BOURBON — 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.
“It is typical for school corporations to do this every four to five years,” she said. “It jells mission, vision, goals, and values, and gets everyone on the same page,” she said. This time, however, the planning effort will include recommending cuts to the 2012-13 budget, which she says are inevitable.
“The advantage to a strategic plan,” said Burroughs, “is that it is a guide to follow in allocating resources.” 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,” she indicated.
There is a “double-edged sword” at play in this planning effort, she pointed out. “We need to 1. Move the school system into the 21st century and be competitive; and 2. Deal with expenses as finances become more limited,” she explained. “It is not that the Triton schools are weak.” 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 teachers’ 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 — Deb Shively, Amy Middaugh, Terrie Barnhart, Dick Trowbridge, and Jerilyn Anders—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 “quality schools” 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 corporation’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.