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Three new school superintendents in Northwest Indiana have ambitious plans for their districts.

Jeffery Studebaker, former superintendent at Clinton Central School Corp. since 2013, was named superintendent of Merrillville Community School Corp. and began in the spring.

Cindy Scroggins, who had been assistant superintendent in the School City of Whiting, was named superintendent, replacing longtime Superintendent Sandra Martinez.

Paige McNulty, who had been assistant superintendent in School City of East Chicago for one year, was named superintendent replacing Youssef “Dr. Joe” Yomtoob.

Merrillville: Studebaker said it’s been a “fast-paced” transition as he hit the job with a 100-day plan, which he completed in June.

“In that first 100 days, I met with many, many people and had a parent round-table session,” he said.

Studebaker has restructured the district, and has developed a career and technical education department.

Last school year was the first year the district did not send students to Gary Area Career Center. Instead, officials provided the district’s own career and technical education classes and will roll out 25 new career and technical classes this fall.

Studebaker said in his previous school district, administrators developed two student-run restaurants within the high school, and he is looking to construct a restaurant at Merrillville High School that will be totally operated by students. He said plans have not been fully developed yet.

Studebaker said the district does not have a deficit and has a healthy rainy day fund.

He said he and key administrators devoted considerable time to researching and putting administrators in place. Former elementary school Curriculum Director Kara Bonin became the new principal at Merrillville Intermediate School for fifth- and sixth-graders.

Whiting

Former secondary Curriculum Director Lorri Covaciu left Merrillville’s district to become the new assistant superintendent at Whiting. Erin Nolan-Higgins will be the new Whiting Middle School principal.

Whiting’s new Superintendent Scroggins said her goal for the upcoming school year is to maintain a focus on student achievement, instructional practices and academic growth for all students.

“I will be working with the Board of School Trustees to set priorities for spending to ensure the budget is aligned with priorities and to maintain responsible and accountable fiscal planning,” she said.

“One of my long-range plans is to implement a 1-to-1 technology plan. I also will be working on initiatives such as an effective new teacher mentoring program in order to recruit and retain highly qualified staff,” she said.

East Chicago

McNulty said the district will consolidate its new middle schools for the next school year.

“Both schools were only half full, and it didn’t make financial sense to keep them both open,” she said.

“Block Middle School is the bigger of the two, so it will house both middle schools in the fall. We have obtained a general obligation bond and will be doing some improvements to Block.

“Our district’s long-range plans are to continue to enhance our educational services by adding more to our Career and Technical Education program, partner with many of the community agencies to provide services to our parents as well as students, and to increase the rigor in the classrooms so that students are challenged and, ultimately, our students’ academic growth will improve,” she said.

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Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.