School board OKs student transfer policy and votes for end of valedictorians and salutatorians

A new Huntington County Community School Corporation voluntary student transfer policy received a collective nod in its second reading at the Board of School Trustees meeting on Monday, Nov. 13, as officials, parents and students prepare to decide where children will go to school next fall.

Board members voted 7-0 to accept the policy as it was presented in its first reading.

Board president Matt Roth said many of the board members had been contacted by parents with questions about the policy, which will be implemented for the 2017-18 school year.

Superintendent Randy Harris said an administrative guideline will be developed as principals receive requests for transfers.

Harris said the administration plans to send notices out to parents of elementary and middle school students notifying them which school their children will attend next year, and giving Feb. 2 as the tentative deadline for transfer requests.

“On that date, all of them will be treated equally, based on our priority for transfers,” he added.

Principals will then meet to go over the requests and make decisions about each one, using the following determining factors:

• Class size. Harris said the main reason for redistricting is to control class size, making this consideration a priority.

• Previously approved transfers.

• Requests for siblings. Harris said transfer requests for siblings must be submitted individually.

• Attendance and behavior of students requesting transfers. Poor attendance, tardiness and behavioral issues could be reasons to deny a transfer request, Harris said.

Harris said he anticipates a large number of transfer requests will likely be made this initial year.

However, transfer students from day care facilities such as Kids Kampus will receive transportation only if they are within the same elementary school district.

Harris said he welcomes communications about the policy by email to rharris@hccsc.k12.in.us.

Harris announced that Mark DuBois, the current principal at Northwest Elementary School, will transfer to Horace Mann Elementary next year as its principal.

Roth said he wants a decision by the Nov. 27 board meeting as to when the corporation’s central office will move from the Horace Mann building into a new location so the staff can begin to make it ready for use as a school again.

In another move, the board was divided as it voted on the second reading of the high school’s Distinguished Graduate program.

However, the program as presented at the Oct. 23 meeting was approved by a 4-3 vote. Board members Reed Christiansen, Brian Warpup and Kevin Yarger voted against the program, which replaces the current valedictorian/salutatorian program.

Warpup said he has concerns about taking away the valedictorian and salutatorian honors, saying he favored a “hybrid” of incorporating both programs for high-ranking graduating students.

“I really do like the program outline, because it has instituted a little more well-roundedness to the academics and leadership and intracurricular, but the eliteness is still something to attain,” he said. “That title of first place is a competitive edge. It’s hard for me not to keep that.”

The Distinguished Graduate program will begin with the class of 2022, whose students are now in eighth grade, Harris explained.

Students will earn points based on established criteria in areas such as grade point average, test scores, extracurricular participation and service.

The top 10 percent will be recognized as part of the program, with the top 3 percent receiving “distinguished” honors and the next 7 percent named “commended” graduates.

On another issue, teachers will get a raise for the third year in a row, after a new teacher contract was unanimously approved. Harris said that teachers will see an average increase of $800 per year.

Members of the Huntington County Teachers Association were in attendance as the contract was approved.

“Thanks for all the help that you do for the teachers and students in Huntington County schools,” Harris said.