“The rumors of Crothersville Schools consolidating with Austin are untrue. In fact, they are a lie,” Crothersville Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Goodin told the near capacity crowd at last week’s school board meeting.
He said the rumors began, apparently, following a faculty meeting where school employees were told of a partnership plan being negotiated to allow Austin and Crothersville students to take elective classes offered at each school.
“It is unfortunate that this information got out into the community before any firm agreement has been reached because everything is still being negotiated. The partnering might not even occur,” he said adding that the local school board members were aware of his negotiations.
Goodin later explained that over the past four years the local school corporation has lost over a million dollars due to funding cuts by the state legislature.
“Partnerships are the wave of the future. Business and industry develop partnerships to be innovative and save money,” said the superintendent. “That is what our negotiations with Austin hope to accomplish.”
“In fact,” he continued, “if they are successful, they could have just the opposite effect of any consolidation. Each school would be remain its own entity for the future.”
“Because of our size maybe only 4-5 students might be interested in a class. We cannot afford to teach a class with that small of an interest,” he said. “But if other students from Austin are also interested in the same class, then perhaps it is affordable. And that benefits both our schools’ students.”
The superintendent said that the talks with Scott County School District 1 officials remain ongoing as they work out scheduling blocks of classes available for students at each school as well as determine student interest.
He 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 proposed partnership would be beneficial is by offering to our students a wider selection of elective classes.
Crothersville student could benefit from the business and business math classes, computer graphics classes, and French language classes at Austin.
Austin students interested in agriculture, horticulture, and earth and space sciences could take those classes at Crothersville.
“It will be a win-win for students and both schools,” said Goodin.
He said just what classes would be offered would be dependent of student interest. “We’re beginning to schedule classes now and should know of student interest in 2-3 weeks. Then the respective schools will see if the scheduling of classes can be worked out,” he said.
If successful, elective classes would be offered in a block so that transportation to the respective schools could be developed for morning and afternoon blocks of classes.
“We won’t be running a taxi service every period,” he added.
And he said students will not be forced to take electives at Austin. “But if they want to take French, then they will have to take that class and others in the scheduled block at Austin,” said Goodin. “The same for Austin students wanting to take agriculture or space science.”
He noted that Crothersville and Austin already partner with Ivy Tech to offer classes that enable students from each school to graduate with a college associates degree.
Dale Schmelzle, Crothersville School Board president, acknowledged to the crowd of the success of that partnership.
“My daughter and Andy’s (Andrew Nehrt, another school board member) both graduated from Crothersville High School with associates degrees which were earned in part through classes at Austin High School,” Schmelzle told the crowd.
And Crothersville students have participated in the vocational classes offer in Bartholomew County through the C-4 Co-Op for several years.
“Partnerships make for better education for our students,” the superintendent said.
Goodin declined to point a finger or lay blame at who spoke prematurely but social media apparently played a part in spreading the school consolidation rumor. And the timing of the county daily newspaper’s story on school consolidation helped to fan the flames of the rumor mill, he said.
Goodin acknowledged that the local conspiracy theorists have been busy because he is superintendent at Crothersville and his father, Berley Goodin, is superintendent at Scott County District 1 at Austin.
“One of my main jobs as superintendent at Crothersville is to ensure its success and its future,” said Goodin. “This partnership will benefit students and save the school corporation money. My number one priority is to keep Crothersville Community Schools open.”