three new courses, Entrepreneurship, Peer Tutoring, and Beginning Orchestra, were approved at Plymouth High School.

The board accepted Conflict of Interest statements from board members and school administrators.

Dr. Hill gave a report on transfer students. This year there are 58 ½ students who are cash transfer-in or placement-in students. The district is paying the tuition for 17 students placed in settings outside the district.

Eric Wolfe, construction manager for the building project gave a report on the progress at the new Menominee building. The construction has been hampered by Mother Nature. High winds blew down a wall in December workers are battling muddy conditions. Mr. Wolfe presented a schedule that will result in the completion of the project in time to register students August 1st and open school on August 16th.

The next board will be held on Monday, February 6th at 7:00 p.m. in the Plymouth High School cafeteria. During that meeting a hearing on redistricting will be held.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Town Hall Meetings

On behalf of the Board, thank you very much for attending the Town Hall meetings. Dr. McKibben was able to garner valuable input that will be used in the design of two scenarios for Board consideration in February.

A special thank you is extended to Ed Rodriguez for serving as the interpreter for both sessions.

The new scenario maps will appear on the blog as soon as they are available. The target date is February 2nd.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Welcome to the Blogosphere!

Keep up-to-date with the Pilgrim boys' basketball team. Please double -click "Pilgrim's Basketball", located in the index to your right.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Meeting with Webster PTO

I had an opportunity to meet with the Webster PTO last week. It is apparent that the strong PTO, along with the dedicated staff, has contributed to Webster’s success. We discussed redistricting and the selection of a new principal.

The PTO members shared the characteristics of a new principal as the search begins. Those characteristics included a person with elementary teacher or elementary experience,
-who cares about kids;
-who is willing to get experience;
-who is willing to search for opportunities for the building;
-who is someone like Donna;
-who will do the work;
-who is willing to keep some of the old but bring in new ideas;
-who is excited to work with the PTO;
-with high moral standards;
-with a calm demeanor;
-who is a good listener;
-who is flexible and willing to try new things;
-who will bring new ideas;
-with a diversified background;
-with some foreign language experience;
-who is a servant leaders;
-who is a nurturer

I wish to express a “thank you” to the members of the Webster PTO who took the time to be willing to share.

Prepared by John Hill.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

6+1 Traits Writing Rubric

Students and parents will start seeing a new writing rubric in the next months. The 6 Trait s of Writing model was developed by researches from the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory in Portland, Oregon in the mid 1980’s. The +1 was added several years ago. The research-based writing assessment is designed to be comprehensive, reliable, and teacher and student friendly. Plymouth Schools adopted it because it provides teachers and students a researched-based rubric that uses common language from grades K-12.

The following is a brief definition of each trait.

1. Ideas: Ideas make up the content of the piece of writing – the heart of the message.

2. Organization: Organization is the internal structure of the piece, the thread of meaning, the logical pattern of the ideas.

3. Voice: Voice is the soul of the piece. It’s what makes the writer’s style singular, as his or her feelings and convictions come out through the work.

4. Word Choice: Word choice is at its best when it includes the use of rich, colorful, precise language that moves and enlightens the reader.

5. Sentence Fluency: Sentence fluency is the flow of the language, the sound of word patterns – the way the writing plays to the ear, not just the eye.

6. Conventions: Conventions represent the piece’s level of correctness – the extent to which the writer uses grammar and mechanics with precision.

+1. Presentation: Presentation zeros in on the form and layout – how pleasing the piece is to the eye.

To read more about this new writing assessment, visit the website for the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory at www.nwrel.org/assessment/department.php?d=1

Friday, January 06, 2006

Blog Bits

Board Highlights

The Board of Trustees met in regular session last evening.

In addition to its regular business, Todd Samuelson was elected board President for 2006. Frank Brubaker was selected as Vice President, and Ron Gifford was selected as Secretary.

Kandi Tinkey was appointed Treasurer, and Lori VanDerWeele as Deputy Treasurer.

Larry Pinkerton will be the board representative to the Student Advisory Committee.

Joe Morris was appointed legal counsel.

Ron Gifford was appointed as legislative liaison.

Frank Brubaker will be the board representative for the Student Services Committee.

A schedule for regular board meetings was adopted.

A report on ISTEP scores was presented by Mr. Tyree.

Employees in the Administrative Office

Kandi Tinkey is replacing Donna Mattix as the Corporation Treasurer.

Lori VanDerWeele has been transferred to Deputy Treasurer and will be in charge of payroll.

Wendy Haenes is the new receptionist.

Construction Update

Jefferson Elementary – the installation of the new fire alarm system was started over winter break. The shipment of windows for the new addition is scheduled for January 11th with installation on January 16th. The construction manager anticipates the installation of ceiling grid and overhead lights during the next two week period.

Plymouth High School – The floor surface is being installed in the multi-purpose room. Upon completion, the weight room flooring material will be installed. The Fritz tile installation in the north lobby is near completion. Workers will continue to install tile in the multi-purpose room entranceway and in the hallway in that wing. The divider has been installed in the cafeteria. Installation of the divider in the ensemble room is underway. Wood has arrived for the performance area in the studio theatre. Data and phone line installation is progressing for the new wings. The new light poles in the parking lot have been erected. They should be functional within the next week.

Riverside Intermediate (Menominee) – The parking lot poles have been erected. They should to be functioning within the next week.

The new Menominee – The building of the last exterior wall has been started. The brick veneer on current exterior walls is 80% complete. The concrete floors in the boiler room, kitchen, receiving area, dining room, art room, mezzanine, and hallway between the art room and dining room have been poured. The boiler pads have been poured. The boilers have been set and some of the air handling equipment has been set in the mezzanine area. Installation of the roof continues over the northern half of the building.

Washington, Webster, and Lincoln – Punch lists have been updated.


Dr. Suellen Reed has nominated Webster Elementary to be designated as a blue ribbon school by the federal government. Webster Elementary has been recognized for its ability to close the achievement gap among its diverse populations.

Mary Kay Luchenbill, second grade teacher at Webster, has been nominated for the Disney Teacher Award.

Our custodians have worked extremely hard during the winter break to refresh our buildings.

Town Hall Meetings

The Town Hall Meetings, “Redistricting - A Work in Progress,” are scheduled for January 16th at 5:30 p.m. in the Jefferson cafeteria. January 16th at 7:30 p.m. in the Menominee cafeteria. January 17th at 7:00 p.m. in the Webster cafeteria.

All parents and patrons are encouraged to attend and ask questions. Dr. McKibben uses the information collected from each meeting to develop scenarios. If you have a question for Dr. McKibben, please email your question to jhill@plymouth.k12.in.us and it will be forwarded to him.