Valpo educators invite public to help re-evaluate
By Diane Kubiak Post-Tribune correspondent April 16, 2013 9:40PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 7:52PM
VALPARAISO — Superintendent Mike Berta thinks Valparaiso needs to address again the topic of school facilities. Having given a “State of Valparaiso Community Schools” report to the City Council, Berta invited residents to a May 6 public discussion on how to re-engage the topic abandoned during the economic crisis of 2008-09 and the subsequent change in central office administration.
Berta suggested first updating the 2009-10 Gibralter Report, which looked at the possibility of remodeling elementary schools to state minimum standards.
The quest for solving space problems was sidetracked that year due to the recession and the need to cut costs.
“Now the question is, “What do the facilities facilitate?”
Berta and the board have been discussing the 21st Century learner. He said it is clear children don’t learn in the same ways they used to, that teachers don’t teach in the same manner they used to and that facilities need to facilitate learning.
“We need to have those discussions again,” he said, urging the community to embrace what the professional educators are finding as they re-evaluate the system as part of their accreditation process with AdvancED Corp. He also urged them to listen to what architects and engineers with expertise in these matters are saying.
“We need to give our children the advantages they deserve,” board President Mark Maassel said.
Berta said VCS ranks 336th out of 360 school corporations in the state in the amount of state funding per pupil ($4,976), funding which accounts for 99 percent of the corporation’s general fund budget.
At the top is Aspire Charter with $7,993 per pupil; at the bottom, Indiana Virtual at $3,854 per pupil. Should Valparaiso be given the state average to work with — since they have 6,210 VCS students — they would have an extra $4,535,846 to work with.
Still, the school district, which accommodates all of Center Township in Porter County, excels in many areas as evidenced by Tuesday night’s celebration of successes:
The Jefferson Middle School Science Olympiad team took its 21st state championship.
Flint Lake and Central elementaries both scored in the top 10 in their divisions in Spell Bowl, with Central coming in as state runner-up.
The VHS girls gymnastic team was state runner-up and its seniors — Morgan Algozine, Emily Crosmer and Hannah Erwin — are the most decorated senior gymnasts ever in state history.
VHS senior John Sego was named Porter County Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year.
VHS senior Matt Mues was one of 15 students of 80,000 eligible students to be named Outstanding CTE student for his work at the Porter County Career Center and VHS.
The Science Olympiad team presented the board members with gold medals for their support of the program and their coach Rich Bender thanked the community and the dozens of parents, local engineers and scientists, teachers and team alumni who work one-on-one with the young scientists as both mentors and coaches.
In other business, the board gave the high school administration permission to implement the at-random drug testing of VHS students who participate in voluntary after-school programs and/or drive to school.
The board also approved new facility rental rates.