On Monday high school students at Southern Wells were introduced to fellow Hoosier Brady Noonkester, who is forever age 19 after dying from a prescription drug overdose in June 2012, just weeks after his high school graduation.
Noonkester's father, Dustin, spoke at all three of the county's high schools Monday and shared his son's story. Learn more in the Tuesday, Nov. 24, News-Banner.
Learn more about "Brady's Hope," an effort to promote a drug-free life, by clicking here.
Learn more about the Indiana Attorney General's task force that helped bring Noonkester to town, The Bitter Pill, by clicking here.
New court data released last month for 2014 indicates a drop in jury trials but an increase in “children in need of services” cases in Wells County. Meanwhile, the number of new criminal cases filed in local county courts dropped between 2013 (650 cases) and 2014 (539) – the first decrease, according to state data, since at least 2010. New juvenile filings increased between 2013 (202 cases) and 2014 (259 cases).
Learn more in the Monday, Nov. 23, News-Banner.
To explore the data, click here. The data fields give readers the option to select the year, county, court, and type of data to see.
In the throes of an opiate overdose, medics can administer a fast-acting drug that counteracts the effects, at times stopping death. Naloxone, commonly called by its trademarked name of Narcan, has been around for decades – but local emergency personnel are administering it more now than perhaps ever before. “It’s a wonderful drug if you’re trained to use it,” said Wells County EMS Director Rick Piepenbrink.
In a letter to parents posted on the school district's website, Yencer urged parents to consider the effects of this year's more difficult ISTEP+, which was given in the spring to students in grades three through eight. The test, which is tied to things such as teacher pay and school funding, also was based on newer, tougher state education standards.
"ISTEP+ is just one measure of student learning, and in no way has it been reflective of all of your student's knowledge, skills or ability," Yencer wrote. "Many students will fail the ISTEP+ for the first time this year. Please encourage your son or daughter to keep working hard in those classes and avoid being (discouraged) about their performance.
"A failing exam this year does not mean that your student was not giving a great effort."
The Indiana Department of Education began releasing students' test scores to parents last week. Since then, school leaders across the state have been working to sift through the data.
How big of a drop among local students' scores is unclear, but Yencer said in his letter 13 to 17 percent more students will fail the English portion of the ISTEP+ this year. The state could see up to 30 percent more failing scores on the math portion of the tests, he said.
ISTEP+ scores also are used to calculate A-F accountability grades given each year to schools and school districts.
Gov. Mike Pence and Republican state lawmakers have expressed support for measures to shield teachers from penalties on job evaluations that could result from low scores. There is no specific plan in place, however.
The program is a state fund that grants money to school districts to conduct threat assessments, purchase equipment or employ a school resource officer. More than $10 million will go to 260 schools and school corporations, Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement.
“The safety of our kids is our highest priority, and this grant program continues to be a valuable partnership between local schools and the state,” Pence said.
Funding this year for the grants comes from an original $3.5 million allocation, $3.5 million from DHS funds, and more than $3 million in unspent and unallocated funds from previous years, according to the governor’s statement.
Nearly $5 million of the awarded funding will be used to purchase equipment such as security cameras; more than $5.1 million will go to employ police officers for schools.