Indiana Chamber Study: Merging Small School Districts Could Improve Test Scores

Hoosier school districts with fewer than 2,000 students should consider merging with another small district to reap better test scores, according to a study released last Tuesday.

“Students in small school corporations in Indiana, which comprise 20 percent of total statewide enrollment, are academically disadvantaged,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Consolidation of districts could reduce administrative costs and improve SAT scores, Advanced Placement passing rates, eighth-grade ISTEP scores and passing rates for end-of-course assessments in algebra and biology, the study found.

“Smaller schools have meaningfully worse outcomes in standardized tests and the college preparatory elements — the SAT, the ACT and the AP pass-rate — particularly in mathematics and sciences than do larger schools,” said Michael Hicks, director of the Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research.

The study, commissioned by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation, was conducted by Ball State’s CBER.

In 2014, 154 of Indiana’s 289 schools corporations had enrollments of fewer than 2,000 students. Of the smaller school corporations, 94 percent were contiguous with another small district.

The enrollment figure of 2,000 was chosen for the study because it has been identified in previous studies as the minimum number for efficiency.

Small districts that increase their enrollment to around 2,000 could experience an increase in the average student’s performance on SAT of 20.5 points and a 14.9 percent increase in students passing AP exams.

A district merger could also yield a 5 percent point increase in eighth-grade ISTEP pass rate and an additional 4 percentage point increased in end-of-course assessments in algebra and biology.

The size of a district, however, did not impact the passing rate for fourth-grade ISTEP or 10th-grade end-of-course assessments in English, Hicks said.

A district with more than 50,000 students, however, becomes problematic, Hicks said. Indiana’s largest districts include Indianapolis Public Schools at 30,000 students, South Bend Community Schools at 19,300 and Vigo County Schools at 15,400. The smallest districts include Union School Corporation in Randolph County at about 336 and Medora Community Schools in Jackson County at 205.

Enrollment declines have been seen in numerous districts, knocking some like Decatur County Community Schools and Brown County Schools closer to the 2,000-student mark.

Enrollment declines are due primarily to population shifts to urban centers and the loss of manufacturing jobs among other factors, Hicks said.

In Indiana, 85 school districts had enrollment declines of 100 or more from 2006 to 2014, the study found.

“They’re not going to grow their way out of this problem. It’s only going to get worse,” Brinegar said.

Brinegar applauded action by the recent Indiana General Assembly that provided consolidating school districts with a one-time incentive of $250 per student. The grant can go towards the professional fees associated with the consolidation or for teacher stipends.

Crothersville Superintendent Disagrees With Chamber Report

However, Crothersville Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Goodin doesn’t share the view that larger schools produce better students. “The push against small schools is now mainstream as statewide there is movement toward consolidation of small schools with larger ones,” said Goodin, who is also a State Representative.

The state Chamber of Commerce believes businesses must be innovative to remain viable, he said.

“Here at Crothersville we are following the Chamber of Commerce’s lead in our business of educating our students by being innovative,” said the local school leader.

He points out that Crothersville has some advantages that some of the state’s other small schools do not.

“Crothersville is ahead of the curve on an important educational argument,” he said. “Our partnerships with Ivy Tech, Austin High School and Southwestern High School provides us the best of both worlds: access to more academic programs in a small school setting.”

As long as we can continue to be innovative there should be no word or need to consolidate, Goodin said.


Scott L. Miley, CNHI Statehouse Bureau, contributed to this story.


Crothersville School Salaries, Wages Paid

The following salaries and wages were paid to certified, administrative, support staff, extra-curricular and hourly personnel at Crothersville Community Schools for the 2016-2017 school year.
Other school spending and income can be found in the corporation’s annual financial report found on page 3 of the print edition of the Times and the Public Notice section of the on-line edition.

Terry Goodin, $132,435; Andrew Markel, $71,631; Chris Marshall, $91,687; David Schill, $99,011.

Certified Instructional
Linda Begley, $66.008; Carl Bowman, $67,652; Ryan Canada, $47,260; Tim Crane, $49,341; Madeleine DiBlasi, $34,159; Kara Hunt, $41,823; Cassondra Kelly, $43,624; Kristina Kilgore, $56,279; Karra Lucas, $34,159; Sharon Markel, $45,825; Rhonda McCammon, $38,220; Rachel Neal, $42,521; Cheryl Nehrt, $43,636; Matthew Otte, $35,930; Delcie Pace, $35,218; Amie Peacock, $52,387; Aimee Rigsby, $37,505; Tammy Robbins, $37,505; Adam Robinson, $46,138; Lamonie Sanders, $52,909; Kourtney Settle, $32,091; Andrew Smith, $39,976; Ashley Spicer, $40,365; Holly Sweany, $60,921; Amanda Wilp, $34,865; Kyle Wilp, $ 40, 019; Jeanette Yoder, $38,918.

Daryl Elliott, $46,158.00

Office Staff
Ginger Fisher, $17,764.49; Sara Hillenburg, $29,456.46; Angie Keasler, $23,932; Annette King, 30,083.27; Terry Richey. $42,438.

Judy Brown, $10.50; Rena Clem, $13.40; Marsha Collman, $9.50; Amie Cottingham. $12.25; Sandy Cottingham, $13.40; Julia Doyle, $13.88; Terri Eldridge, $12.25; Sherry Harris, $13.40; Connie Hoskins, $12.45; Mary Jo Isenhower, $11.40; Greg Kilgore, $11.00; Eunice Lacey, $16.23; Sandy Law, $14.50, Deanna Lucas, $9.50; Megan Lucas, $10.50; Robin Nehrt, $11.00; Christie Schill, $9.50; Jean Stark, $16.23; Renita Waldon, $12.90.

Non-Certified Extra Curricular
Greg Kilgore, $16,203; Bobby Riley, $2,485.50; Kelly Spicer, $1,358.25; Eric Hilton, 614.25; John Riley, $1,196.25; Kevin Hensley, $5,295.75; Chris Mains, $2,485.50; James Caudill, $1,358.25; Todd Adair, $1,358.25; Lea Ann Boicourt, $388.50, Erika Land, $388.50; Lori Reynolds, $1,309.50; Jared Richey, $2,485.50; Dustin Lewis, $999.75; Brian Huey, $2,485.50; Robert Davidson, $999.75; Marc Bowman, $999.75; Angie Keasler, $1,959; Amber Jones, $711.75; Mary Jo Isenhower, $710; Valerie Mains, $1,032.75; Kistian Reynolds, $1,032.75; Georgianna Elliott, $1,194.75; Becky Sawyer, $532.50; Kathie Rose, $532.50; Brandy Henry, $532.50; Josie Spangler, $532.50; Missy Clouse; $159.75; Sabrina Hall, $532.50

Crothersville Library Closed For Maintenance Issues

In a brief new release issued Friday afternoon, Jackson County Library Director Julia Aker said that the “due to maintenance issues, the Jackson County Public Library is closed until further notice in Crothersville.”
No further details were made available.
Aker said local library customers may use the Seymour or Medora libraries during the closure until the maintenance issues are resolved.

Hiding In Plain Site

by Curt Kovener

Have you checked how much any of your units of local government want to spend next year? It’s right there for you to see on a web site, you know.
In 2014, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a law passed by the Indiana legislature that eliminated newspaper notice of local government budgets. Before the law was enacted, all local government units in Indiana— from cities & towns and counties to libraries and fire districts districts— were required to publish their annual budget proposals and estimated tax rates in a local newspaper.
Now they are only required to post them on the website of the state’s Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF), which was the main proponent of the new law.
Each year since the new law passed, the Hoosier State Press Association (HSPA) has asked the agency for traffic data for the Budget Notices for Local Government page on its website. To its credit, DLGF voluntarily provided the following numbers:
Last half of 2014– 4,600 unique visitors
Last half of 2015– 5,500 unique visitors
Last half of 2016– 7,000 unique visitors
In case you’re wondering, those aren’t daily or weekly or monthly traffic figures. Those numbers reflect the TOTAL visits to the page for each entire six-month period.
For comparison, for the first three months of 2017 this newspaper’s website that you are reading right now, where we place all pubic notice ads found in print had 4,745 unique visitors, according to statistics found on our Google Analytics page. A six-month extrapolation would have your “best little newspaper in town” approaching 10,000 visitors.
And as puny as the DLGF’s public notice visits are they actually overstate the number of Indiana citizens who now receive notice of their government’s proposed budgets.
First, like most websites a significant portion of DLGF’s website traffic is generated by Google search referrals from people who live outside of the state. So the unique visitor totals provided by DLGF are inflated by the incidence of non-residents who visit the page. And of course, public notice laws aren’t designed for the benefit of non-residents.
Second, DLGF directs local public officials to check its website every year to make sure their budgets are posted, according to HSPA Executive Director Steve Key. Since Indiana has 2,000+ local government units, it also suggests that much of the non-foreign traffic to DLGF’s budget page may very well come from government officials.
One is left to wonder: Has anyone in Indiana who doesn’t work for the government or media read any of the proposed budgets submitted by local government units since the new law took effect in 2014? Have you?
Meanwhile, consider that HSPA’s American Opinion Research study in 2014 found that 3.8 million Hoosiers read at least one newspaper per week. It’s also worth noting that budget notices are almost impossible to miss when they’re published in a newspaper. At a minimum, they generally occupy several columns on a page and contain bold text and lines of numbers that jump out at the average reader.
So when Mike Pence signed the law eliminating newspaper notice of proposed budgets, the state of Indiana traded a medium that by its very nature promotes effective notice for one that does not. And it swapped 3.8 million potential readers for, at best, a handful of highly motivated citizens. If you wanted to wrest control of local tax and budget processes from regular citizens in order to hand it to politicians, lobbyists and activists, this would be a great way to start.
This isn’t the way public notice is supposed to work.
(Our thanks to Richard Karpel of the Public Notice Resource Center for the research for this column.)

Public Notices


School Annual Report


Cap. Proj. & Bus Repl.


Notice is hereby given to the taxpayers of Jackson County, Indiana, that the proper legal officer of Jackson County at their regular meeting place at Jackson County Courthouse Annex, at 8:00 a.m. on the 16th day of August, 2017, will consider the following appropriations in excess of the budget for the current year.

Rainy Day Fund
Other Services & Charges                                                    75,000
Total Rainy Day Fund                                                             75,000
Community Corrections Project Income Fund
Personal Services                                                              511,100
Supplies                                                                              18,200
Other Services & Charges                                                  180,200
Capital Outlays                                                                     55,000
Total Community Corrections Project Income Fund              764,500
Community Transition Program Fund
Supplies                                                                                 3,170
Other Services & Charges                                                    18,700
Capital Outlays                                                                       7,130
Total Community Transition Program Fund                              29,000
Community Corrections Grant Fund
Personal Services                                                              355,664
Supplies                                                                              49,500
Other Services & Charges                                                 200,800
Total Community Corrections Grant Fund                            605,964
Problem Solving Court-Comm. Corr. Fund
Other Services & Charges                                                    9,500
Total Problem Solving Court-Comm. Corr. Fund                     9,500

Taxpayers appearing at the meeting shall have a right to be heard. The additional appropriations as finally made will be referred to the Department of local Government Finance (DLGF). The DLGF will make a written determination as to the sufficiency of funds to support the appropriations made within fifteen (15) days of receipt of a Certified Copy of the action taken.
Dated: August 2, 2017
Kathy S. Hohenstreiter
Fiscal Officer
8/2 hspaxlp

CAUSE NO. 36C01-1706-EU-51
In the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Indiana.
Pursuant to I.C. 29-1-7-7, notice is hereby given that Donna M. Moore was on the 28th day of June, 2017, appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of John R. Moore, deceased, who died testate on February 6, 2017.
All persons having claims against this estate, whether or not now due, must file the claim in the Office of the Clerk of this court within three (3) months from the date of first publication of this notice, or within nine (9) months after the decedent’s death, whichever is earlier, or the claims will be forever barred.
Dated at Seymour, Indiana, this 29th day of June, 2017.
/s/Amanda Lowery
Amanda Lowery
Clerk of the Circuit Court of
Jackson County, Indiana
Attorney for Estate:
Jeffrey J. Lorenzo
218 West Second Street
Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 524-9000
8/2, 8/9 hspaxlp

CAUSE NO. 36C01-1706-EU-58
In the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Indiana.
Pursuant to I.C. 29-1-7-7, notice is hereby given that Thomas R. Snyder was on the 17th day of July, 2017, appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of Helen A. Snyder, deceased, who died testate on June 17, 2017.
All persons having claims against this estate, whether or not now due, must file the claim in the office of the clerk of this court within three (3) months from the date of first publication of this notice, or within nine (9) months after the decedent’s death, whichever is earlier, or the claims will be forever barred.
Dated at Brownstown, Indiana, this 18th day of July, 2017.
/s/Amanda Lowery

Amanda L. Lowery,
Clerk of the Circuit Court of
Jackson County, Indiana
Attorney for Estate:
Jeffrey J. Lorenzo
Lorenzo & Bevers
218 West Second Street
Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 524-9000
8/2, 8/9 hspaxlp