East Allen County Schools Ready For New School Year & 2012 Budget Cuts

By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

August 16, 2011 Updated Aug 16, 2011 at 10:52 PM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- Another year, another deficit in the East Allen County School district.

However, major cuts probably will not be necessary to balance the 2012 budget.

East Allen County Schools Assistant Superintendent Kirby Stahly said the district is looking at a $1.7 million dollar deficit.

However, Stahly said the district has access to about $1.8 million dollars in federal jobs funding that expires in 2012.

He suggested that the district use that money to balance their $59 million dollar budget.

However, declining enrollment, which is 200 students for the 2011-2012 school year will take it's toll on EACS.

Eventually, the district will need to create more revenue or make more cuts.

District leaders pointed out they've reduced staff by more than 100 employees through their Redesign plan, which will save EACS about $5 million dollars in wages.

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Meanwhile, EACS Director of Accountability Bill Diehl made a presentation to board members on the district's K-8 ISTEP scores.

Diehl said EACS test scores went up by 2% to 12% in 19 of 22 categories.

Diehl continued that it is the district's mission to catch up and then exceed state averages.

He said he can't promise but he felt like next year will be the year EACS beats K-8 ISTEP state averages.

Diehl contended that the Middle School grades needed the most work.

However, he believes that initiatives like a detailed 5-year plan, instructional coaches, and a math pilot program rooted in project based learning will improve student engagement and test scores.

"If we stand in front of a classroom and lecture to them for 45 minutes, they remember maybe five minutes," said East Allen County Schools Executive Director of School Management Chris Hissong.

"If we have them get their hands on it, then do the research and find out that information, they're going to remember it because they had to do the work to dig it out," Hissong explained.

He also highlighted an iPAD application named eWalk, which will be used by principals to perform quick 5 to 10 minute classroom assessment, to monitor effective instruction practices and student engagement.

Meanwhile, East Allen County Schools Board Member Terry Jo Lightfoot suggested that since EACS scores are trending up, the district should advertise their positive gains to increase enrollment, which could help ease future budget concerns.

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East Allen High School ISTEP+ scores were not discussed at Tuesday night's meeting.

However, as previously reported, Harding High School ISTEP+ scores improved enough, that if the school was still open, the school would not have been taken over by the state.

Meanwhile, East Allen County Schools Board Member Stephen Terry wanted to publicly congratulate all former Paul Harding High School students.

"It takes everybody to continue to soar high. It is an accomplishment for those Paul Harding students. They did a tremendous job in the last ISTEP," Terry said eagerly.

EACS Director of Accountability Bill Diehl said a report will not be ready until final high school ISTEP+ results are in, which is projected to be this October.




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