11/01/12 The Indiana Department of Education (DOE) officially released the grades of schools all over Indiana on October 31; however, preliminary grades were sent to superintendents several weeks ago. The public announcement followed the State Board of Education’s approval on October 30. Schools had the right to appeal the preliminary grades. On October 30, those schools appealing were sent an email with the final status grades. All appeals findings were declared final.

The A through F grading system is a part of the Public Law 221. Grades were based on data submitted by the schools including, but not limited to, graduation rates and standardized tests scores.

The Union North United School Corporation has been graded as a “C” school by the Indiana Department of Education (DOE). The corporation grade is an average between the “A” grade achieved by LaVille Elementary and the “D” rating for LaVille Jr.-Sr. High School. The elementary school received the top grade last year as well. LaVille Jr.-Sr. High School was ranked as a “D” school last year.

Superintendent Mitch Mawhorter believes the targeted improvement measures they are implementing will result in raising the “D” next year.

There have been a number of changes in the corporation’s staffing this year. Mawhorter was named superintendent in January of this year. Former LaVille Jr.-Sr. High School principal, Chuck Phillips, was appointed to a newly formed position of Director of Operations, overseeing maintenance and transportation. Principal Jeremy Tucker was hired to start the 2012-2013 school year.

Mawhorter said they are following the lead of the state by implementing the RISE system He said, “The eight-step process has allowed is to dig out of the hole.” He said they are working on strengthening the Core-40 aspects of the programs as well.

Mawhorter praised staff member Shawn Hill who has stepped up as a curriculum coach at both schools and is presenting information every morning to the teachers for professional development. The former English teacher is also teaching German part-time. Mawhorter said Hill and the school principals are working non-stop to make classes more relevant to students. Mawhorter said, “We have very strong principals at both schools.”

Mawhorter said the school board recently approved a bond of $1.5 million to complete several small and large projects. Earlier this school year, mold was uncovered in a tunnel area of the LaVille Jr.-Sr. High School. No students use the area, but it is an area of concern. Other projects include replacement carpeting in some parts of the elementary building, roofing projects, parking and pavement repairs, and improvements to the gym floor.

Superintendent Mawhorter said the enrollment is down this year by 30 students. He said, “We got quite a few new ones and lost just as many.” He said he hopes to market the school corporation more widely in the future as improvements are made. He said, “We feel we have a very safe environment for all of our students. We have camera’s monitored non-stop.” He said the staff is checking computers regularly since they initiated the one-one technology.

Carol Anders Correspondent