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Our annual chat with Hendricks County’s public school superintendents

Our annual chat with Hendricks County’s public school superintendents

School has significantly changed in the last decade and continues do so with each passing semester. Our education system is struggling with finances and politics in an unprecedented fashion. What does your school superintendent think about some of these issues? Which programs or attributes does your school have that you are unaware of? What can you do as a parent to make school beneficial for your child?

The Hendricks County ICON asked the superintendents to answer these questions.

Brownsburg Community School Corporation

Dr. Jim Snapp

Years as a superintendent: 7

Brownsburg Community School Corporation: 2010-present

  1. 1) How does BCSC work with parents to further students’ education?

Brownsburg Schools communicates with parents in many ways to ensure a partnership in their student’s education.  From registration through graduation and beyond, parents and guardians are included in decisions that impact student learning.  Parent Support Groups at each school connect parents to many activities that enrich the lives of students.  Parent-teacher conferences, open houses, teacher and school communications and updates from PowerSchool (our student information system) are just some of the ways that parents and guardians can stay connected.

2)         For the upcoming school year, what does BCSC need most?

For the upcoming school year, Brownsburg Schools continues to need the support of our families and the community as our students are given the best chance to succeed.  The patience of the community is important as two large construction projects move forward – the addition of Lincoln Elementary, set to open in July 2018, and the renovation and expansion of Brownsburg High School, to be completed in 2020.  While both projects will be completed without an increase to the school tax rate, the patience of the parents, students, staff, and community is important as we adjust traffic flow, classroom usage, and other construction necessities.

3)         How do you measure success at the end of each school year?

Success is measured in many ways.  Sometimes it’s measured by the growth seen in an individual student over the course of the year.  Other times success can be seen in the pride in the faces of the graduates.  Teachers and students are often sad to say goodbye at the end of the school year.  This is also the sign of a successful year, a year where strong relationships are formed to help students grow and succeed.  The Indiana Department of Education has used ISTEP+ as another tool to measure success.  In May it was announced that all nine Brownsburg Schools have earned the highest designation given by the IDOE.  All nine schools are Four Star Schools in addition to earning an A from the IDOE.  In the last ranking from the IDOE, Brownsburg was the highest performing school corporation in the state on ISTEP+.

4)         What do you want the community to know about your schools?

Brownsburg Schools are successful because of the people.  Teachers and staff establish lasting relationships with students and families to help meet their needs in the classroom and beyond.


Mill Creek Community Schools

Jim Diagostino, Ed.S

Years as a superintendent: 5

Mill Creek Community Schools: 2012 – present

 1) How does MCCS work with parents to further students’ education?

Mill Creek Community School Corporation collaborates and engages with our parents in a myriad of ways to further their child’s education. We have numerous ways for our school corporation and parents to communicate and be engaged from parent networking night, school board meetings, community meetings, committees, PTOs, booster clubs, information on our website, social media, school messenger communications, student management communications, volunteering, phone calls, emails, and personal interactions. A child’s parents are the most influential people in his/her life. We expect our staff of professionals to reach out and engage with parents frequently to establish continual, two-way communication.

2) For the upcoming school year, what does MCCS need most?

Our most important need for the upcoming school year is an increase in our average daily membership (ADM) coupled with increased tuition support. In our wonderful rural setting in south west Hendricks County, we have experienced a decline in our school-aged population, housing opportunities for young families, and a near flat-line tuition support in the dollars follow-the-child era. We aim to provide outstanding educational opportunities for our students in academics, arts, and athletics with the BEST staff of professionals to assist in changing lives and providing opportunities for success. The entire staff at MCCSC is a positive professional community here to serve and grow our school community.

3) How do you measure success at the end of each school year?

Success at the end of the school year may be measured through several means. Data provides figures for us to measure the growth each student has achieved in several areas throughout the school year. We analyze our classroom, school, and district data to assess our strengths and needed areas of improvement. For example, the Cascade High School is an IDOE 2016 4 Star School and the Graduation Rate was 99% for the Class of 2017. Beyond the data, we measure success through customer satisfaction. A kind comment and praise from a student, parent, or community member demonstrates a tone of appreciation.

4) What do you want the community to know about your schools?

Mill Creek Community Schools has an Expectation of Excellence in our Attitudes, Actions, and Achievements. While we are pleased with our summative data, we aim for 100% in each and every category. We expect our graduates to be the best prepared for the next phase of their life, whether attending an institute of higher education, an apprenticeship, serving our country through one of the armed forces, or entering the workforce. We take much pride in preparing our students for their next step in life!


North West Hendricks County School Corporation

Michael Springer         

First-year superintendent

North West County School Corporation

 1) How does NWHCSC work with parents to further students’ education?

North West Hendricks School Corporation is fortunate to have strong support from its parents and community members. We view parents and each school’s “staffulty” as partners in the learning and development process of our students. We encourage parents to not only serve as volunteers within our schools but also to serve as key advisors within our strategic planning process.

2) For the upcoming school year, what does NWHCSC need most?

Each school within NWHSC represents a strong learning community with a supportive and encouraging environment. During the 2017-18 school year, NWHSC will be focused on revising our current vision and establishing a new three-year strategic plan. We are looking forward to the participation of community leaders, parents, and students within this process.

3) How do you measure success at the end of each school year?

Our success at NWHSC is measured by our ability to meet the needs of more students so that they engage at a deeper level and achieve at a higher level, more often. In other words, our ultimate goal is to maximize the day-to-day engagement and overall learning potential of each individual student by focusing on his or her specific interests, strengths, and needs. Throughout the year, we will be measuring and monitoring our effectiveness in meeting this goal on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.

4) What do you want the community to know about your schools?

The schools within NWHSC represent welcoming, positive, and student-centered learning environments that are committed to making sure that all students are strongly connected to and actively involved within their school community.


Danville Community School Corporation

Dr. Tracey R. Shafer

Years as a superintendent: 12

Huntington County Community School Corporation: 2005-2014

Danville Community School Corporation: 2015-Present

1)         How does DCSC work with parents to further students’ education?

As a district, we seek to listen to parent input and find actionable and flexible ways to use that to improve the student experience. Two great examples of this are our recent improvements in access to Advanced Placement courses for students and in High Ability programming. At Danville Community Schools, we seek to engage parents as partners in their children’s education and as customers of our school services. We enjoy a wonderful working relationship with our parents, many of whom volunteer in our classrooms on a daily basis. Parents are further engaged through our Parent-Teacher Organizations at the building level. At the district level, parents are the backbone of our Community Advisory Committee and offer valuable input into district programming and services.

2)         For the upcoming school year, what does DCSC need most?

As we prepare for the upcoming 2017-18 school year, our current greatest need is to continue to ensure that we have the highest quality teachers and classrooms that we can provide for our students. The number and availability of qualified teachers, particularly in certain secondary level fields of study, has fallen dramatically in the past five years. Continuing to provide quality and equity of the educational experience for children in an increasingly competitive market for teachers is a constant challenge. The largest challenge facing us currently is to have the financial resources to continue to attract quality teaching candidates to fill our remaining open positions.

3)         How do you measure success at the end of each school year?

We believe the core competencies that we want to deliver to our school community are excellence, customer service and continuous improvement.  Our success is measured throughout the year in addition to the end of the year. Constantly we monitor our progress in these areas through student and parent feedback. One goal set annually is to attain five percent or higher growth in our student academic metrics. We will look for this in our ISTEP scores, SAT/ACT and similar performance areas. However, most important to us is the feedback we get from our parents, students, staff and community members who rank us as high performing. We annually survey for this feedback and seek to attain scores of 90 percent or higher from our stakeholders who consider us a high performing district. This provides us the feedback we need to improve and is our best gauge of success.

4)         What do you want the community to know about your schools?

The Danville School community is a wonderful, supportive, educational community that values education and the advancement of our children. We would want our community to know that we provide a high-quality education at a very low cost. This past year’s growth in student test scores ranked Danville Schools as on one of the highest achieving in the state, while our funding levels per pupil ranked 115 out of 284 districts, or at the 60 percent level for 2016. Danville Schools was also honored by the College Board by being named to the College Board Honor Roll for being a state and national leader in increasing Advance Placement (AP) opportunities for students while also increasing student performance in these areas. We are striving for excellence in educational attainment and customer service. We are improvement oriented and looking to grow. Danville Schools is an open enrollment school district and those interested in joining us to make a difference in children’s lives need only to give us a call or visit our website at Danville.k12.in.us.


Avon Community School Corporation

Dr. Margaret Hoernemann

Years as a superintendent: 5

Avon Community School Corporation: 2012-present

1) How does ACSC work with parents to further students’ education? 

The Avon Community School Corporation works with parents in many of the typical ways. We welcome parent involvement via PTO groups, Booster groups and advisory committees.  Additionally, we have a group called Oriole Advocates whose mission it is to Learn, Communicate and Advocate. This three-year-old group has become well informed about all aspects of education funding and policy and works locally and in the state to educate others and advocate for our school system. Additionally, because we are teaching more than skills for standardized tests (such as conceptual math, critical thinking and collaboration), we work with parents on how 21st Century education is radically different than what we experienced. We are preparing our students for their future.

2) For the upcoming school year, what does ACSC need most? 

For the last several years, we have had to been focused on financial challenges. No Hendricks County school system or taxing entity has been hit as hard by tax caps. By the end of 2017, the impact will be $54 million dollars uncollected and unable to be used for Capital Projects, Bus Replacement, Debt, etc. Additionally, our funding from the State has not kept pace with inflation.  The recent budget session resulted in a meager 1.2% increase for ACSC with inflation at 2.1% in 2016. As such, we need the continued cooperation of our employees to be ruthlessly efficient. We need our community’s support.

3) How do you measure success at the end of each school year?

We can’t wait until the end of the year to measure success. There are many metrics we use. Standardized test scores are one measure of student’s proficiency but we believe ISTEP is flawed and limited in what it measures. Thus, we use NWEA to measure individual student growth. We also monitor other important quality indicators: college readiness as partially defined by participation and proficiency on Advanced Placement courses/exams, dual credits earned (for high school and college),  industry certifications earned in our Career and Technical Education Program at Area 31, student involvement beyond the school day, success in music and the arts, involvement in the community. Think of who you want your children to become: not great test takers, great thinkers and great people. Now you know what ACSC measures and values.

4) What do you want the community to know about your schools?

We call it The Avon Experience. With a focus on the whole child (Healthy, Safe, Engaged, Supported, Challenged) we are making a radical transformation in how we teach. We welcome visitors to our schools/classrooms to witness how differently a 21st Century classroom operates than what we all experienced. Edge-of-their-seat learning experiences, joy filled classrooms and a culture that values all and cherishes our differences, are hallmarks of The Avon Experience.


Plainfield Community School Corporation

Scott Olinger

Years as a superintendent: 10

Plainfield Community School Corporation: 2007-present

  1. 1) How does PCSC work with parents to further students’ education?

Ensuring that parents have the information they need to be our partners in education is a top priority. We hold parent meetings, distribute both mailed and emailed newsletters, maintain an active web and social media presence, and meet with officers of our parent organizations throughout the year.  We appreciate the tremendous support that our parents provide via PTOs and booster clubs. Not only do they raise funds for activities outside the realm of what schools can provide, their time and passion for our students and teachers is a big part of the success our students have earned through the years.

2) For the upcoming school year, what does PCSC need most?

We have made great progress with our high school 1:1 technology program, and the focus has now shifted to increasing our technology presence in every classroom.  Growth in the community is something we always watch closely as we work to manage classroom space. The Imagination Lab has begun to look more like a learning space and less like a natatorium, and we are working daily to prepare for its opening next August. We’ll also begin taking a closer look at mid-level grades, ensuring that we are prepared for future needs.

3) How do you measure success at the end of each school year?

Rankings and test scores will probably always be an important measuring stick, and we certainly focus on those items. But we believe, just as teachers must differentiate their approach to the needs of every student, success is measured differently for every child. It’s important that we provide opportunities for every student. Our curriculum, extra-curricular and co-curricular options and an incredibly devoted faculty help us ensure that students have every opportunity to succeed.

4) What do you want the community to know about your schools?

We are incredibly proud of our students and staff and the many successes they’ve earned. But we don’t rest on our laurels; we are always looking for ways to improve, to innovate, and to ensure that we are reaching every student. Preparing students to be successful adults is our focus. Each December, we invite recent graduates, representing many interests and pursuits, to meet with our administrators and school board, and we ask them to share ways we can better prepare the next group of students. It’s an incredibly important conversation that has opened our eyes to new possibilities.

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