School board wraps up months of work with new districts

The Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees wrapped up months of work, deliberation and often frustration Monday, Oct. 23, settling on new district boundaries to begin with the 2018-19 school year.

The changes reflect the closing at the end of this year of Lancaster and Northwest elementary schools, the reopening next fall of Horace Mann Elementary and the future new school to be built in Roanoke.

The vote was 6-1, with Board President Mathew Roth voting against the motion to change elementary school boundaries.

Roth said he felt the maps merited additional discussion, especially in the northeast portion of the county, where parents are likely to work in Fort Wayne.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to try and hold the administration as to keep these numbers under our preferred capacity,” he said, noting that Flint Springs’ number is over the goal by five students. He asked whether that number could be reduced.

Earlier in the meeting, Roth introduced resident David Bowman, who asked the board to reconsider the boundary between Andrews and Roanoke schools.

He said the proposed lines would place his children in the farthest edge of the Andrews district and make it difficult for parents who work in Fort Wayne. However, Superintendent Randy Harris said moving the line to Ind.-5 as Bowman proposed would cause an unbalanced number of students at the two schools.

“It bumps the number up at Roanoke, and makes it extremely tight at Roanoke,” he said. “It also makes Andrews a little bit smaller than we would like it.”

Board Member Reed Christiansen noted that it would also curtail the number of transfers that could be made at Roanoke.

Transportation Director Vanessa Fields said if the boundary lines were set to those proposed by Bowman, it would create disproportionate numbers in students at those schools, something the administration has worked during the redistricting process to balance as evenly as possible.

Fields added the lines as they are drawn keep the number of students at each school as even as possible.

Following the vote, Harris said things will begin to move more quickly between now and Christmas break.

“It will not slow down after the first of the year,” he promised.

Roth thanked Fields and the administration for their work in devising the redistricting maps and working on other tasks needed as the board looks ahead to finding a new location for the central office and constructing a new Roanoke elementary school.

“I know we’re all trying to get as close to right – as there is a ‘right’ – as we can,” he said. “I think we’ve worked through on this and hopefully we’ll get the other parts of the to-do list moving forward. I think we’ve made some real progress over the last couple of weeks.”

The redistricting maps can be found at the school corporation’s website, www.hccsc.k12.in.us/ under the “Redistricting Information” link near the top of the page.

On another vote, the board unanimously decided that Roanoke, Flint Springs and Lincoln fifth-graders will move on to Crestview Middle School, and Salamonie, Horace Mann and Andrews students will move on to Riverview Middle School.

The board also heard the revised voluntary student transfer policy on its first official reading.

Under the new policy, transfer requests must be submitted to the student’s home school, giving details on the reason and necessity for the transfer.
The request must be approved by the principals of both schools. If either principal denies the request, the transfer is denied.

Parents may appeal the decision to the superintendent for a hearing and final determination.

The entire policy may be reviewed online at www.boarddocs.com/in/hccsc/Board.nsf/files/AS7TEC72FB38/$file/po5120.01_wMarkups_20171016.p df.

The board will likely vote on the policy on second reading at its next meeting on Nov. 13.

In other items acted on by the board:

• The 2018 school capital projects fund plan resolution was unanimously adopted. The plan covers HCCSC for the years 2018 through 2020.

• The board also unanimously adopted the 2018 budget. The $54 million budget has a tax levy of $13,915,990 at a proposed tax rate of $1.0308.

The budget documents can be seen on the state’s Gateway website, www. .budgetnotices.in.gov/Unit_View.aspx?unit_id=1875.

• A resolution to adopt the 2018 bus replacement plan was also unanimously passed, for the years 2018 through 2029.

• A two-year agreement between HCCSC and the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA to use its swimming pool and support areas was adopted 6-0, with board member Tim Allen abstaining. The agreement covers the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, in which HCCSC will pay the YMCA $30,000 per school year.

• Five new course proposals at Huntington North High School were approved 7-0 on their first reading. The courses are American Sign Language, Athlete Weight Training, Ethnic Studies, Indiana Studies and Math 10 and application.

HNHS Principal Russ Degitz explained that the Ethnic and Indiana studies courses are mandated by the state. The math course is primarily for sophomores who didn’t pass algebra. American Sign Language will count as a foreign language credit. Degitz added that no additional staff will be required for the new courses.