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January 27, 2010

Wa-Nee principal: Keep trimester system

Wa-Nee facing deep budget cuts

NAPPANEE, Ind — With “everything on the table” regarding what to cuts to make up for a $839,362 cut in funding for Wa-Nee schools, NorthWood High School Principal Dave Maugel made case for taking the trimester schedule off that cutting board.

“We can’t have a one-way system to prepare students for the future,” Maugel said.

Maugel gave a lengthy presentation Monday night to school board members explaining the need now and in the future for the flexibility a trimester schedule.

With the school system looking to make cuts in the general fund, 82 percent of which is made up in staff salaries and benefits, cutting positions is one thing on the table.

One of those proposed cuts, Maugel said, is to cut a business position, leaving that department at three teachers.

Maugel said that amounts to a $75,000 savings when salary and benefits are combined and keeping a trimester schedule.

NorthWood went to trimesters in 2000, which enables students to work toward an Academic Honors diploma, by taking Advanced Placement and other high- and college-level classes.

Maugel outlined the negatives and benefits to the semester vs. trimester schedule. With a semester schedule, Maugel said, students will not have the flexibility to fit in electives needed to participate in fine arts and academic honors. Teachers will no longer be able to have the “Meeting of the Mind” each week where they analyze student data for the purposes of judging curriculum and planning remediation.

“Whoever had this vision, kudos to them,” Maugel said of the “Meetings.” “This is a big piece for students to be successful and it becomes a more critical piece as challenges rise.”

Maugel said a semester schedule will have a financial impact on the school as well. The school system’s general fund receives $900 for each student earning an Academic Honors diploma. This year, 114 students earned AH diplomas, for a total of $102,600. Maugel estimated with a semester schedule that total will be down by $69,000 due to a lower number of students able to earn the diploma.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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