Local school officials will spend at least the next month counting the number of students registered for and attending class to see how those numbers compare with last year.
Clark-Pleasant has had more than 100 additional students attending its schools for the past two years, while Center Grove also had more than 100 additional students last fall.
Clark-Pleasant had more than 6,200 students last school year, and administrators expect the number to rise 11 percent during the next five years, primarily at the middle and high schools.
Center Grove officials also expect more students, primarily around the central and southern parts of the school district as more families with children move into the area.
Most of the county’s school districts had been enrolling more students until six years ago, when the housing market crashed and Franklin was flooded.
While more families are starting to move into Clark-Pleasant and Center Grove, the number of new students attending Franklin schools generally has fallen or held steady since 2008. Greenwood schools also had about 150 fewer students this past school year, and school officials are trying to figure out what led to the drop.
School districts receive funds from the state based on the number of students attending their schools. That money pays for teachers’ salaries and benefits. Starting last year, school officials had to submit student counts twice a year.
That means a school district’s state funding can change every six months if students leave or arrive midway through the school year. But schools’ expenses won’t change because teachers and other employees are contracted for the full school year.
The more students a school district has, the more money it receives from the state, which enables districts to hire more teachers and keep class sizes smaller. Smaller class sizes mean teachers can provide more one-on-one attention for students who need extra help.
Johnson County students won’t be the only ones learning the layouts of new schools and trying to place names with new faces.
More than 100 new teachers and administrators will start work at area schools this semester.
Some are taking over for more than 50 teachers, administrators and staff members who retired or resigned last spring and during the summer, while others were hired as a result of more students moving into a school district, such as Clark-Pleasant.
Greenwood and Clark-Pleasant both planned to hire from 20 to 40 teachers by the start of school, similar to the number of teachers the school districts hired last fall. And both districts could hire more as new students register for class. The school districts started posting job openings and interviewing candidates in the spring; about 60 candidates usually apply for an open middle or high school position, while hundreds of hopeful teachers typically apply for jobs at elementary schools.
Teachers have spent the days and weeks leading up to the start of school setting up their classrooms and meeting to plan for exactly what they’ll do during the first days and weeks of the school year.
Several local schools also will get new leaders.
Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corp. hired Tim Edsell as the school district’s new full-time superintendent, and one of Edsell’s first jobs was to find a new principal and assistant principal for Indian Creek High School. Former principal Maria Woodke left Indian Creek to become an assistant superintendent at Franklin schools, while former assistant principal Nick Sears took a job with another central Indiana school district.
At Greenwood Community High School, former assistant principal Todd Garrison was named as the high school’s new principal. He will oversee the building’s new and returning teachers and will be in charge of ensuring the first days of school go smoothly.
Two Center Grove elementary schools’ students will learn reading, writing and arithmetic while construction crews renovate the building around them.
Center Grove began building projects at Center Grove Elementary School and North Grove Elementary School this summer in order to move the schools’ gymnasiums to the exterior of the buildings and to expand the cafeterias.
The school district also is adding classrooms at Center Grove Elementary.
Construction at both buildings is expected to continue through December 2015.
Center Grove also is planning to renovate Center Grove High School, expanding its media center and adding a tech bar, but construction hasn’t started yet on that project.
This is the second consecutive year students in Johnson County have been attending classes in a school that is under construction. Last year, crews worked through the school year to add classrooms to Southwest and Westwood Elementary schools in Greenwood, which were out of room for students.
Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools also plans a construction project to add a wing for its youngest elementary school students to Indian Creek Intermediate school. The school board voted over the summer to move forward with the project, but specific construction plans haven’t been announced.
Students shouldn’t notice a big difference in the lessons or assignments they complete this school year, but they will see a change in the way state tests how much they’ve learned.
Originally, Indiana was supposed to start using a new set of standards, called Common Core, in all grades this school year.
The goal of the new standards was to better develop students’ critical thinking skills and to show students how the lessons they learn in one subject apply to another, such as how math relates to science and language arts to social studies.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers voted to drop Common Core and instead have Indiana create its own set of academic standards. School officials, who had been drafting their lessons around Common Core, saw the state’s new requirements for the first time this spring. Since then, they’ve been reviewing their lessons to see what changes they have to make.
Right now, teachers aren’t expecting to have to make drastic changes to their lesson plans, as many of the new academic standards appear similar to Common Core.
What no one knows right now is how the state will test students over what they’ve learned at the end of the school year.
Originally, Indiana was supposed to begin giving the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam in the spring, but that test was dropped when Common Core was dropped. Now, the state has to create a new standardized test for students to take in the spring that aligns with the new standards to measure what students have learned throughout the school year and gauge whether they’re being adequately prepared for college and their careers.
The results of that test will still be used to evaluate teachers and to determine the letter grades schools receive from the state. Teachers will use those results to assess how much students have learned throughout the school year and what lessons they’ll use when students return to school in the fall of 2015.