Greenwood’s new superintendent wants more students making plans to continue their education after high school, especially those who don’t think they’ll need a bachelor’s degree.
Kent DeKoninck wants the schools to reach out to students who don’t plan to attend a four-year college and encourage them to get extra training before they start jobs after high school, including an associate’s degree, an apprenticeship or vocational training.
More than 90 percent of 2011 senior class at Greenwood Community High School graduated, but only about 63 percent of those students entered a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or technical certificate program, according to data from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.
DeKoninck wants that rate to increase.
The DeKoninck file
Name: Kent DeKoninck
Family: Wife, Amanda; two college-aged daughters, Hillary and Morgan
Position: Greenwood superintendent
Past administration jobs: Associate superintendent at Avon Community School Corp.; guidance director at Westfield High School; principal at Perry Meridian Middle School in Indianapolis; principal at Clay Middle School in Carmel; and director of personnel for Metropolitan School District Perry Township
Goals: Maintain financial stability, increase student achievement and promote Greenwood to families
DeKoninck, who started his job this month, will be in charge of helping create the policies that will impact more than 3,800 students and more than 200 teachers in Greenwood schools.
He also wants to find ways to bring technology into the classroom but knows that Greenwood can’t afford to buy iPads for every student.
Other local school districts, including Center Grove and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools, will provide iPads for all of their high school students this school year. And if Greenwood could afford the expense, it would to give students a tool they could use for research and other projects, he said.
But DeKoninck wants to be sure he can justify every purchase the school district makes. That’s why he’s reviewing the middle school and high school classes that already blend online and traditional lessons to see what kind of technology improves student grades before any new devices are purchased, he said.
Last year, certain classes started using laptops and iPads, and Greenwood has been surveying teachers and students to see whether the devices improve learning and how. Before Greenwood decides to purchase more devices for any schools, officials need to know exactly how they improve students’ understanding of science, English and other subjects, DeKoninck said.
“You want to be careful not to do something just because everybody’s doing it,” he said.
Funding is a key issue for school districts, which receive money for employees’ salaries and benefits based on the number of students enrolled. And Greenwood needs to keep itself competitive if school officials decide they want to go back to accepting students from outside the school district, DeKoninck said.
Earlier this year, the school board changed its transfer policy, barring students who live outside the school district from transferring in. That move was in response to a new state law that stops school districts from prohibiting student transfers for any reason other than a school being full.
DeKoninck supports the school board’s policy, but he also wants to be prepared in case the school district opens itself again to transfer students.
“There’s an increased competition in our education system. And I welcome that. That makes us better,” he said.
One of DeKoninck’s first priorities is to review the classes and career counseling the high school and Central Nine Career Center have for students interested in starting their careers soon after graduating. Schools need to recognize that not every student is interested in spending four years in college, and they need to eliminate any stigmas around careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, he said.
Students can find careers without attending traditional colleges or universities, he said, but they’ll likely need a one- to two-year certification or associate’s degree for those jobs.
DeKoninck also wants to start working with Greenwood businesses to offer students internships or apprenticeships. That kind of collaboration would help students learn trades they’re interested in, and businesses wouldn’t have to look far when they need to hire new employees, he said.