Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune
---- — Aug. 20 was “an exciting day in Batesville High School history,” points out principal Andy Allen. For the first time, 85 students began taking 122 dual enrollment classes at Ivy Tech Community College’s Batesville campus, he told Batesville Community School Corp. trustees the night before.
About 20 teens arrived at the large building around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to take a sociology class and some stayed on to study Spanish. That afternoon 30 more students wandered the Batesville campus looking for room numbers, according to Allen. Most came by private vehicles, but school buses are used if needed.
Likewise, nine showed up at Ivy Tech Wednesday morning and 20 that afternoon. Students who opted to take dual enrollment classes go either Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday for the twice-a-week classes.
“We made a very substantial investment in this property,” $1 million, pointed out superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts. “We’re starting to reap the benefits.”
As excited as the students must have been, parents had to be equally ecstatic. Their children are taking college courses – with zero tuition costs. This means just this semester parents collectively saved $109,800, 10 percent of that investment. Roberts did the math: 122 classes x 3 credit hours x $300 per credit hour = $109,800 (if those credit hours were taken at Indiana University-Bloomington).
Roberts added the above numbers do not include “the hundreds of students” taking dual credit (high school and college) classes at BHS. Allen calculated, “There are 1,034 opportunities (including Project Lead the Way and Purdue University animal sciences courses) for dual credit to be earned” by BHS students this year.
The trend is catching on. 2013 BHS graduates reported over 1,000 college-level classes on transcripts, he said.
BCSC President Chris Lowery asked the principal about a fresh internship program. Two components of the on-the-job training program make it unique, Allen explained. Four students are taking dual credit classes at the high school, plus dual enrollment courses at Ivy Tech, working toward associate degrees in engineering. “This is a two-year commitment,” he emphasized. Students will end up with 30 credit hours, six short of an associate degree. To complete the hours, the teens could take summer or night classes.
In addition, four local businesses – Virtus, Batesville Casket, Heartwood Manufacturing and Batesville Tool & Die – have offered three-hour twice-a-week internships. The participants will rotate businesses every eight weeks. “The idea is to give them a real world experience.” The program, organized by business teacher Cathy Martini, is specialized to fit participants’ interests. The superintendent reported, “We couldn’t do it” without the local businesses.
The schedule: Students attend BHS classes every morning, go to Ivy Tech Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and report to businesses Wednesday and Friday afternoons.
In the second year, students will be paid if companies and teens are mutually interested, which “will let the kids compete for the positions, and let the businesses compete for the kids,” according to Allen.
There were two reasons BCSC staffers ranging from Roberts and all principals to IT employees carpooled between eight to 10 hours to get to a July 23-25 conference at Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina. The corporation is “highly regarded in terms of its 1:1 implementation” (every child in grades 4-12 has a MacBook Air laptop) and Schol@stic Administrator magazine named it the best school district in America. “We would like to benchmark against those corporations,” said Roberts, especially since BCSC students in grades K-5 will receive their 1:1 (one computer for each child) devices during the 2014-15 school year.
About 300 educators from around the country, even Hawaii, flocked to the event to learn how to change a school’s culture. He admitted, “I wouldn’t mind us having the word BEST across a magazine” in the future.
The attendees listened to two experts, superintendent Dr. Mark Edwards, the American Association of School Administrators 2013 Superintendent of the Year; and Richard Culatta, U.S. Department of Education Office of Education Technology deputy director. He observed, “We definitely learned a lot from going … we also reinforced the things we have already done.” Roberts thanked Jackie Huber, BCSC IT curriculum director, for planning the trip. “We were blessed it was relatively close so we could take as many people as we did.”
A Schol@stic Administrator magazine article entitled “10 Lessons from the Best District in the Country” (bit.ly/14YIySv) drew local educators to the conference. The article began, “If they haven’t been tossed already, textbooks at Mooresville Graded School District sit unused, piled in corners of classrooms. Desks are no longer neatly arranged in rows, and students rarely sit quietly and listen to extended lectures.”
As students and teachers have morphed from traditional to virtual learning, “results of this transformation are off the charts,” the article stated. Graduation and college rates have increased, but not because of huge district spending. Here the Mooresville district sounds like BCSC: “Among the state’s 115 school districts, it ranks 100th in spending per student at $7,463.”
Trustee Dr. Steve Stein asked whether BCSC has followed up with college students to see how 1:1 has helped. Roberts noted, “Some people believe going electronic means downloading textbooks. Our hope is our staff finds ways to meet the standards” by using real time information, not books. “One thing technology does for this generation is bring relevance to the classroom.”
Trustee Ray Call read in the article that absenteeism and discipline problems at Mooresville schools declined. He wondered if there was any data to support progress in those areas here. According to Allen, “As we lessen our restrictions on cell phones,” letting youth use them in the hallways and at lunch, violations have decreased dramatically.
Trustee Wanita Linkel asked whether last year’s seniors who had personal laptops for one year were able to buy them to use after high school, an earlier idea before dollar estimates were fully analyzed. The superintendent said no. Those computers were given to the freshmen.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.