On the Beat in Bluffton

Thursday, April 24, 2014

(Some of the) Wells County school numbers are in

The Indiana Department of Education has spread a 500-plus piece puzzle out on the taxpayers’ and parents’ tables.

When it’s assembled, officials say, the completed picture reveals their schools’ performances.

School administrators, however, say it appears that some pieces of the puzzle are either missing or inaccurate.

For instance, the state requires the districts to report how they spend their money. In particular, school officials must tally the percent of expenditures dedicated to academic achievement. In the 2012-2013 school year, Northern Wells, Bluffton-Harrison and Southern Wells dedicated 43.2, 50.3 and 53.9 percent of spending respectively for “academic achievement.” However, the numbers don’t reveal what specific expenses exalt academic achievement.

This category would presumably include teacher salaries and benefits, but does it also include classroom supplies? Does it include interactive white boards, such as the SMART Board technology? What about instruments for the band? Band students need them for academic achievement, and yet, they are perhaps more costly than typical classroom supplies but impact a smaller percentage of students than textbooks.

Or does the state instruct school administrators to tally musical instruments, SMART Boards, and crayons and scissors under the “instructional support expenditures” category? The state doesn’t list any examples to help clarify the distinction between the two. Instead, according to the guide that complements the statistics, “percent academic achievement expenditures” is defined as “percentage of total spending for academic achievement.” Also, “percent instructional support expenditures” is defined as “percentage of total spending for instructional support.” The statistics also don’t trace the districts’ spending for academic achievement back to the districts’ schools.

Furthermore, the report doesn't specify if the percentages represent an average of the district’s three schools’ spending for academic achievement? Do individual schools make such distinctions?

Learn more about the reports — and see the reports — in the Thursday, April 24, News-Banner.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gerber appears on "Today" show to discourage distracted driving

Bluffton resident Chandler Gerber appeared on the Today show Wednesday morning to talk about his experience texting and driving that left three children dead. (Video courtesy of NBC'S "Today.")

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

N-B Flashback: Gerber will tell his story on the ‘Today’ show Wednesday

Bluffton resident Chandler Gerber will appear live on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday to warn an estimated 6 million people about the dangers of driving while distracted.

“Today” is broadcasting the interview at 9:14 a.m. on Channel 33 in Wells County as part of a series of segments for National Distracted Driving Month.

Gerber was texting Tuesday, April 17, 2012, when a van he was driving hit a horse-drawn buggy in Adams County, killing three.

After the incident, Gerber appeared in a nationwide documentary AT&T created as part of its nationwide “It Can Wait” campaign to prevent distracted driving, and when “Today” producers contacted Jennifer Smith, who coordinates speakers for the campaign, and asked to interview a male, she recommended Gerber. 

Learn more in the Tuesday, April 22, News-Banner, and watch the August 2013 documentary below.

Surveyor talks flood insurance, EMA talks grant funding

County Surveyor Jarrod Hahn told the Wells County Drainage Board Monday that he was going to meet this week with Area Plan Office Director Mike Lautzenheiser Jr. about the county's flood program community rating system in an attempt to get a 20 to 25 percent discount on premiums for those residents who are required to get flood insurance.

To learn more about the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Flood Insurance Program CRS, click here.

Meanwhile, the Wells County Commissioners gave permission to Wells County Emergency Management Director Wayne Grove to apply for a Department of Homeland Security grant to put a parkwide PA system in at the 4-H Park.

To view the Facebook page of the county's EMA, click here.

Learn more about these stories in the Tuesday, April 22, News-Banner.

Monday, April 21, 2014

N-B Video: Man chomps his way to victory in annual Peep-eating contest

Rex T. Huffman devours 12 Peeps in 31 seconds to win the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department's annual Peep-eating contest on Easter weekend. For more stories and videos, go to www-news.banner.com. See a photo slideshow of county Easter egg hunts at www.news-banner.com. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, April 18, 2014

N-B Video: Lancaster Central students practice football with the Colts

The Indianapolis Colts visited Lancaster Central Elementary School Thursday to set up a football clinic to encourage students to stay active and eat healthy. Students in the second through fifth grades maneuvered around obstacles, plowed through dummies and lobbed footballs while representatives of the Colts cheered them on. Norwell High School graduate and Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish also visited to rally the kids. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Video: Speaker — Wells has shortage of mental health care providers

Dennis Banas, president of South Bend-based Praxis Strategies and Solutions Inc., whose company studied the area’s mental health needs for The Lutheran Foundation, says Wells County and others in the area could use more mental health care providers. Learn more in the Friday, April 18, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)