- Special Sections
BOURBON â€” There is nothing like a challenge to spur enthusiastic action. So it is with the Triton School Corporation, which must deal with the loss of $250,000 in revenue this school year. The corporation is down 46 student enrollments, which accounts for the loss in state revenue.
As a result, new Superintendent Donna Burroughs has formed a Strategic Planning Committee to recommend action on the budget shortfall as well as position the school system for success over the next five years.
â€śIt is typical for school corporations to do this every four to five years,â€ť she said. â€śIt jells mission, vision, goals, and values, and gets everyone on the same page,â€ť she said. This time, however, the planning effort will include recommending cuts to the 2012-13 budget, which she says are inevitable.
â€śThe advantage to a strategic plan,â€ť said Burroughs, â€śis that it is a guide to follow in allocating resources.â€ť Considerable money has been invested in upgrading the elementary and Jr./Sr. high buildings for modern technology usage. These improvements, and future expenses for technology, need to utilize funds for the right purpose,â€ť she indicated.
There is a â€śdouble-edged swordâ€ť at play in this planning effort, she pointed out. â€śWe need to 1. Move the school system into the 21st century and be competitive; and 2. Deal with expenses as finances become more limited,â€ť she explained. â€śIt is not that the Triton schools are weak.â€ť In fact, the Triton schools scored highest in the county in Algebra I and English 10 during the annual state course assessments.
Thus, the Strategic Planning Committee was formed of volunteers in various representative areas. The teachersâ€™ union was asked to nominate faculty members. Jack Carpenter, elementary PE teacher, Shawna Shively, fourth-grade teacher and president of the Triton Teachers Association, Ron Brown, high school PE teacher, Janet Jackson, science teacher at the Jr./Sr. High School, and Paul Walker, secondary business teacher, were included on the committee. The entire school board â€” Deb Shively, Amy Middaugh, Terrie Barnhart, Dick Trowbridge, and Jerilyn Andersâ€”are members as well. Representing the school administration are Mike Chobanov, Jr./Sr. High School principal, Jeremy Riffle, elementary principal, Bob Ross, secondary assistant principal, Christine Cook, director of curriculum and instruction, and Mason McIntyre, athletic director. Student Quentyn Carpenter is a member. The committee is rounded out with three community members/parents: Kevin Boyer, business owner, Rev. Stormy Scherer-Berry, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Bourbon, and Ed Scherer-Berry, community volunteer. Superintendent Burroughs is overseeing the process.
The committee has already met for an introductory meeting and a full-day retreat led by Dr. Stephen Benjamin, owner of Quality Consultants out of Bloomington. Benjamin uses the â€śquality schoolsâ€ť model based upon the Baldridge business model for improvement. In addition to specific initial directions being formulated, the committee adopted the following five areas to be addressed: high academic/extra-curricular achievement expectations, parent and community partnerships, highly-qualified teachers/administrators/staff, safe, healthy, orderly environment, and efficient, effective operations maximizing technology.
The consultant will return to Bourbon for a final all-day retreat on Nov. 7. At that time, the committee will review its initial work and make changes to its final recommendations. The corporationâ€™s administration and the school board will make final decisions based upon the committee input. Although this is a challenging time for Triton schools, the corporation plans to come away from this process in a strong position for future success.