HCCSC board gives approval for no-fee textbook, lunch account card

Textbook rental fees and lunch account charges for Huntington County Community School Corporation students will soon be payable with a credit card that won’t assess parents and guardians an extra fee.

The change was announced at the HCCSC Board of School Trustees meeting Monday, Feb. 10, by Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Scott Bumgardner, who said the corporation has partnered with the company e-Funds for Schools to offer online payments for studentts’ meals and fees.

“Currently, if you go online and put in your credit card number to put money on your lunch account, you pay a fee. You pay whatever fees are associated with using that credit card – most likely a few dollars,” Bumgardner told the board. “If you come into the school and give your credit card to the secretary, we pay the fees. There’s been no consistency, no rhyme or reason to this, so we have overloaded our secretaries by constantly taking money in.”

The change will move up the timeline for textbook fee deadlines and allows parents to pay those and lunch fees as soon as April via credit card at no charge. For parents who need more time to pay the fees, they can now start paying them in April and not the middle of August, Bumgardner said.

“It’s very user-friendly, it’s very low cost and the best part about it is, that it allows us now, that when we open for registration, we can take textbook money and start collecting it then,” he added.

Bumgardner explained the school corporation is now mandated to turn in a report to the state by Oct. 30, showing what amount of textbook money that wasn’t collected. Bumgardner said those uncollected fees are currently reimbursable at 88 percent, which then allows HCCSC to purchase classroom materials it might not have otherwise afforded.

The school board will vote to approve the new credit card payment system for grades kindergarten through eighth at its next meeting on March 9, and information will be sent home to families by April 1.

Also on its agenda, the board heard about the new Guided Reading Libraries that will be coming to all the corporation’s elementary schools beginning fall of the 2020-2021 school year.

Elementary School Professional Development Coordinator Cathy Hull explained to the board the program, which starts readers off, individually, at the level they are currently reading at and brings that level up through a series of books.

“It’s all about that small group instruction, that enables the teacher to make those instructional decisions that help them meet
the needs of every single individual student,” she said.

Teachers “listen in” and observe their behaviors as they read, taking comments as to their needs so they can respond with strategy, reinforcing skills or move them on to a higher level.

Hull said there are 1,150 titles with six books per title in each of the Guided Reading Libraries, amounting to 6,900 books in each library. Those books will be bar coded and can be checked out by students.

Board members got a sneak peek at the first library, which has been set up at Salamonie Elementary School. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Jay Peters told the board the leveled library will take students to the next level in their reading skills.

“Our goal is that students will be reading at or above grade level when they leave the grade level they are currently in. That has got to be our focus,” he said. “Current research is telling us right now that if we don’t get students reading at or above grade level by the time they have left third grade, we may have lost them for their career.”

Superintendent Chad Daugherty also expressed his excitement at beginning the new program.

“This has been something we should have done for years,” he said. “I know our teachers feel like they have some tools in their toolbox and materials and resources now that they can use.”

In other business before the board:

• Peters presented a report on the recent eLearning/Flex days, and the training that teachers and staff obtained while students focused on their studies online. He said attendance is high and the students are turning in their assignments, making for a successful day.

“The professional training that we were able to offer for our staff had the potential to impact every child in our district,” Peters said. “These two flex days serve as a practice eLearning day to allow our students to access the campus and be prepared for inclement weather days and school workloads.”

Staff worked on such topics as behavioral interventions, stopping bleeds, literacy and training on Naviance, a college and career readiness software system.

• The purchase of boilers for Riverview Middle School was approved unanimously. The bid went to Build Temperature Solutions for $149,843, aided by a $30,000 energy development grant. The boilers will be installed this summer, replacing the school’s 40-year-old original equipment.