News and Tribune

December 19, 2013

Greater Clark Schools chief talks career, college readiness

Andrew Melin also decries parts of governor’s education plan

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

CLARKSVILLE — Updates from the superintendent about Gov. Mike Pence’s education roadmap for 2014 and college and career readiness after high school took most of the discussion at Tuesday’s board meeting for Greater Clark County Schools.

Andrew Melin shared his thoughts after meeting with the district’s advisory board on college and career readiness.

He said along with this year’s 1:1 program [which puts computers in the hands of every student], full-implementation of the district’s IMPACT intervention program and others, college and career readiness would complement those moves.

“This is an umbrella initiative that everything else fits under, everything else we’re doing,” Melin said. “All of this helps to feed this college and career readiness piece. This is the umbrella that ties everything together.”As college students in Indiana struggle to find jobs in their field of study — with 53 percent of graduates jobless or underemployed, according to Melin’s presentation — the program would seek to help students focus on what they want for their future while they’re still in K-12 schools.

He said especially as students rack up thousand of dollars in student debt, he hopes this will help them aim for something they both want to do and will be able to find jobs with. He said to do that, high schools will have to come up with career pathways for students.

“That means they have a focus, that means they’re striving for something,” Melin said. “If they change it the next day, that’s OK. But what I worry about today is developing kids who have no idea what they want tomorrow.”

He also said after meeting with business leaders, the traits they’re searching for in new hires don’t necessarily line up with degree-related skills, but involve basics such as punctuality and the ability to work in teams. To help foster that, Melin suggested the creation of a work ethic certification to give students who complete a certain set of qualifications.

Melin said if business organizations such as One Southern Indiana bought into the idea, it would help carry some weight if students presented the certification during job interviews.

Through the end of this schools year, Melin said he hopes every student from grades 6 to 11 will identify a career pathway, and next year, they can work on more advanced aspects of the plan.

GOVERNOR’S PATH

Melin also discussed his thoughts on Gov. Pence’s proposed education roadmap as presented last week in Corydon.

Some of his concerns with Pence’s teacher incentives, such as the stipend to convince teachers to work in underperforming schools or low-income charter schools, involve losing the good teachers he employs.

“Obviously, he’s looking to make it more attractive for really good teachers to want to go teach at charter schools,” Melin said. “With all due respect, we don’t want to lose our good teachers to anyone. It’s hard to support that vision as it’s currently laid out.”

He also took issue with Pence’s proposal to allow more flexibility within the budgets of charter schools.

Though the focus of the governor’s proposal is to allow charter schools to manage the budgets of multiple schools in the same group as one instead of several, Melin said there’s some inflexibility within public school budgets that needs rectification.

For example, districts are restricted in tax-supported budgets, such as bus replacement funds and capital projects funds. Instead of shifting those dollars in their budget from one to another, they have to appropriate money from their rainy day funds to make up any deficits.

“The idea of more flexibility of budgeting is a good one, but obviously, I think it’s important for everyone, including K-12 schools,” Melin said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

• The board unanimously passed the acceptance of a $5,000 grant from the Indiana Art Commission.

• The board passed graduation dates for all three high schools. New Washington High School’s is set at 7 p.m. on June 13, Jeffersonville High School’s is at 10 a.m. on June 14 and Charlestown High School is set for 1 p.m. on June 14.

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Updates from the superintendent about Gov. Mike Pence’s education roadmap for 2014 and college and career readiness after high school took most of the discussion at Tuesday’s board meeting for Greater Clark County Schools.

Andrew Melin shared his thoughts after meeting with the district’s advisory board on college and career readiness.

He said along with this year’s 1:1 program [which puts computers in the hands of every student], full-implementation of the district’s IMPACT intervention program and others, college and career readiness would complement those moves.

“This is an umbrella initiative that everything else fits under, everything else we’re doing,” Melin said. “All of this helps to feed this college and career readiness piece. This is the umbrella that ties everything together.”As college students in Indiana struggle to find jobs in their field of study — with 53 percent of graduates jobless or underemployed, according to Melin’s presentation — the program would seek to help students focus on what they want for their future while they’re still in K-12 schools.

He said especially as students rack up thousand of dollars in student debt, he hopes this will help them aim for something they both want to do and will be able to find jobs with. He said to do that, high schools will have to come up with career pathways for students.

“That means they have a focus, that means they’re striving for something,” Melin said. “If they change it the next day, that’s OK. But what I worry about today is developing kids who have no idea what they want tomorrow.”

He also said after meeting with business leaders, the traits they’re searching for in new hires don’t necessarily line up with degree-related skills, but involve basics such as punctuality and the ability to work in teams. To help foster that, Melin suggested the creation of a work ethic certification to give students who complete a certain set of qualifications.

Melin said if business organizations such as One Southern Indiana bought into the idea, it would help carry some weight if students presented the certification during job interviews.

Through the end of this schools year, Melin said he hopes every student from grades 6 to 11 will identify a career pathway, and next year, they can work on more advanced aspects of the plan.

GOVERNOR’S PATH

Melin also discussed his thoughts on Gov. Pence’s proposed education roadmap as presented last week in Corydon.

Some of his concerns with Pence’s teacher incentives, such as the stipend to convince teachers to work in underperforming schools or low-income charter schools, involve losing the good teachers he employs.

“Obviously, he’s looking to make it more attractive for really good teachers to want to go teach at charter schools,” Melin said. “With all due respect, we don’t want to lose our good teachers to anyone. It’s hard to support that vision as it’s currently laid out.”

He also took issue with Pence’s proposal to allow more flexibility within the budgets of charter schools.

Though the focus of the governor’s proposal is to allow charter schools to manage the budgets of multiple schools in the same group as one instead of several, Melin said there’s some inflexibility within public school budgets that needs rectification.

For example, districts are restricted in tax-supported budgets, such as bus replacement funds and capital projects funds. Instead of shifting those dollars in their budget from one to another, they have to appropriate money from their rainy day funds to make up any deficits.

“The idea of more flexibility of budgeting is a good one, but obviously, I think it’s important for everyone, including K-12 schools,” Melin said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

• The board unanimously passed the acceptance of a $5,000 grant from the Indiana Art Commission.

• The board passed graduation dates for all three high schools. New Washington High School’s is set at 7 p.m. on June 13, Jeffersonville High School’s is at 10 a.m. on June 14 and Charlestown High School is set for 1 p.m. on June 14.