Valpo School Board honors groups, hears program changes

2014-06-13T12:51:00Z 2014-06-13T19:05:31Z Valpo School Board honors groups, hears program changesSusan O’Leary Times correspondent
June 13, 2014 12:51 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | As is traditional at the end-of-school-year meeting, the Valparaiso Community Schools School Board honored several groups for their achievements.

The board recognized the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Science Olympiad team for its 2014 state championship, and the Valparaiso High School Concert Choir, which earned seventh place at the state competition.

Rob Thorgren of the Valparaiso Schools Foundation reported the group raised $50,000 for senior scholarship and grants, and Carrie Bruce, the American Heart Association liaison for the schools, announced students raised more than $13,000 through fundraising events.

Students from Hayes Leonard and Northview elementary schools and Valparaiso High School won scholarships for their artwork in the 2014 Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction District Rain Barrel Design Contest, said Donna Stuckert, of the organization.

Personnel changes at the schools include one retiree, 15 resignations, eight leaves, nine transfers and changes, 13 people recommended for employment, and 12 extracurricular resignations.

An English language learner handbook, to be used as an internal reference to keep VCS in compliance with state and federal regulations, was presented by Despina Amanatidis, VCS ELL district coordinator. Amanatidis said more than 300 students who speak 29 languages represent those in the VCS ELL program.

Becky Kirkpatrick reviewed early intervention, prevention, and education social services provided to 34 percent of VCS elementary school students, including suicide screenings and interventions, and assessments of abuse and neglect, depression and anxiety. Kirkpatrick said a team of five staff with master’s degrees and mental health backgrounds cover eight elementary school buildings.

“Some very serious mental health issues are coming in at the kindergarten level,” said Kirkpatrick.

Superintendent Mike Berta said the district will participate for the first time in the Summer Feeding Program at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, which provides summertime breakfast and lunch to students. The board approved lunch meal price increases of 10 cents for the 2014-15 school year.

The board approved a bid for $741,559 by E.C. Babilla Inc., of Gary, for roofing projects at Valparaiso High School and Ben Franklin Middle School. The money will come from the deferred maintenance bond.

The board postponed announcing ISTEP results until its July meeting, as Berta said the state is still processing results.

“ISTEP results are in, but summative results are embargoed by the state,” said Berta. “They are still processing and computing the results, and the information cannot be made public until they are confident.”

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