Local News

New Albany, Floyd County Superintendent Raise Approved

The New Albany/Floyd County school board has approved a 20 percent raise for Superintendent Bruce Hibbard.

The 5-2 vote came in front of a packed house at Monday’s school board meeting. Several who attended did not appreciate the board’s decision to grant the raise, which will bring Hibbard’s salary up to $170,000.

“I think Dr. Hibbard is an incredibly talented superintendent and has done a lot of good things since coming to this corporation and I would have liked to have voted to give him a raise but there’s an economic reality out there right now,” said board member Lee Cotner who opposed the raise.

Local News

Southern Indiana Schools Show Improvement on ISTEP+ Scores

Test scores for Indiana schools in the 2010-2011 school year were released today, and the pass rates in Southern Indiana showed improvements.

New Albany-Floyd County showed a thirteen percent increase over the past two years, while Greater Clark Schools saw a 17 percent increase over the same period.

The state uses standardized test scores in math and language arts to measure the success of its schools.  The pass rates at Greater Clark schools were only one percent lower than the statewide average, which is a marked improvement over the last two years.

Chief Operating officer of Greater Clark County Schools Marty Bell says the average gains on the test scores surpass the county’s goals.

“We established a goal for our schools over a three year period to be able to raise our test scores 15 percent over a three year period,” says Bell “and in fact we have raised our test scores approximately 17 percent over a two year period, so we’re extremely pleased with the work of our teachers.”

Over the last two years, Greater Clark pass rates have jumped 15 percent in language arts and 18 percent in math, while the statewide rates in each category have seen only eight percent gains.

“We’re right now right at the state average and as indicated by the test scores, we virtually doubled, over-doubled the growth between us and the state,” he says “so we’re very pleased with that.”

The statewide pass rate is 70 percent, which is a nine percent gain since 2009.  State superintendent Tony Bennett told other sources that the steady gains show that the state is on the right track.  The highest pass rate of 93 percent was recorded in the Carmel-Clay district.

Local News

Teach for America Coming to Appalachia

Three eastern Kentucky school districts have agreed to hire Teach for America instructors next fall. This will be the organization’s first operation in Kentucky and in Appalachia.

Teach for America places young teachers in impoverished and struggling schools, and about three fourths of the organization’s operations are in cities, the nearest being Nashville and Indianapolis.

Teach for America Appalachia will place 90 teachers in Martin, Floyd and Knox county schools over the next three years. Director Will Nash says he expects the partnership to extend beyond those three years, but not beyond Appalachia.

“Right now we’re focused on eastern Kentucky and we’re focused on our success there,” he says.

Local News

Two Dead In Southern Indiana Plane Crash

By Rick Howlett

Two people have been killed in the crash of a small plane Sunday night  in Floyd County, Indiana.

The  single engine Piper went down in a  field off state road 111.

The Courier-Journal reports the plane was headed to Bowman Field in Louisville.   The names of the victims have not been released.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have opened investigations into the crash.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Inidana School Districts Faced with More Cuts

School districts throughout Indiana are now looking harder at making cuts after Governor Mitch Daniels stepped up the timetable for reducing the education budget by 3.5 percent. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Indiana districts expected to have 18 months to cut their budgets. But the Governor now says districts will have to absorb a $300 million cut over 12 months beginning in January.

For the New Albany – Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation, it means a $2.5 million cut. This is after it has already cut $2.1 million from its budget for the next two years.

Superintendent Bruce Hibbard says the district is looking at cutting several areas and even the efficiency of running 13 elementary schools.

“It gives us the opportunity to really change things and I’m looking for win-wins — how we can enhance the academic side and yet stay within the budget,” he says.

The state has provided districts with a list [pdf] of possible places to make cuts. It includes cuts to benefits and travel budgets. And State Superintendent Tony Bennett says he believes districts can make the cuts without teacher layoffs.

“We hope that local communities will have that discussion about the importance of making sacrifices to keep teachers working,” Bennet says.

Hibbard says this situation comes at a very challenging time for education in this country.

“In the year 2014, every student is supposed to be proficient or at standard,” Hibbard says. “You have that working as well as a budget situation that we’re actually going to be taking resources away from our schools.”

Voters in Indiana Out in High Numbers

Voters in Floyd County, Indiana, have been turning out in higher numbers than previous elections, say many precinct inspectors there.

Some residents, like Beth Hardin, say it’s the economy that is motivating people in this election.

“People are just hurting around in this area because all of the factories have been closing and leaving,” Hardin says.

Hardin is working at a precinct in New Albany’s Slate Run School, where there was a long line when polls opened at 6 a.m.

Dora LaDuke is a precinct inspector in Floyds Knobs. She says she’s seen a community divided in its choice for president.

“I’ve got many friends on one way and many friends on the other. It’s like oil and water,” LaDuke says.

Floyds Knobs was once a farming community that primarily voted Democratic but has become increasingly conservative as more suburban neighborhoods have sprung up in the area.

Indiana is one state in the spotlight this Election Day, with a close vote predicted between the presidential candidates.

Polls in Indiana close at 6 p.m.

Local News

Absentee Voting is High in Indiana

Officials say the number of people voting absentee in Indiana has been high in the weeks leading up to Election Day. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

According to the Indiana Secretary of State’s office, 6 percent of the state’s 4.5 million registered voters had submitted absentee ballots in person or by mail by last week.

The clerks in both Clark and Floyd counties say their offices have been busy for weeks, with people often waiting to vote when the offices open at 8 a.m.

Clark County Clerk Barbara Haas says as of Friday her office had seen voters at a rate higher than the state percentage.

“We’ve voted right at 6,000 already and the total voter registration in Clark County is like 77,000, so I’d say we’re voting nearly 10 percent,” Hass says.

Some states have already had a high turnout of early voting. The battleground state of North Carolina has had more than 20 percent of registered voters cast their ballots.

In Southern Indiana, the Clark and Floyd county clerks say that  Indiana law doesn’t allow for early voting, but does allow absentee voting, says Haas.

“Absentee voting means that they’re stating that they will be away from the county on Election Day,” Hass says. “Or if they’re over 65, it’s automatic that they can vote this way.”

The Indiana polls close at noon today for voting by absentee ballot.