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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

NORTH LAWRENCE COMMUNITY SCHOOL EDUCATION OF STUDENTS A STRUGGLE IN 2022

BEDFORD - JANUARY 14, 2023 - The graduation rate among the Bedford-North Lawrence High School students continue to decline over the last two years under the corporation's consolidation plan.


COVID Pandemic was challenging for the BNLHS Class of 2020 - However, graduation rates have declined over the last four years at BNLHS


In 2021, the school graduation rate of 86.42 percent has fallen to 85 percent in 2022. The school district graduation rate has decreased over the last five years.


Although John Storms assertion that lives are at stake during his concerns of videotaping a public-school board meeting; what is at stake is a child's education that has been wrapped up in a feud among taxpayers, parents and most of all students.

The new North Lawrence Community School Board faces many challenges ahead.


Taxpayers, parents, school officials, and many more will debate the need for consolidation, and what the complete consolidation of school facilities, teachers' pay, healthcare benefits, benefits, employee/corporation relationships and other issues that have dominated the school board meetings over the last four years.


North Lawrence Community Schools is the county's largest employer of over 800 employees.


The newest North Lawrence Community school board voted to buyout Dr. Ty Mungle contract and placed the Assistant Superintendent Dr. Chris Tanner on leave, last Thursday.



NLCS approved to hire interim Superintendent Dr. James Halik Ph.D. to guide school board members on to the hiring of the next superintendent.


Meanwhile while four years of debate continues, controversy, and personal feelings dominate the conversation.


However, what is the most troubling is the data surrounding the corporation.


Springville Elementary School were among the four elementary schools now closed.


The former North Lawrence Community School board voted in January 2020 to consolidate four elementary schools and one middle school.


The basis of that decision was made for various reasons promoted by former NLCS School Superintendent Dr. Ty Mungle and school board.


The concerns over a state takeover of the Indiana Department of Education due to years of more than 15 percent of Operations funds being spent by the corporation and using the education fund to fund it; graduation rates and bringing more opportunities to the students.


Dr. Kamal Girgis previous school board member maintains the consolidation of the school corporation was not about the money but offering more opportunities to the students.

However, during the candidate's forum Girgis maintains that the corporation needed to be ran like a business. The financial health of the corporation needed to be addressed.


The data would suggest the consolidation at this point has not helped the students or the financial position of the school corporation.


In a first glance at the data the North Lawrence Community School District has over 4,340 students, which is 50 percent bottom of public schools in Indiana.


  • North Lawrence Community Schools have a 38 percent math proficiency verses a 46 proficiency in Indiana public schools.


  • North Lawrence Community Schools have a score of 46 reading proficiency, versus the states 49 percent proficiency the state's average.


The school corporation ranks within the bottom 50 percent of all 364 school corporations across the state based off of these two factors of math and reading proficiency. The corporation ranks #260 out the 379 school districts.


Many parents have concerns over the school corporation failing to address Individual Education plans for their kids, and the elimination of Joint Services has made a large impact for special needs students. At this time the Lawrence County Zephyr has not been able to look into the data surrounding the special needs students due to time constraints, with this news feature.


In 2021, the school corporation is still spending more out of the operations funds, even though cutting over $2 million in the education fund in the 2022 budget cycle.


The consolidation was stopping the bleed of finances of the corporation which has not happened at this time. An Indiana State Board of Accounts audit that was performed in 2021 has not been made public by the SBOA.


TEACHER PAY


The education fund is what pays schoolteachers their salaries. The NLEA president Lacy Hawkins told school board members last Thursday that the termination of Dr. Ty Mungle will create problems for the union in contract negations for the schoolteachers.


However, in 2022, the NLEA and NLCS failed to reach a two-year contract, and only stipends over the previous three years of trying to negotiate better pay for corporation's schoolteachers.


The State of Indiana legislature has required minimum salary requirements of $40,000 for beginning teachers throughout the state, following the legislation presented in 2022.


Hawkins maintains that the teacher pay increased over $4,000 in the latest contract negations, during the consolidation process that was to improve teacher pay and benefits are still lacking over the last four years.


North Lawrence Community School teacher salaries are among the lowest in all the school corporations surrounding NLCS.


The problem of teacher pay does not rest with the state legislature, but rests with the NLCS School board and the NLEA. The NLEA has just not been able to pull over better pay and conditions for the NLCS teachers.


Dr. Ty Mungle also maintains despite the departure of the schoolteachers, there are still 20 schoolteachers more than needed within the corporation of its size.




NLCS REVENUES


Revenue from the state is $15,2023 per student which is higher than the $12,585 among the state's other school corporations and the revenue has grown over 8 percent over the last four years for NLCS.


But the school corporations spending is $12,922 is higher than the states median of $11,723. The spending of NLCS has grown over 8 percent over the last four years.


(Note: Data from PublicSchoolreview.com was used for this news feature. Niche has a 37 percent proficiency among NLCS students passing a math proficiency test. Infromation can also be obtained at niche.com.)


NLCS school corporation lost a total of 1,007 student since 2019 students from the K-12 grade levels. This comes following the hiring of Dr. Ty Mungle and consolidation.


The loss has had a financial impact on the students.


The newest school board must consider several things as their new term begins. The following questions need addressed sooner rather than later.


  • How is student performance and testing be factored into the future plans of the school corporation?

  • Are decisions by the school board be student based, financial bases, taxpayer based or public perception?

  • Should the consolidation continue? This will address the continue drain on the Operations Budget.

  • Should 20 more schoolteachers be removed through RIF, job attrition, or leaving job vacancies?

  • How will they be able to regain the 1,007 students lost?

  • How the quality of education, and evaluations among the schoolteachers be measured?

  • Is there to much administrative positions causing the Operations Fund to continue to drain the corporations' finances?

  • What is the strategic plan among board members to improve both the education health, and financial health of the corporation?

  • How will future school closures be handled?

  • Is the construction of a new middle school needed and what is the financial cost of doing so?

  • Will the construction of a new elementary school be needed for the City of Bedford Schools?

  • What is the vision of the new school board, and how will this be communicated to the public?

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