State superintendent tours two Ripley Co. schools

Mary Mattingly

Brad Street is spending some time in Indianapolis, all for the benefit of Ripley County. Street, the superintendent of the Southeastern Career Center in Versailles, was at the State House Wednesday, the same day the State Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz paid a visit to the SCC school board and toured Jac-Cen-Del schools.

At right, Glenda Ritz, the state superintendent of public instruction, toured Jac-Cen-Del schools last week. Elementary Principal Travis Rohrig greeted her at the office before showing off the school’s classrooms and program. She remarked how “new” and nice the school looked.

Ritz toured the school, and talked about her support of career pathways for all students. At the SCC school board meeting, she addressed the waivers and options for make-up days due to the weather. Street testified in Indianapolis for HB 1213, which would create a career and technology diploma. This would apply math, science and English curriculum to industrial applications. “The student would then see why they need to learn it. It would show the value,” Street said.

While in Ripley County, Ritz said she is monitoring the possible changes to diploma options and the education funding structure. Street, who is also the president of the Indiana Association of Career and Technical Education Districts, presented to the Indiana Career Council at the government center about House Bill 1064 Wednesday. Street also testified to the education committee about the bill, which involves a study to show the return on investment for career tech education. He presented to the Indiana Career Council for the entire state on behalf of the career center districts. He testified in support of the study and requested they keep the directors as a part of the study group.

The third bill he’s advocating is HB 1181. This one allows the five co-op schools in the state to borrow money like the other school districts can. All three bills passed unanimously from the House, and is headed for Senate hearings. Of HB 1181, Street said, “It’s very important. Because we are a co-op, we can’t tax or generate funds so there is no money to fix the buildings.” The 12 participating school superintendents would then go to their respective boards to help with funding improvements.

Glenda Ritz at JCD data board

At left, Glenda Ritz viewed the data board marking student progress on testing at JCD Elementary School.

Enrollment is projected to increase in the next five years and they’re already around 900 students. The building was opened in 1969 and the furnace, AC, plumbing, and even windows are old and need to be replaced. If it passes, the school board would evaluate needs, cost, etc. It would be at least at year before any renovation or changes would occur.

In the meantime, the weather has impacted completing the front-wing expansion. The plan is still to move into it in the fall. “Hopefully, this addition helps make us operate better. I’m not talking gold faucets or anything, just common sense things,” Street said. This will allow for a large meeting room, moving administrative offices, and freeing up space for classrooms, among other things.

Dr. Leanna Phillipe, superintendent of Jac-Cen-Del schools, said they were honored to be included in Ritz’s visit Wednesday to Southeastern Indiana. “We are very proud of the accomplishments over the past year, and we were glad to be able to share some of the success stories.  She did tour both buildings and was able to visit classrooms where we could emphasize academics and the arts. “


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