Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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May 10, 2013

Student spike saves building trades

BENTON – Hammers will be swinging for the Fairfield building trades class when the 2013-14 school year begins.

Despite low numbers just a few weeks ago, the class now has 15 students registered. Eight of those are students from West Noble, who will take the class as part of a vocational cooperative between Fairfield, West Noble and Wawasee.

 “We will be able to maintain that program for another year,” Superintendent Steve Thalheimer said at Thursday’s board meeting.

The program was briefly on the chopping block as Fairfield tries to make up an estimated $175,000 budget shortfall. As of the April 18 meeting, only 3 students were registered and West Noble had indicated their students would be attending a program in Kendallville.

Also under consideration were three areas at the elementary schools where enrollment could lend itself to reducing three sections down to two. All have resolved themselves through teachers resigning and enrollment.

 “It does not look like we will need to RIF anyone,” Thalheimer said, referring to sending out Reduction in Force notices to teachers.

A final staffing recommendation for 2013-14 will be presented at the May 23 meeting.

The board approved $112,143 in security upgrades to the corporation’s buildings, contingent on securing a $50,000 matching grant from the state.

Recently passed Senate Bill 1 would allow schools to apply for funds to help pay for school resource officers or security or technology upgrades. Thalheimer told the board before the vote that he wanted to get in line with a vendor, so that as soon as funds became available, work could begin. If there would be any issues securing the grant, Thalheimer would bring it back to the board.

LaZarro would install buzz-in systems with cameras at all the buildings, and add a card-swipe entry system at Benton Elementary School and Fairfield Junior-Senior High School. Millersburg and New Paris elementary schools already have the card system.

LaZarro was not the lowest bid, but the other two vendors would require a separate computer to house the system, which would have increased the cost. LaZarro is also who installed the systems at Millersburg and New Paris.

In other business

• The board approved the hiring of Monica Kegerreis as high ability/testing coordinator. She had been a teacher at Fairfield schools, but left to work in a high-ability classroom in Elkhart.

• The board also approved the resignation of Fairfield Principal Ben Tonagel, who is leaving to take the principal job at LaPorte High School. Tonagel began as dean of students six years ago, and took over as principal three years ago when Phil Hoskins retired.

 “It is very bittersweet,” Tonagel said of leaving. “This has been a great place for my family. This is a great community and it makes it very hard to leave.”

 Tonagel will begin his new role July 1. Thalheimer said he is working with the board to develop a plan to find Tonagel’s replacement.

 

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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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