Goshen News, Goshen, IN

December 30, 2013

Goshen Community Schools had its share of triumphs and setbacks in 2013

Goshen Community Schools had triumphs and setbacks in 2013

By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL sherry.vanarsdall@goshennews.com
Goshen News

---- — GOSHEN — It was an outcome worthy of a high-five.

And that is just what Goshen Community Schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth and GCS board president Jane Troup did after the final votes were tallied in November for the renovations project referendum which includes a new pool.

The passing of the $17.15 million construction project by voters within the Goshen Community School Corp. boundaries was the highlight in good news for 2013.

A Technical Review Committee was formed after the voters approved the building project as part of the design-build process.

The planned renovations and additions to Goshen’s middle and high schools include the closure and repurposing of the two aging pools at the high school and middle school and the construction of a new pool on one of those school campuses to be shared by the entire school corporation.

School officials say the referendum will provide “for quality programs for the next 20 years.”

Earlier in May, the bad news came in the form of transportation cuts for 2013-2014 due to Indiana’s circuit breaker tax caps. The tax caps limit the amount of property taxes homeowners and businesses pay.

And the cuts in the busing program affected the music and athletic departments by eliminating funding for music and athletic trips as the district aimed for about $350,000 in savings, according to Assistant Superintendent Bob Evans.

Some of the other recommendations in transportation cuts included eliminating wait times at stops, utilizing bus hubs where students walk a block or two and meet at one place and enforcing the one-mile walk zones.

“We have the policy and we just haven’t enforced it,” said Troup. “It’s just enforcing the policy we have now.”

In June, Woodworth brought a proposal to the Goshen City Council that the corporation and the city split the cost of a $62,500 sidewalk improvement project.

The Council had voted 4-3 along party lines to defeat the proposal.

After the defeat, Woodworth said Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman suggested using the city’s existing 50/50 program for sidewalk construction.

So city engineer Mary Cripe worked with Evans to determine the properties that would be involved and new sidewalks were installed before the first day of school Aug. 9.

“The school then paid the resident’s portion for the sidewalk construction,” Woodworth said. “The board had previously approved the budget appropriations that were used for this purpose and appraised of this program.”

Redskin uproar

Just prior to graduation in June, school administrators had a wooden Indian chief statue removed from the gymnasium based on previous recommendations from an athletic council formed years ago to study the appropriateness of Goshen High School’s “Redskins” nickname.

The removal of the statue, which Woodworth called temporary, had fueled a social media uproar just days before commencement, as well as speculation that the school corporation had already changed its nearly 90-year-old nickname. The nickname, Woodworth had assured, was not changed.

And then Woodworth had issued a statement saying the statue would be placed back in the gymnasium in time for graduation.

Making the grade

Recently, new school grades through the state’s controversial A-F grading system were released following a meeting of the State Board of Education.

For Goshen Community Schools, the corporation received more gains than losses when it comes to grade improvements for the 2012-2013 school year.

Four of the corporation’s nine schools saw improvements in their grades, two saw no change from their 2012 grades, and three schools saw a drop in their grades from 2012.

“The A-F grades for GCS show some significant gains and thus we are pleased with the growth that was realized,” said Woodworth, following the release of the grades. “Our children are our community’s greatest treasure, and as such, GCS is truly committed to quality and excellence in all we do! We will continue to strive for improvement in student achievement, while maintaining our commitment to overall excellence and quality in all programs for our students.”