To Afford Small Indiana Schools, Merge Small School Corporations

by Michael Hicks

Professor of Economics

Ball State University

A number of recent studies examining the cost efficiency of Indiana’s school corporations report that corporations with fewer than roughly 2,000 students face very high overhead costs per student. This diverts significant money away from classroom instruction in more than half of Indiana’s school corporations. These small corporations enroll one in five students in Indiana. The inefficient use of tax dollars is no small matter.

Still, the effect on inefficient school corporations on student learning remained unknown until last week when my office published a study on the subject. That Ball State study, authored by Dagney Faulk, Srikant Devaraj and myself, paints a clear picture of the effect of inefficiently sized school corporations on student performance.

The study isolated the effect of school corporation size, not individual school size, on a number of performance measures from 2011-2014. First, there is some good news. Corporation size does not affect pass rates on elementary school ISTEP scores or the English End-of-Course Assessment (ECA), which is needed for graduation. Unfortunately, when it comes to more expensive educational experiences, especially college preparation and STEM programs, smaller corporations suffer badly.

Isolating the effective of corporation size, by controlling for demographics, local poverty and rurality, we found corporations with fewer than 2,000 students have SAT tests that average 20 points lower than kids from larger corporations. They also had pass rates on algebra and biology ECA tests that are more than 4 percent lower, and eighth-grade ISTEP pass rates are more than 5 percent lower than in bigger corporations. Students in small corporations pass the Advanced Placement (AP) tests at a 15-percent lower rate than peers in larger corporations. This is a stunning difference attributable solely to the overhead costs of running a small corporation

Separately, the study counted the number of AP course offerings. Here too, smaller corporations disadvantage students significantly by offering far fewer college preparatory courses, particularly in the critical STEM fields of math and science. The problem isn’t isolated. For example, one of the more affluent small school corporations (Barre-Reeve) has predictably high standardized test scores. Yet, their students pass AP tests at a rate that is well below the state average. This shockingly poor outcome is costly in terms of college admissions and extra tuition.

The response to this study has been largely positive. Most folks understand that course offerings are not as extensive in small school corporations, even if they didn’t realize how big the effects were. What surprised us most about the study were the number of folks who thought we were targeting small schools and local control. That’s baloney.

This study examined school corporations, not individual schools. This confusion is ironic because the most effective way to preserve small schools and small classrooms is to save money elsewhere. Consolidating wastefully small school corporations is a quick and painless way to direct more dollars into the classroom. Those folks who support small corporations aren’t defending small schools or local control. They are defending wasteful government and less effective education.

It is time for half of Indiana’s school corporations to seriously consider merging with their neighbors. In the end though, the facts of declining enrollment, rather than this study, will compel the issue. Nearly every one of Indiana’s small school corporations faces dwindling enrollment and 94 percent of these small school corporations are adjacent to another one of fewer than 2,000 students. Reality will compel a great many corporation mergers over the next decade.

The Greening Of The Wilderness

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Despite alternating Spring and Late Winter temperatures, the wilderness has gone from winter slumber brown to glorious green seemingly within a week.
Warm late March temperatures and additional hours of sunlight (no thanks to the alleged Daylight Savings Time) got dormant plants in the growing mood.
And it seems it is the weeds and invasive plants that are the ones getting a greening and growing leg up on everything else. Wild mustard, wild garlic, wild violets are blooming…as you can see, things can get wild in the wilderness.
The multi-flora roses and autumn olive are greening up as well. Both are invasion plants promoted at an earlier time by Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Early in the 20th century, Purdue University was recommending to farmers that they plant the prickly multiflora roses as living fencerows to contain cattle and hogs rather than build wire fences to contain their livestock.
It sounded like a sound idea, except Purdue forgot to confer with the multi-flora roses about the importance of growing just in the fencerow. They don’t stay put and in my wilderness case, seemingly enjoy growing right at the edge of where I mow so they can reach our and “caress” the lawn maintenance person.
And, as late as the 1990’s DNR sold wildlife habitat packs of seedlings from the Vallonia Nursery containing redbud, dog wood, and among others, autumn olive, renowned as a bird attractant.
And indeed, they are. Birds love to eat the olive size fruit, defecate seeds wherever they feel the urge and from 10 seeds sprout 15 new bushes.
It is a constant battle to prune, cut, and spray the invasives.
With the spring greening comes mole activity. I am tremendously pleased to report that Emma the Great Pyrenees has become a Great White Hunter. Prys are not known for their hunting ability and prey instinct. Emma just notices the ground moving and has learned that with two digs of her big front feet she gets a new live action squeak toy to play with. For the mole, death by Pyrenees play is not rapid. And perhaps I should feel badly for the mole, until I think of the mole runs and molehills that make mowing more difficult than it should be for me.
And then I cheer on Emma to go get another.
There is another greening in the wilderness. It has no briars, is pleasantly invasive and wonderfully tasty: the pot of spearmint moved from the basement is almost ready for some trimming for an April mint julep.

Tips Leads To 5 Arrested On Drug Charges

Last Wednesday morning, Aug. 26, Indiana State Police troopers investigated a complaint of drug activity taking place at 331 Muriel Drive in Scottsburg. According to ISP Sgt. Jerry Goodin, when troopers arrived at the residence they saw what was believed to be drug activity taking place inside of the home. After obtaining search warrants, troopers located controlled substances, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at the residence.

Troopers arrested five people out of the home on drug related charges and incarcerated them at the Scott County Jail.

Sandra Hardin, one of the arrested, was also charged with Disorderly Conduct after she allegedly defecated on herself and threatened to wipe it all over a trooper’s police car.

Arrested in the incident were:

  • Sandra Hardin, 66, 331 Muriel, charged with possession of methamphetamine, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, maintaining a common nuisance and disorderly conduct.
  • Anthony Fortner, 44, 331 Muriel Drive, possession of methamphetamine, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, maintaining a common nuisance.
  • Justin “Booger” Roberts, 37, 5305 North Water Tower Road, Austin, possession of methamphetamine, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, visiting a common nuisance.
  • Elisa Hanner, 36, 1254 Pearl Street, Austin, possession of methamphetamine, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, visiting a common nuisance.
  • Jason Schneck, 40, 3201 N. Bethlehem Road, Austin, possession of methamphetamine, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, visiting a common nuisance.

Goodin said the investigation is continuing.

40th Red, White & Blue Festival Set To Begin

The Crothersville Red White & Blue Festival kicks off Thursday, June 11, for a flag waiving salute to Old Glory and military service veterans. This year’s event is June 11-13 held at the Crothersville Community School grounds.

This is the 40th festival for the annual patriotic salute tagged as “Indiana Most Patriotic Festival,” said festival director Sherry Bridges. Our community takes pride in honoring our veterans and Old Glory. Terry Prine will be master of ceremonies throughout the three-day festival. Bobby Deal is entertainment chairman.

Tonight (Wednesday) is bracelet night at the festival carnival. Brady Amusements will offer a special ride promotion. Discount bracelets can be purchased at The Peoples Bank in Crothersville for $13 that will allow children to ride all rides all night.

Always a crowd draw, the Baby Contest registration will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, in the main gym at CHS. Judging begins at 3:30 p.m. Categories are, birth to three months, four to seven months, eight to 12 months, 13 to 24 months, 25 to 36 months and 37 to 48 months. First, second and third place will be awarded to a boy and a girl in each category. Entry fee is $5. The winners will be announced from the stage at 6 p.m.

Little Mr. & Little Miss Red White and Blue will be for boys and girls ages five to seven years old. Children must be dressed in patriotic colors and will be asked a few simple questions. Judging will be based on confidence, poise and stage presentation. Entry fee is $10. Registration begins at 2:30 p.m. in the auxiliary gym with judging at 3:30 p.m. Winners will be announced at 6:15 p.m. from the stage. Crothersville Elementary PTO is sponsoring both events.

Booths open at 5 p.m. and at 5:30 the crowning of the 40th RWB Prince and Princess will take center stage. CHS Yearbook staff and sponsor Zabrina Nicholson is organizing the contest. Last year’s RWB Prince and Princess Harper Adams and Zoe Spangler will crown the new prince and princess.

Opening ceremonies will take place at 6:30pm from the stage as the community pauses to salute our local veterans and honor, “Old Glory.”

The RWB Talent show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Master of Ceremonies will be Robert Becker from 96.3 WJAA. Registration is at 7 p.m. at the announcer’s booth. Following the talent show The Paul Boggs Band will close out the evening.

On Friday, June 12, booths open at 5 p.m. also at 5 p.m. Crothersville Youth League will hand out awards for the year. At 5:30 a demo from KO’s Martial Arts will be in front of the stage. At 6 p.m. Country Kickers will perform.

Grandview Junction featuring former resident Linda Miller Musselwhite, will perform at 6:30 p.m.

Starting at 7:30 p.m., Real Country Music Show featuring Ron Gaddis from Nashville, Tennessee. Ron was lead man and bass guitar player for country music legend George Jones for over 20 years. He also has played with “The Voice” Vern Godson. Performing along with Gaddis will be Sam Pate, Bobby Deal, Danny Lang and Dave Jackson.

The Festival starts early Saturday June 13 with the Crothersville FFA serving breakfast at 7:30 a.m.

Tipping off at 8 a.m. in the main gym is the Jimmy Stewart Memorial 3/3 basketball tourney. Rita Cook is organizing the event with the proceeds going to the Crothersville Junior High girls basketball team.

The CHS Class of 2016 will hold a 5K Run/Walk beginning in front of the main entrance of the school beginning at 8:30 a.m.

At 10 a.m. entries for the Pie and Cake contest can be submitted in the lobby entrance of the gym till 11am. Categories for the pies are fruit, cream, your specialty and cobblers. For the cakes, layer, sheet, decorated and your specialty. Judging will begin at 11:15 a.m. Winners will be announced from the stage at 5:30 p.m. with a raffle to follow. Sarah Gerth is in charge of this event and it’s open to everyone. She encourages everyone…even the men to show off their baking skills. Proceeds from the raffle will be donated to the Jackson County Nursing Home Veterans Cheer Baskets.

Fun for the kids starts at noon with the Pet & Bike Parade. Participants will line up in front of the stage. Children are encouraged to decorate their bike or bring their favorite pet.

Registration for the 40th RWB Parade begins at noon in the parking lot of Alliance Bible Church at the corner of Moore and East Street.

Taking the stage at 12:30 p.m. and entertaining throughout the afternoon will be Jerry Zollman.

The Photo contest will return this year with entries being accepted from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Judging begins at 1:30pm. Categories are nature, family, patriotic and life in Vernon Twp. Photos will be on display throughout the day in the photo booth located in front of the high school main entrance. Participants may pick up their photo that evening from 6 to 8 p.m. Winners will announced at 5:30 p.m. from the stage.

The 40th RWB Festival Parade steps off at 4 p.m., Grand Marshal is Doris Kovener of Crothersville. Doris is a charter member of the festival committee and helped organize every RWB festival since 1976.

To commemorate the 40th Festival the committee will celebrate with a 40-40-40. “We are asking for 40 Veterans to walk the last 40 feet of the parade in celebration of the 40th Festival,” said Bridges. “Understanding some veterans will need assistance, a family member is encouraged to walk with them.” Veterans may wear full dress uniform, their hat or patriotic attire. To sign up to walk veterans can call Doris Kovener at 812-793-2573.

Immediately following the parade the winners of the Photo contest and the Pie & Cake contest will be announced followed by the desserts being raffled off by auctioneer Terry Prine. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Jackson County Veterans Nursing Home Christmas Cheer Baskets. There will also be a box placed by the stage for donations. Items needed are lap blankets, toiletries, puzzle books, socks, Kleenex.

On stage at 7:30 p.m. is Country-Rock band Gun Fire.

Throughout the festival the Antique Farm Machinery Show will take place along Howard street. Kevin and Melanie Hoevener are once again organizing the event which promises to be one of the biggest displays in southern Indiana.

At 8:45 p.m. the drawings for various booth raffles will be announced from the stage. Winners will be able to take their prizes home.

There will be wholesome family centered fun for everyone as Zambelli Fireworks will provide a patriotic fireworks show. Robert Becker and Radio 96.3 WJAA will broadcast live starting at 9 p.m. on Saturday at Bard Street Park and will start the count down at 10 p.m. as Zambelli Fireworks lights up the Crothersville sky. Visitors are encouraged to come early with their lawn chairs or blanket, mark their spot and head to the festival grounds and enjoy the food and visit with family and friends. 3-D glasses will be available for $1 for extra enjoyment.

All information and applications for events are on the website, www.CrothersvilleRWB.com or like us on Facebook.

Handicap parking will be in the school Administration Building parking lot at the south end of Preston Street. Restrooms are located inside the gym entrance to the left.

The Festival committee recommends that you leave your pets at home, only service animals are allowed. Also, bicycles are not to be ridden on the festival grounds unless used in the parade.

The Crothersville Red White & Blue Festival Committee would like to thank our corporate sponsors, Aisin Drivetrain, Aisin Chemical, Cerro Wire, The Peoples Bank. Also, Bob Poynter GM, Rumpke, John Jones Auto Group and Radio 96.3 WJAA. Stewart-Hougland Funeral Home, Bryan Bowman Inc./Garlick Ford and Garth & Billie Kovener.

The festival committee encourages the community to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy the events of the festival and visit with family and friends.

Rabies Clinic At Fire Station Friday

There will be a rabies clinic this Friday, May 15, at the Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department from 6-7:30 p.m. This event is a part of the Jackson County rabies clinics to reach outlying areas of pet owners in the county. This local clinic is sponsored by the Crothersville FFA.

Vaccinations are $12 for dogs and cats.

Dr. Robert Gillespie will be administering the rabies vaccinations. He reminds pet owners bringing their animal to the clinic to have it on a secure leash.