LOCAL NEWS

North concerned about funding

A resolution asking for additional funding from state legislators was approved Monday by the North Montgomery School Corporation Board of Directors. 

The school district is joining other rural school corporations statewide that do not like the way education funds are being distributed. Small school administrators believe the present formula is hurting rural communities as they see enrollments decrease. The state calculates funding for school corporations on student counts.

Less funds with increasing demands on schools to remain competitive have strained rural school districts. From services offered to the hiring process, rural schools are experiencing problems that have not been common before now.

All three county school corporations have expressed a concern about less teachers available for hire. North Montgomery Superintendent Dr. Colleen Moran has gone on record stating the past summer was made difficult due to the lack of applicants. Educators point out that due to the perceived notion that state legislators are not interested in funding local public schools and instead diverting more money to private school and for-profit charter schools, students in rural areas are being neglected. It is difficult for rural schools to offer competitive salaries for teachers and new and additional programs as compared to large public schools and private schools.

Moran issued a letter explaining the need for the resolution.

“Throughout the state, small and rural school corporations are struggling to receive sufficient funding for educational programs and services that children in our communities need and deserve,” Moran said. “Currently, the funding formula designed money to follow the child works well for larger, growing districts. Rural communities throughout the state and nation are not producing and influx of enrollment in the schools located within those communities.”

“Lack of necessary funding coupled with a statewide teacher shortage is proving to have a devastating impact on our small and rural schools,” Moran said.

Moran hopes the resolution passed statewide will help state legislators understand what she perceives as a problem created by the legislators. She said a change in the funding formula is needed.

“There must be a means of equalizing the quality of educational programming throughout our state to that all children, regardless of their address have access to the same high quality educational programming ans services,” Moran said. “We seek the support of the legislators we elect to provide the needed financial resources to Indiana’s small and rural school corporations.”

Moran said there is a need for supplemental funding through flat-grants to small and rural schools. 

The resolution is up for adoption by rural school districts statewide. Sixty-one percent of Indiana School Corporations are included in the rural category including Crawfordsville, South Montgomery, Southeast Fountain County, North Putnam, Western Boone and Parke County. All of the local rural school districts have had recent enrollment decreases thereby are working with less funding from the state.

North Montgomery will now send copies of the resolution to state legislators in hopes of having the funding formula changed in the upcoming legislative session which will be considering the state’s biannual budget.

Making Change

Students around Montgomery County are changing the world around them one coin at a time.

Each school in each of the three corporations is in the middle of “Coin Wars,” a fundraiser to benefit the Montgomery County chapter of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Many South Montgomery students and staff, still have vivid memories of long-time teacher Amber Sparks, who lost her battle with breast cancer just two years ago. Last year, the South Montgomery Community School Corporation alone raised more than $4,000 for breast cancer research and won the competition. 

“It is personal at Southmont,” SHS Principal Mike Tricker said. “Our students responded with great charity in giving and raising money. This allows our students to donate to a cause because it affects people they know and care about.”

The competition raised more than $8,600 last year. This year’s totals will not be known until the end of this week, but principals say they’re already proud of the involvement and efforts from students during this year’s fundraiser. 

“Coin Wars gives our students and school a chance to reach beyond our doors to help others and also to connect to the community,” SJHS Principal Anna Roth said. “Knowing you can make a difference is empowering for students and is an important lesson to learn beyond the classroom.”

The competition looks different in each school building.

In some schools, the competition is based on which first period class collects the most money.

In other buildings, the competition is by grade level.

And in some elementary schools, each classroom teacher has his or her own bucket. Coins that are added to the bucket are added together and count as positive points. However, if a staff member or student puts any dollar bills or checks in another teacher’s bucket, that will deduct from that classroom’s total points.

There are also incentives in each building, as well. Homecoming honors have been given out, a breakfast will be provided and, at Walnut Elementary, someone will end up getting slimed.

“We are very pleased with our student response to such a noble cause and can not wait until the last coin hits the jar to find out who our winner is,” said Walnut Principal Eric Brewer.

And though the students are having a lot of fun along the way with this year’s Coin Wars, their change is truly making a change.

“It’s just very overwhelming,” said Karen Monts of Making Strides. “Whether that’s the American Cancer Society or something else they’re passionate about, it’s so good to teach kids that we each are a small part of something that is bigger than us. There are so many causes that are bigger than who we are. But when we all work together, we can become as big as all of the problems we’re facing.”

U.S. 231 is safer during harvest

After Monday’s Montgomery County Commissioners meeting, highway director Rod Jenkins shared good news. The project to make the intersection of C.R. 1100N at U.S. 231 a safer location during harvest is under way.

Jenkins said laying asphalt on C.R. 800N began last week. The road is being upgraded and designated a truck route to better handle semi-trailers and heavy truck traveling from the south to the Cargill grain elevator located on C.R. 1100N. 

In a previous commissioners’ meeting, Montgomery County Sheriff Mark Casteel reported the intersection just north of Linden is dangerous during harvest. Trucks loaded with grain are forced to line up along the U.S. 231N

causing congestion.

“It really is not a safe condition on U.S. 231 when trucks are lining up along the highway to get into Cargill,” Casteel said. “We need to re-route traffic to have trucks coming in from the west on 1100N.”

Commissioner Phil Bane and Jenkins worked on the truck traffic plan. It was decided to have trucks use C.R. 800N and then travel north on C.R. 100W. The plan required an upgrade to C.R. 800N.

The project, which cost approximately $132,078, is one of several projects that will be funded by the newly acquired 50/50 grant money from the state.

Jenkins said C.R. 100W will need some work too, including adding more gravel on the section between C.R. 1000N and C.R. 1100N. 

The roads in the area will be posted notifying truck drivers to use 800N to get to Cargill.

During the meeting, for a second time, commissioners tabled an amendment to its weapons policy for the courthouse. 

Commissioners voted 2-1 to re-appoint Dave Rhoads to the Montgomery County Drainage Board. Commissioner Terry Hockersmith cast a nay vote which he explained before the vote was taken.

“I have the feeling that the drainage board position should be filled with an elected official,” Hockersmith said. “There is a lot of money that goes through the drainage board and I just think having an elected official would be better.”

Jamie Burton was appointed to the Montgomery County Health Board of Directors.

Ben-Hur scholar to speak at Lew Wallace Study

Dr. Howard Miller will present “2016: Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur, and the Bicentennial of Indiana Statehood” at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Carriage House Interpretive Center of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum.

The past year has seen an award-winning documentary about Wallace’s life by WTIU, a new theatrical movie of Ben-Hur, a revamped version of the novel by one of Wallace’s descendants, and several books about Wallace and Ben-Hur.

Miller will talk about the flurry of Ben-Hur material during the Indiana Bicentennial and what that looks like to an outsider and a scholar of the tradition. He also discuss recent books about Ben-Hur, including Jon Solomon’s recent book Ben-Hur: The Original Blockbuster, published in May, and last year’s Bigger Than Ben-Hur: The Book, Its Adaptations, and Their Audiences, which includes an essay by Miller.

He will also discuss at length the Ben-Hur feature film released this August. 

“My final impression of the film is that, although it is not as bad as my first impression or as terrible as most critics said it was, it’s still a bit of a mess. And those of us who wished it well should not pretend otherwise,” Miller writes. “I think that the people who made it did not trust the General and his sturdy and oft-tested ‘tale of the Christ’ and instead made all sorts of changes in it.” 

Miller is a dynamic speaker and award-winning educator. A native Texan, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin for 40 years, retiring in 2011. During his time at UT Austin, he was instrumental in founding the university’s Department of Religious Studies. He was the recipient of several awards for teaching excellence. He has been involved with the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum since 2000 and is a regular Title Sponsor for the annual fundraiser The TASTE of Montgomery County.

Thursday’s lecture is free and open to the public, but space in the Carriage House is limited. To make a reservation, call 765-362-5769 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

150 years and going strong

Any annual event that started before the Civil War must be something special to make it relevant today. In the case of Saturday’s 150th annual St. Bernard’s Bazaar there are plenty of reasons to continue with the event, and every reason is centered around the church’s ministry.

“The bazaar has been going on for so long, it really is hard for people to remember how long the church has been doing it,” Father Christopher Shocklee said. “When it did start we were not even a parish yet. The church was considered a mission at the time. Most people cannot think of a community activity that has ran as long as the bazaar.”

All funds raised from the bazaar go to the church and local non-profits. FISH, Habitat for Humanity, HUB Ministries and the Crawfordsville Rotary Club’s efforts in Haiti all will benefit from the bazaar.

Shocklee said some of the funds are earmarked this year for renovating the church’s sanctuary and grounds.

“We want to be able to share the proceeds with the community,” Shockley said. “We also are in the process of updating our property, so the money will come in handy to help us improve what we have.”

The bazaar will take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. This year there will be activities for all age groups. 

Adults will have several arts and crafts booths to browse and a silent auction will be held. Raffle tickets will be sold with the grand prize being $2,500.

Adults who are interested in poker can pre-register to compete. Card players can sign up at the church office. Black Jack tables also will be

available.

Teens will have their own room with activities, including movies. There also will be special activities for pre-kindergarten to elementary age

students.

Throughout the day, a complete chicken dinner will be served.