FWCS Visionary October 2017

Dr. Robinson Named Indiana Superintendent Of The Year

Will Represent Indiana In National Contest

Dr. Wendy Robinson, superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, has been named the Indiana Superintendent of the Year for 2018 by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS).

She becomes Indiana’s representative in the American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent of the Year program.

“Dr. Wendy Robinson has not only been a steady force guiding one of Indiana’s largest school districts, she is a passionate advocate for children and public schools and a national leader for her expertise in improving urban education,” said Dr. J.T. Coopman, executive director of IAPSS. “When she speaks in front of a professional conference or testifies before a legislative committee, she is universally respected for her achievements and her experience. Indiana could not have a finer candidate to represent the state in the 2018 national superintendent of the year competition.”

Robinson has been superintendent of Fort Wayne Community schools since 2003 and previously served the district as an assistant principal, principal, area administrator, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent. In all, she has more than 30 years of experience as a school administrator.

Robinson was one of the members of the inaugural class of Broad Center Fellows, a national program designed to prepare and challenge urban school leaders. She has received numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Hill Superintendent of the Year Award in 2009 from the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

She is an active member of the community, forming partnerships with state and local agencies and businesses and serving on several state and local boards, including Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and Parkview Hospital. She served as the president of the Indiana Urban Superintendents Association in 2012-2013 and formerly served as a member of the Indiana Education Roundtable

Robinson is a graduate of DePauw University and earned two master’s degrees from Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne and her doctorate from Ball State University.

Another mural to be part of whitney young artist in residence series

For about a half-hour, kindergarten students at Whitney Young Early Childhood Center sat listening to artist Jerrod Tobias talk about pollinators, their importance and the importance of making sure pollinators have the right plants to thrive and do their jobs.

When he was done and the students split to work on drawing pollinators or flowers, teacher Erin Patton-McFarren found out just how closely the students had been listening.

“The bees need those,” the students told her, after learning she and a student teacher had gone out to cut down flowers so the students could study them.

The scene played out as part of the Artist in Residence program at Whitney Young, where Tobias is working on his second mural. This one will be on the “butterfly wall,” a 200-foot space leading to the entrance of the school. Tobias told the students this will be the second-longest mural in the city.

Tobias has been painting murals as public art in the city for at least a couple years: a 100-foot mural for the North Anthony Corridor at Firefly Coffee House; a 300-foot Metaform mural on a retaining wall along Columbia Avenue near downtown Fort Wayne; and some smaller works.

Last year, Tobias worked with these same Whitney Young students (as pre-kindergarteners) to come up with the “Nothing without Joy,” mural painted with a fish/underwater theme also near the entrance to Whitney Young.

Tobias works on the underwater mural last spring

The Artist in Residence program has always been a part of the arts curriculum at Whitney Young. How the teachers work with artists can change from year to year, according to Patton-McFarren.

Tobias was first invited to participate last fall after Patton-McFarren saw a television news story about his Metaform mural, the one along Columbia Street near downtown.

“When the city announced the project, I thought it would be exciting for the children to work with an artist who they can see working in the community,” she said.

And see him, they have. With photos of his murals hanging on the white board in the classroom, the students let him know they’ve seen his work.

For Tobias, to have been invited was an honor.

“I have been an instructor privately, and always want to teach others,” he said. “The most wonderful thing about art is sharing the process and experience. I believe it has the power to open people’s hearts and minds. I want to teach kids to believe in their imagination and intuition.”

Tobias, the father of three, said he and his wife believe it is their personal responsibility to help people with art: “We believe it can help everyone grow.”

The inspiration for the pollinator theme this fall came to Tobias last spring when he was painting the fish mural at the school.

That’s when he learned about the school’s garden club. It was natural for the school’s Reggio approach to learning to extend the gardening interest to the mural project about pollinators, Patton-McFarren said.

So, beginning late last month, Tobias met with the kindergarteners, spoke to them about pollinators and began the process of drawing pollinators (birds, bees and bats) and flowers with the students.

Once done, he will turn their drawings into a stencil to use in painting the mural beginning this week. And, the students will once again take their notebooks out and watch.

Other artists who have been, or will be, at the school this year are: Yoga instructor Tiffany Herron of the Yoga Farm; Illustrator Rebecca Stockert; Printmaker Julie Wall of the Hedge; Ceramicist Laura Brandenburg; and Multi-media photographer/artist Daniel Dienelt.

You can see videos of others Artists in Residence by clicking the button below.

2018 fwcs budget slightly higher than '17

The Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees was presented a budget for 2018 at the Sept. 25 meeting that is 1.9 percent higher than the 2017 budget.

The 2018 budget anticipates an increase in student enrollment, which would mean an increase in state funding. As of the official count day, FWCS enrollment was up more than 150 students. The final enrollment number will be available in October after enrollment records statewide are cleaned up.

The $295.5 million plan continues to focus on spending the maximum amount possible in the classroom. State funding, however, is only increasing by 0.7 percent per student.

“We work diligently every year to make sure the maximum amount of resources are being directly spent for the benefit of students,” Chief Financial Officer Kathy Friend said. “Though we are seeing only a slight increase in the per pupil amount in state funding, the increase in enrollment will help maintain our goal of focusing on the classroom first.”

FWCS remains above average in the state in terms of funneling dollars into the classroom. During the 2014-15 school year, the most recent year data is available, FWCS spent 61.4 percent of its budget in the classroom, compared to the state average of 57 percent.

Work will continue on the building projects included in the 2016 referendum, which was approved by voters. In addition, the Capital Projects plan includes $5.9 million in general building maintenance, such as roof replacements, HVAC replacements, masonry, traffic and safety improvements and more. With the referendum covering major work on buildings, the Capital Projects Fund can once again be used for ongoing maintenance on the district’s 62 buildings.

Property owners should see a minimal change in the property taxes paid to FWCS. The owner of a $100,000 home with the homestead exemption can expect to pay about $5 more than last year.

This will be the last year the Board approves a budget based on five different funds, each with their own guidelines for how the funds can be spent. A change in state law reduces the number of non-debt funds to two: One for educational expenses and one for operational expenses.

“This change will allow some flexibility in how money is spent, but we must make sure we are disciplined in allocating funds similar to how it is done now,” Friend said. “We still need to make sure we are covering transportation, capital projects and classroom expenses. Just because we can move money around doesn’t mean we will have funding available to move. We must remain good stewards of our resources with this flexibility.”

A public hearing on the proposed 2018 budget will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, in the Grile Administrative Center, 1200 S. Clinton St. Board members will vote on the plan at the Oct. 23 Board meeting.

FWCS enrollment up for 2017-18

Enrollment at Fort Wayne Community Schools is up 156 students for the 2017-18 school year as of Friday, Sept. 15, the state’s official count day.

The district’s tentative official enrollment is 29,628, up from 29,472 last year. Schools now have two weeks after the count day to clean up data and make sure all students are accounted for and no students are counted more than once. In October, the final official enrollment will be released.

This is the first time in five years that FWCS has seen an increase in students.

“While our enrollment has been fairly steady, we have seen a slow tick down over the last five years,” Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. “This decrease was never surprising because of Indiana’s extensive voucher program. However, even though more vouchers are handed out within our boundaries than anywhere else in the state, we have remained stable in our enrollment.

“The increase in students this year affirms the great work going on in our schools every day, and the commitment our teachers, administrators, support staff and Board of School Trustees have made to educate every child that comes to us to high standards,” she added.

All schools in Indiana are required to count their students on the state’s official count day, which this year fell on Sept. 15. Funding from the state is based on this count.

Historic Official Enrollment Count:

2017-18 – 29,628

2016-17 – 29,472

2015-16 – 29,654

2014-15 – 30,607

2013-14 – 30,980

2012-13 – 30,647

2011-12 – 30,992

Adams students participate in fun friday

Students who follow the character traits in the Adams Elementary School pledge earn Aces Bucks. Then, once a month, they get to spend those bucks at Fun Friday. During Fun Friday, the students get to participate in activities such as playing with PlayDoh; working on learning games with iPads; having a dance party in the school gym. The activities happen the last half-hour of the day. We spent some time at Adams for the first Fun Friday of the 2017-18 school year.

Little Kids Rock Comes to FWCS

Little Kids Rock is starting an innovative program called “Modern Band” in seven FWCS schools: Abbett, Bloomingdale, Forest Park, Maplewood, Price, St. Joseph Central and Washington elementary schools.

The program is sponsored by Sweetwater Sound and its founder, Chuck Surack.

Modern Band is a culturally-responsive approach to music education that allows students to see themselves, their culture and their community reflected in their school music program. '

Students in grades one, two and three will learn by playing, performing and composing the music they know and love, including rock, pop, R&B, hip-hop or other popular music styles.

In addition to vocals, instruments used include drums, guitar, bass guitar and keyboards. Little Kids Rock partners with public school districts across the country to build music programs as diverse as the students being served. To date, it serves more than 650,000 students.


Photo courtesy of Food Allergy & Research

Princesses, super heroes and monsters will be making the rounds later this month, ringing your door bells and singing out "trick or treat."

Some of those costume-clad youngsters will also be food allergy sufferers who may not be able to partake of the candy your house is giving out. There is a way, however, to help include children with food allergies into the joys of trick-or-treating.

The folks at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) have been promoting the Teal Pumpkin Project and urging to people to have a non-food choice for trick-or-treat.

Placing a teal pumpkin on your door step indicates you have non-food items for Halloween revelers who may suffer a food allergy.

Food allergies affect about 15 million people in the United States. According to FARE, A food allergy results when the immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein as a threat and attacks it. The top eight food allergens in the United States are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.

You can paint your own pumpkin teal, or, you can find teal colored faux pumpkins at major craft stores such as Michaels.

Looking for some ideas on what sort of non-food items to hand out on Halloween? The FARE website has you covered. Just click on this link to see what they suggest. Or, download this PDF.

Seeking qualified bus drivers

FWCS is hiring bus drivers. Bus drivers are tasked with transporting students safely and efficiently to assigned locations along designated routes. For a full job description, and to apply, press the button below.

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