School Partnership Launch Encounters Glitches

A school partnership which was meant to provide students at Austin and Crothersville High Schools enhanced elective classes at a lower cost is having a sputtering start-up.

In April Superintendent Terry Goodin said that the two school systems had begun discussion on providing elective classes for Austin students at Crothersville and Crothersville students at Austin.

“Partnerships are the wave of the future. Business and industry develop partnerships to be innovative and save money,” the superintendent said this spring.

But change comes difficultly to small communities.

About 30 freshmen students at CHS had signed up for elective courses to be taken at Austin High School. However, as late as this past Friday, CHS Principal David Schill said no Austin student had signed up for classes at CHS.

“That could change as school gets underway,” said Schill. “We typically have some class changes after school begins.”

Both schools began the 2014-15 school year this week.

Classes offered to Austin students are primarily agriculture related; all classes not offered at the Scott County school such as Horticulture, Animal Science, Ag Business, as well as Biology II and Pre-Calculus.

Local students will be taking class blocks in either the morning or afternoon. Classes available to local students at Austin include World History, Civics, Art History, Intro to Business, and Spanish II.

Schill said there is some duplication of classes at each school but that was needed to fill a 3-class morning or afternoon block.

Schill said a bus would take about 15 students to AHS for classes in the morning then return them to Crothersville for afternoon classes here. The same arrangement would be made for afternoon classes at Austin.

The partnership experiment will not impact required core classes. Goodin emphasized that core curriculum classes, those required by the state would continue to be taught at each respective school. ISTEP testing would continue as in the past.

Where our partnership would be beneficial is by offering to our students a wider selection of elective classes, he said.

But some parents don’t like the idea and are concerned that the partnership would lead to school consolidation. Goodin addressed those concerns.

Crothersville and Austin already partner with Ivy Tech to offer classes that enable students from each school to graduate with a college associates degree.

In April Dale Schmelzle, Crothersville School Board president, applauded the success of that partnership.

“My daughter and Andy’s (Andrew Nehrt, another school board member) both graduated from Crothersville High School with associate degrees which were earned in part through classes at Austin High School,” Schmelzle said.

And Crothersville students have participated in the vocational classes offer in Bartholomew County through the C-4 Co-Op for several years.

“Partnerships can make for better education for our students,” the superintendent said. “If school partnerships are successful, they could have just the opposite effect of any consolidation,” said the superintendent. “Each school would be remain its own entity for the future.”