HIGHLAND | Four candidates, including one incumbent, are vying for the two at-large seats on the Highland School Board.
The drop in ISTEP-Plus scores for elementary and middle school students and budget cuts because of changes in state reimbursement for schools top the issues facing the School Town of Highland, the candidates said.
Incumbent Carol Green-Fraley, 66, said the board and schools must “continue to maintain current progress in both academics and athletics.”
Funding cuts instituted by the Indiana Department of Education resulted in the loss of about $2 million in reimbursements to the district, Green-Fraley said.
Despite that, she said, “the board has felt strongly that we are not cutting any educational programs.”
The father of six children, Patrick M. Krull said those budget cuts threaten programs that are necessary for producing well-rounded students.
“We must maximize our resources. I don’t want to cut the arts,” said the 41-year-old, who graduated from Highland High School in 1989. “The challenge is how to keep our education and curriculum open.”
Both Frank W. Postulka, 50, and Richard E. "Rick" Volbrecht, 64, said the drop in ISTEP-Plus scores among third- through eight-graders is a major issue that must be addressed.
“The demographics in Highland are changing. We need to adjust our teaching methods to accommodate those changing demographics,” Postulka said.
“(The School Board) needs to make certain our administrators and superintendent are responsible, and that they are providing teachers with the necessary tools.”
A community activist and former Highland School Board member, Volbrecht has repeatedly criticized both the dropping ISTEP-Plus scores and the school district’s “poor performance for years of several of Highland’s major athletic teams.”
Volbrecht cites state Education Department statistics that show “the 2012 ISTEP-Plus average passing rate for grades three to eight has dropped 2.6 percent in English, from 86.4 percent in 2011 down to 83.9 percent in 2012, and dropped 1.6 percent in math, from 84.9 percent in 2011 to 83.3 percent in 2012.”
Highland’s ISTEP-Plus scores also have “dropped 2.2 percent in students passing both English and math, from 77.9 percent in 2011, down to 75.7 percent in 2012,” he said.