FAQ on Griffith Promise
Will Calendars be coordinated for kids at different schools (example grandparents’ day, meet the teacher night, etc.)?
School calendars will be coordinated for students and their families at different schools. These calendars will be submitted to Superintendent prior to the end of May and posted on websites during the summer. We want to ensure that parental involvement is a priority!
When will we find out our elementary teaching positions for 2020/2021? Are RIFS Coming? How will they be determined?
For the 2020/21 school year, the Teacher’s Union and Superintendent agree that we are able to fulfill all elementary teaching assignments without any RIFs. We have positions for all elementary teachers due to the repurposing of Ready.
In regards to MS/HS teaching positions, the MS/HS principal is currently working with the counselors on scheduling. At this time, we do not foresee any RIFs.
Is the MS/HS moving to a block schedule?
MS/HS will be moving to a block schedule based upon the movement of 6th grade to the MS/HS, integration of Project Based Learning, RTI, and career pathways. Student instruction needs to be longer than 50 minutes per class/course to accomplish the goals within the strategic plan and provide successful career pathways for our students.
Will we be able to add any art or music teachers in the HS/MS?
Griffith Public Schools will not be adding any additional art or music teachers at the MS/HS.
Will they be remodeling Wadsworth to make more efficient for younger students?
Griffith Public Schools will be ensuring that our two elementary buildings are age appropriate and more efficient for their grade level ranges of students. Input from staff and administration will be sought prior to any decisions made by Superintendent and School Board.
Could you give a couple of examples of touchstones students will be required to meet?
Future Griffith Graduate Portrait:
Upon graduation, Griffith Graduates will be able to:
Manage time well
Adapt to any situation
Exhibit organizational skills
Utilize proper grammar when communicating
Form relationships both personal and professional, as well as with the community
Collaborate with others
Innovate and adopt a visionary mindset
Utilize technology in order to learn, understand, and apply the skills of informational, media, and
Persevere with determination, intrinsic motivation, tenacity, and socially/emotionally
Communicate with various avenues, such as written, digitally, non-verbal, and verbal
Lead and exhibit responsibility, accountability, and professionalism with integrity
Demonstrate proficiencies in the areas of ELA/Math, Career Exploration, Pathway Components,
and Foundational Skills via Student Agency
Each grade level/department will determine what each of these bullet points look like at grade level/content area. For example, how will students at Grade 1 utilize proper grammar when communicating? Ex. Students in Grade 1 be able to spell high frequency words correctly, write logically connected sentences, and utilize appropriate lowercase and uppercase letters.
Would we be able to start a Middle School Spanish program?
Foreign Language development in earlier grades is an area in which there has been some discussion. During the 2020/21 school year, Griffith Public Schools will include foreign language at the MS level even if it is limited to one semester.
When will classified employees be told if there is to be a reduction?
Griffith Public Schools’ classified employees will receive notification by the end of the school year if their position is being reduced or eliminated.
When will staff be able to login into Schoology? Will there be training?
Griffith Public Schools is committed to ensure that staff have the information and professional development to ensure that Schoology is successful. We are working with PowerSchool now to gain access to ‘our’ Schoology portal. Training will first take place for teachers as soon as we are ready. Training with parents will be at the start of the 20-21 school year. Continue to watch for information in Panther News.
What extra supports will be put in the middle school and high school with the addition of 6th grade?
Extra supports are:
Co-teaching for exceptional programs
Teaming in Grades 6-8
Grade 6 students/teachers are housed in one hallway upstairs
Extra counselor added during 2019/20 school year at the MS/HS
What can I do as a teacher to best assist the students?
Please continue to support your students and their families during the rest of the school year. Please reach out to those who are in need and see how we can better support or assist them. Communicate those needs to your building administrator. Students are our number one priority!
Who will the administrators be in the new building structures?
Griffith Public Schools is evaluating and making determinations of the administrative staff due to the new elementary building structures. These names will be shared once a determination is made and approved by School Board.
How will coaching work with the buildings merging together? (Math bowl, spell bowl, student council, etc..)
Coaching determinations are made at the building level.
How will the decision of which teacher goes where for each grade level be determined?
In collaboration with the Teacher’s Union, our building administrators, Director of Business Services, and Director of Special Education and Grants, along with the Superintendent will make determinations for each grade level by taking into account seniority, past evaluation ratings, interests/passions, current teaching position, etc...
Will we be given time to pack up our rooms and how will stuff be moved to new classroom?
Yes, we are working on a schedule to abide by the social distancing guidelines for teachers to pack up their rooms and then our maintenance/custodial staff will move the items to the new classroom. We want to make this process as easy as possible for our teachers and staff.
How can I help?
Continue to support, assist, and reach out to our students and their families. If you wish to volunteer for food deliveries, please do so! Please reach out to colleagues and check on their wellbeing. Panthers, we thank you for all that you continue to do during this difficult time!
What is current framework for the 5 year plan?
The strategic plan is located on our district website for your review. Email the Superintendent with any questions.
Will we be able to have a certified art teacher in the elementary schools? A teacher that has been trained in art education?
Griffith Public Schools is committed to having special teachers within each of their remaining elementary buildings. Each building will house 1 PE, 1 art, 1 music, and 1 STEAM teacher. It is our intent to lengthen the time that our students participate in a special. Our goal would be to lengthen the time to at least 45 minutes.
What are you capping classes at?
During the 2018/19 school year, the School Board approved the following class sizes:
K – 2: up to 28 students in a class
3– 6: up to 30 students in a class
MS/HS: no less than 15 students in a class and approximately 30 students in a class
When will the public be told about the closure of Ready?
The public was shared this information at the school board meeting on April 9, 2020.
Will there be an additional school counselor or social worker put in the MS/HS building?
There will be 1 school counselor in each of our two elementary buildings. There are currently 3 counselors for students in Grades 6 –12.
Will there be any kind of incentive for early retirement for people during this movement of staffing?
At this time, there is no incentive for early retirement for teachers during this movement of staffing. We continue to work with our Teacher’s Union on matters such as these.
How will lunch and recess schedules work?
This is a building level administrator decision. Schedules are one of the items in which they are working on during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to ensure elementary students receive a 30 minute lunch period and at least two 15 minute recesses. We believe that students need adequate time to eat and plenty of time to play!
Will teachers get an extra work day before school starts to get all grade level members on the same page before coming back to school?
At this time, there has been no discussion regarding an extra work day with the teacher’s union. We will continue to work closely with our Teacher’s Union in regards to matters such as these so that we may receive teacher input.
Since our days (ES) will be shorter will we have to add any days to make up for lost time?
At this time, there will be no shortening of the teacher’s work day. If issues arise, a discussion will be held with the teacher’s union.
How will we be dispersing things from Ready? Funds, supplies, etc?
In regards to the disbursement of funds, we will work with the State Board of Accounts on the proper ways to disperse the funds to the remaining respective open elementary schools. Supplies, etc. we will work through and disperse according to grade level needs.
What should teachers be doing as we plan for curriculum and classes for next year?
Please wait on planning for curriculum and classes for next year until you hear from building level administrator and/or Superintendent.
Will HS/MS still have study hall?
MS/HS principal is currently working on schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will preschool program still be located at Beiriger? What will preschool hours change to?
Final details are still being worked out. We are planning to move the preschool program to Wadsworth in an effort to implement a seamless transition from preschool to Kindergarten.
Have you thought about using Google Classroom?
Griffith Public Schools currently utilizes Microsoft Office365. Google Classroom has been considered. The district has used Office365 for email for 10 years. Office365 offers industry standard Microsoft Office free to all students and staff. With the introduction of Microsoft Teams next school year, as well as the move to Schoology, the district will be well equipped to handle the flow of digital classroom.
How will before/after school transportation from the YMCA change?
There are no changes to school transportation to and from the YMCA except for time of pick up and drop off. We will ensure this information is shared with our families.
Is the PBL program going to reflect individual on grades or as a group?
Project Based Learning takes into account various modes of assessment, and these types of assessments are determined by facilitators and shared prior to projects.
Will there be multiple classrooms per grade level to keep classroom counts low?
There will be multiple classrooms per grade level as to keep classroom counts at optimum levels.
How will the WILA program work and where will it be housed?
WILA K-2 program will be housed at Wadsworth. WILA 3-5 program will be housed at Beiriger.
How many times kids would be allowed to be tardy or stay in the office after school?
We are addressing this transportation issue to eliminate a need for an allowance for tardies or staying after school in the office. Please see option presented in question #1.
Why can’t we discuss an option of making two schools K-5 and rezoning the lines for the town for both schools? What are benefits of K-2 & 3-5 in separate schools?
As shared during the presentation at the School Board meeting on April 9, 2020, there are 4 categories of benefits to this decision. These benefits include: consistency, financial, staff, and transportation. Please review the presentation on the district website for more information on these benefits.
Why don’t we have open enrollment?
At this time, Griffith Public Schools does not have open enrollment. This is a School Board decision.
Is GS troop #15465 going to ever be publicly acknowledged for the money raised for the therapy dog?
Due to COVID-19, Griffith Public Schools was unable to have Girl Scout Troup #15465 and the Donor of the remaining money, Telephone Pioneers of America and Marcia C. Warren Trust Fund, to be publicly present at the School Board meeting in March. We were hoping to recognize these individuals in person, and we hope to do at the next School Board meeting in which we are able to house the public.
What will happen with soccer field use at Ready?
YMCA will determine facility usage at Ready. We believe that the YMCA will continue to foster relationships with community organizations that benefit children.
Where will Blackcats be able to practice?
Blackcats will be able to practice in Griffith Public Schools Facilities. Facility usage forms can be found on district website.
Will Girl Scout/Boy Scout troops still be able to use the schools for meetings to do things to better our schools and community?
Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts will be able to utilize the Griffith Public Schools Facilities. Facility usage forms can be found on district website. The fees for 2020/21 will remain the same as in 2019/20 school year.
Will all students have access to buses?
K – 2 students who live within walking distance from Wadsworth will remain walkers. All other students who will attend Wadsworth will be bussed. 3-5 students who live within walking distance from Beiriger will remain walkers. All other students who will attend Beiriger will be bussed. 6-12 students who live within walking distance from MS/HS will remain walkers. All other students who will attend MS/HS will be bussed.
What steps will be made to fix the playground at Wadsworth?
We will work to determine what funds can be utilized to help in this effort in combination with any PTC funds that have been potentially raised at Ready and Wadsworth for this project.
Can there be a sports program for the elementary kids?
A sports program for elementary students can be organized. This can be discussed with our Athletic Director, Mr. Dimos.
Why was the video recording of the meeting taken down?
The video recording of the meeting was removed. The comments and video have been saved to address parents' concerns and feedback. However, some comments used profanity and inappropriate language which should not be housed or accessed on school corporation website.
What exactly can the YMCA do for our families that they aren’t already doing?
These opportunities include:
• Additional kindergarten readiness through the Y’s Early Learning Center
New School Age Programs to support kids and families Before & After School
Expanded youth sports
New gymnastics/dance/cheer programs
Updated Group Exercise Studio/Kids Studios
Kids cooking classes
STEAM classes (coincides with STEM initiative from IDOE)
Leadership Development Center
Will bussed kids arrive early enough for school breakfast?
Students will still be able to arrive early enough to enjoy our school breakfast. Please refer to question #1 for the option being explored at this time.
Will there still be “car rider” lines to pick kids up?
Yes, there will still be “car rider” lines to pick students up.
Are documents already signed?
Griffith Public Schools is currently working on finalizing a lease with YMCA. Our intentions are to be approved and signed at the May School Board meeting.
Can you please tell us more about the cellphone towers? Which schools are they located at and are they 5 g towers?
Yes, it is a 5g tower. It is located on a light pole overseeing the baseball field at the MS/HS.
What is being done or planned to ease this transition for students? What recommendations or resources can you provide for parents/families to help our children with the big change?
Griffith Public Schools has every intention to assist families in easing this transition for students. We will ensure that our counselors provide our families with resources and information. In the new grade configuration plan allows for one designated and highly qualified counselor in these two elementary buildings.
In the interim, if you or someone you know is dealing with economic hardships due to loss of employment or housing, please contact Mrs. Leah Dumezich at firstname.lastname@example.org or Erica Rios at email@example.com.
What about career center opportunities for high schoolers will they no longer have that opportunity?
Hammond Career Center opportunities will remain the same for our HS students. We hope that more students will participate.
Partnership with the YMCA what does this look like?
This will be a lease agreement with the YMCA. We are not selling the building at this time. Additional opportunities and collaboration to best meet the needs of our community are still being discussed. If you have any ideas, please feel free to contact the Superintendent.
How long have these plans been in discussion? Why was there never a public discussion prior to this decision? Did you consult with teacher’s prior to making such a huge decision? We are aware you met with them via video, but did you ask them what their thoughts or concerns were?
The Distressed Unit of Appeals (DUAB) contacted GPS on August 5th, 2019. At that time, GPS went through an assessment process to provide DUAB more information on our corporation and its fiscal condition. A representative from DUAB visited our campus on September 5th, 2019 to review our finances. The representative of DUAB summarized their findings for the DUAB Board. At that time, the DUAB Board requested more information from the Superintendent, Director of Business Services, Financial Consultant (Matt Ruess), and a board member. On November 15th, 2019, the above individuals travelled to Indianapolis to meet with the DUAB Board. Options at that meeting were discussed (closing of a building, referendum, transportation), but no final determinations were made by the School Board on how to proceed. On December 20th, 2019, DUAB sent GPS the response to the November meeting stating that, “Based on this review, DUAB would like to provide additional time for the school to evaluate its financial situation and develop a long term plan that provides for financial stability without further state intervention. This additional time will also allow the opportunity for property tax cap impacts for 2020 and beyond to be reflective of the actual impact resulting from the change in handling of debt service funds starting in 2020 in Lake County. DUAB has determined that an additional assessment shall be conducted in May of 2020. At this time, the school should be prepared to demonstrate a long-term plan that provides for positive and stable fund balances for the school. The plan should cover at least a five-year term or longer if necessary, to arrive at positive fund balances. DUAB has determined that it would like the school to present its plan to DUAB in an executive session in June of 2020.” On February 28th, 2020, Superintendent, Director of Business Services, Director of Special Education and Grants Manager, and Board President attended a Referendum Seminar in Kokomo, Indiana. The training information was shared with all board members in March. The determination to repurpose a building and partner with the YMCA was determined by the board in March. It was our hope and intention to deliver this information in a Public Board Meeting in April. The COVID 19 pandemic forced GPS to either deliver this news to the community virtually or wait until the Governor lifted the Executive Order. It is with deep regret that this decision had to be shared in a way that lacked empathy and sincerity. Please know that this decision did not come without strong emotions shared by both the Superintendent and School Board Members.
Virtual board meetings ongoing is this in addition to the standard in-person meetings (post social distancing) or is that intended as a replacement of the in-person meeting?
The March and April Board Meetings were conducted virtually in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order. Once the order has been lifted, we will resume in person board meetings. We will continue to explore live streaming as an addition.
How do you plan on getting around this law IC 20-26-7.1-4? We have had our attorney review this code and he has rendered the following opinion regarding same:
Upon review of I.C. § 20-26-7.1-3, it appears that this statutory section strictly applies to the sale or exchange of a vacant school building;
Moreover, upon review of I.C. § 20-26-7.1 et seq., this statute appears to be violative of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Hence, if I.C. § 20-26-7.1 et seq., did apply to our situation (i.e. the leasing and repurposing of Ready Elementary School) an argument could be made that the State of Indiana is forcing the District to sell its property without fair and just compensation for same in violation of the United States Constitution;
Furthermore, upon review of I.C. § 20-26-7.1 et seq., this statute appears to be violative of the Article 1, Section 21 to the Indiana State Constitution, which states that: “No person's particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation. No person's property shall be taken by law, without just compensation; nor, except in case of the State, without such compensation first assessed and tendered.”, if I.C. § 20-26-7.1 et seq., did apply to our situation (i.e. the leasing and repurposing of Ready Elementary School) an argument could be made that the State of Indiana is forcing the District to sell its property without fair and just compensation for same in violation of the Indiana State Constitution;
Upon review of I.C. § 36-1-11-5.5, it appears that a school corporation can transfer/lease (i.e. the repurposing of Ready Elementary School) its real property for a minimal fee to a not-for-profit corporation created for educational or recreational purposes.
NEW QUESTIONS/ANSWERS AS OF 4/17/2020:
With the hopes of implementing continuity in grade level will you look to hire/appoint a Director of Curriculum?
At this time, the board is not looking to hire/appoint a Director of Curriculum.
Will class sizes be re-evaluated by board with these changes?
As the board and Mrs. Riise discussed the repurposing of Eldon Ready Elementary School, class sizes were discussed. Class sizes are certainly being monitored and have been monitored daily since the start of the 2019/20 school year. New students have been placed in classrooms with the lowest class size. During the 2018/19 school year, the School Board approved the following class sizes:
K - 2: up to 28 students in a class
3 - 6: up to 30 students in a class
MS/HS: no less than 15 students in a class and approximately 30 students in a class.
Will GPS continue to have Title One Services?
GPS will continue to have Title One Services. Currently, our Title One Services are school-wide, and we are able to service all buildings.
How will you ensure that the school grade will still be an A or B?
The board, the community focus group, the vast majority of educators around the country, and general public unilaterally believe that the legislative focus on standardized testing rather than learning has resulted in “teaching to the test” which is not the best way to serve students. We are committed, now stronger than ever, to focus on learning rather than standardized testing. That will produce graduates that are more prepared for the world—that is our assurance.
NEW QUESTIONS/ANSWERS AS OF 4/27/2020:I am sure a lot of plans and decisions are still up on the air but I am quite curious as to how social distancing will be managed when schools reopen. I have read a lot about reducing classroom size for safety and I cannot help but think that will be an impossibility in our town given the plans to eliminate one of our elementary schools. I don’t see how we can safely bring our kids back to school in the fall facing larger classroom sizes. I don’t think we’ll be ready to have students seated elbow to elbow. So I’m just wondering how this will be managed this was taken under consideration when it was decided to close an elementary school and condense into only two. Thank you.The Superintendents in Indiana meet weekly with Dr. McCormick. I am attaching the latest in an article here regarding the start of school in the fall. As you can see, she is quite doubtful that we will begin school in a normal fashion. Dr. McCormick is already having us prepare ideas for how we can meet the needs of the students. In addition, she has also shared information with us in regards to two states who have already altered their schedules so more talks are to be on the horizon as we get into the summer months.As to your concern with larger class sizes, there is no plan to increase class sizes. In fact, the plan that the board and Mrs. Riise have in place is to stabilize the class sizes so that we can equalize the number of students in a class across the grade level. As it stood prior to COVID-19, we did have a grade level where the class sizes in one school were between 28-29 while at a different elementary school the class sizes were between 18-20 students in a class. That is a large difference, and the need is to equalize the number within a classroom for ALL students.Mrs. Riise will continue to keep parents informed as discussions increase as to the the start of school and what it will look like for Griffith Public Schools.New Questions/Answers Added May 19, 2020How can PBL be successfully implemented with such large class sizes? A few teachers I have spoken to stated it works better with a smaller group of students. Does the school intend on hiring aides for each classroom?A variety of sized groupings will be utilized during PBL instruction just as it is within our classrooms currently. Group sizes will be determined by project need and focus. We may combine classrooms for larger real-life, community-based projects and group students accordingly within a classroom of approximately 6-8 students for smaller projects. That is the beauty of PBL. Using groups that are self-directed, self-assessed, and interdependent assumes that students will utilize skills in problem solving, group work, self-directedness, self-assessment and communication. That will be the target behaviors to which we focus the skill development within each grade level. It is our role as facilitators to embed the skill development into the subject and course matter and content/skills.The school corporation does not intend to hire aides for each classroom at this time.The school board had approved a resolution two years ago to put into place a projected maximum number of students per classroom if funding was available. With this current configuration plan, we are able to ensure that our class sizes remain consistent across classrooms within a grade level as it had not done in the past. In fact with the current enrollment projections as of 5/19/2020, we are at or below the maximum within each of our elementary grade levels.As much as we dislike standardized testing, does that mean it's going away anytime soon? Are students still going to have to take these standardized tests? Can school districts opt out of standardized testing?And if they do, how do they receive their “grade?”Standardized testing is not going away at this time. We are still required as a public school corporation to fulfill this piece of legislated requirement; however, it will not be our focus. GPS believes strongly that students need to learn more than how to take a standardized test. Please refer to our strategic plan for how this will be done.Will PBL prepare students for these state mandated tests?PBL is an extremely effective environment to learn subject knowledge. It can be used to help students develop skills in lifetime learning, change management, teamwork, conflict resolution and problem solving. However, for this to be effective, there is much that a teacher can do to help the students acquire these abilities. These skills need to be identified as valued outcomes of the program…not preparation for a standardized test. Learning objectives and criteria will be created.Are teachers prepared to teach this type of learning style? Again, a few teachers I have spoken to believe it takes a special kind of teacher to implement this style of learning. Will there be training for teachers?Professional Development is the key to a successful implementation of PBL. As stated during May’s board meeting, I am devoted, as I have been since becoming Superintendent of Griffith Public Schools, to ensuring our teachers and staff received training. We have days set aside each year for Professional Development and continue to do so in 2020/21 school year.Research in learning highly suggests that learning improves if students are active, work cooperatively, have clear time on task, receive prompt feedback, and are in an environment that expects success and that caters to their personal learning style. PBL provides a wonderful opportunity to achieve this. The challenge for us it to create an environment that does indeed include these characteristics as we have outline in our strategic plan. In addition, this type of learning creates an environment that nurtures “deep” learning rather than surface/remote learning as our current classrooms reinforce in their traditional industrial type of instruction. This will provide the best option for the development of lifelong learning skills.We recognize that PBL may not be the format that fits a teacher’s culture or personal style; however, our students deserve our best instruction. PBL provides the best chance for our students to succeed in the future.