MARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
State Rep. Randy Frye tours the career center with SCC Supt. Brad Street and superintendents from Batesville, Milan, Sunman-Dearborn, Jac-Cen-Del, South Ripley, and Ohio County.
Recognizing the increasing enrollment, Southeastern Career Center school board knows they need to renovate and add space to the 47-year-old building in Versailles, but finding the means to do so is the problem. “We can’t get the funds the same as other school districts. Other corporations can raise rates from the tax base but SCC cannot,” Batesville Superintendent Jim Roberts and president of the SCC board commented at a special meeting Thursday, Oct. 3. The vocational school is one of four in the state. SCC is owned by the 12 participating schools from Southeast Indiana. Funding comes through tuition from each of the 12 schools.
Several of the superintendents who partner with SCC from Jac-Cen-Del, Batesville, Milan, South Ripley, Rising Sun/Ohio County, and Sunman-Dearborn along with Ripley County Economic Development Director Gary Norman, Cheryll Obendorf of Eco15, and Steve Mackey with Cummins gathered last Thursday for a tour and moreover, a way to discuss funding future building needs.
The board invited State Rep. Randy Frye, who is on the veteran, public safety, roads and financial institution committees, to hear their plight and ask for suggestions on how to seek state funding. Frye was given impressive facts about the school’s success, such as 64 percent of students went on to 1, 2 or 4 year post secondary schooling; 33 percent of 2012 graduates are working in the field they studied while at SCC; 91 percent graduated from high school, and all but two programs have dual credit opportunities.
SCC Superintendent Brad Street noted they had 610 students enrolled 13 years ago, and this year, 912. They project to enroll 1,100 in the next five years, hence the need to expand and/or renovate.
Street told Frye they have figured $4.1 million is needed, at the minimum, to address future space, roofing and utility needs. “We are an extension of 12 campuses but to rally funds for improvements is nearly impossible,” he said. The 12 sending schools do provide capital project funds, which are used for repairs and maintenance, but there is not enough for larger projects.
SCC incorporates practical learning experience for students and at the same time, saves dollars for the corporation. Street said they used to have students build a house, but when it took three years to sell, SCC abandoned residential building, and instead students are working on the school’s own wing addition. Street added, “We’re probably saving $250,000 to $300,000 by using our own labor however, by doing this, it will take longer to complete, probably two years.” He noted they just repaired a water line and saved about $50,000 by doing it themselves. “But we are at a point we need some help,” he commented.
Cummins, based in Columbus, has been a big supporter of the school’s diesel and other mechanic technician type programs. Steve Mackey with Cummins noted they hired two SCC students right out of school just recently at a high wage. Duke Energy and Honda also support various skilled labor programs. The thinking is a better program at SCC is better for local industries, and also helps boost the regional economy. Jim Roberts noted that Gov. Pence is advocating improving the skilled labor market in the state, and mentioned it during a visit to Batesville recently.
School attorney Larry Eaton advised the board to go to the state through the common school fund to borrow money. Frye took notes during the meeting, and then suggested they invite Pence to the next open house or for a tour. The board could write a letter about their needs, and he’ll hand deliver it to the Governor. After the meeting, he drafted a letter to both Pence and Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann. She immediately responded and committed to a visit Nov. 4 as part of her “Listen and Learn” series she conducts with 92 counties. Frye, who represents the 67th district, reminded them money is always tight in state budgets, and the next budget won’t be heard until 2015.
“What I hear today is you want to raise money to do a better job with your students. I suggest you have more than one solution.” He would be willing to write a legislative bill addressing funding, but said it won’t do much good without a hearing. “Then it’s just hope.” He said they need allies in their corner, and mentioned not just the Governor, but also Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, and Luke Kenley with the Ways and Means Committee. He also said the bill process is slow. “Nothing happens quickly at the legislature…now is the time to start talking about your proposal.”
He recommended to have several options in mind for financing. One idea would be to have each of the 12 schools ask for increased funding but earmarked for SCC. All 12 schools are on board with the renovation needs. “Everybody understands the need,” Dr. Phillippe said, mentioning JCD could not afford Project Lead the Way or other such programs without SCC. Likewise, Supt. Dr. Jeff Hendrix said while Sunman-Dearborn is the largest school corporation with SCC, they cannot afford to offer the programs SCC does.
Frye also suggested to remind lawmakers they are not eligible for the school resource officer funding, and that may help in their cause.
The SCC has put together a finance committee to address future capital funding needs, and Frye emphasized to keep him abreast of meetings so he could attend. “You have to have people working on your behalf.”
Yay! Students, staff thrilled at gifts from retailer
MARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
This was the jubilant reaction when it was announced Friday the Milan students would receive popsicles from Walmart. Notice the little girl in the far left corner trying to drown out the noise. They were just as happy when their teachers were rewarded.
Milan Elementary School was the recipient of the Walmart teacher rewards program. On Friday, representatives from the Aurora store presented 20 teachers with $50 reward cards to purchase classroom supplies.
The children were as thrilled as the teachers. A general assembly was held to give away the gift cards, and as each teacher’s name was called, the students erupted in cheers and applause, as if they had just won the lottery.
School principal Jane Rogers had the children wear their yellow Milan T-shirts, which had been donated by the PTO for special days and field trips. The school also gave 15 $20 gift cards to the rest of the teachers, custodians and cafeteria staff, and Walmart gave teacher supply gift bags to the assistants.
For the fifth year, Walmart will donate up to $4.6 million to provide 90,000 teachers across the United States with reward cards to help offset the cost of classroom expenses. It’s estimated many teachers spend $500 of their own money annually to make sure their students have needed supplies. More than 4,600 US Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations are eligible to select one local public school.
The kids were also rewarded by Walmart, as each received a popsicle at lunch.
Walmart and its Foundation donated more than $59 million to fund education programs across the country.