A consistent theme ran through Noblesville Schools Supt. Beth Niedermeyer’s State of the Schools address.
“We know if students don’t feel safe and cared for, then they can’t learn,” Niedermeyer said at the Oct. 30 Noblesville Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Purgatory Golf Club. “Everything we do at Noblesville Schools is centered around doing what is best for kids.That includes keeping updated on research.”
She said later start times for high school and middle school students have been really powerful because they come to school more rested.
“Then for elementary students when they are starting to get weary and tired, it’s time for them to go home,” Niedermeyer said.
A referendum was passed in November 2018, providing $50 million during eight years.
“We honored everything we said we were going to do with that referendum, focusing on three areas, safety, mental health and compensation for our staff, making sure we are keeping our salaries competitive,” Niedermeyer said. “We were pleased to dive right in. We got the referendum funds in June and began immediately hiring a new safety director and making some changes to our mental health (program).”
Niedermeyer said the school has instituted 40 safety measures since the Noblesville West Middle School shooting incident in May 2018, when a 13-year-old wounded teacher Jason Seaman and student Ella Whistler. There are now full-time school resource officers in every school.
There also are 11 new social workers, which are in all the schools. More than 20 mental initiatives have recently been implemented and are available on the school website, noblesvilleschools.org. The safety measures are detailed on the website as well.
Videos of school leaders were presented to inform the audience of various initiatives, including the launching of a Noblesville Diversity Coalition Student Ambassador Team at the high school.
Niedermeyer said the district was pleased to settle its teachers’ contract with a two-year pact in October and were able to give teachers a significant raise.
“The raises we gave our teachers this year definitely make us more competitive in Hamilton County,” she said. “A 100 percent of the savings we received from reduced state pensions, we put that to teachers’ salaries this year, too. We are grateful to have a great relationship with our teachers. We admire and respect the great work they do for us every day and the commitment and tireless energy that they put in serving children.”
Niedermeyer said the district works hard to make sure it is a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars.
“We take this responsibility seriously and make sure we are managing your money very cautiously and very conservatively when it comes to spending,” Niedermeyer said.
Since 2009, when changes were made in state funding and property tax revenue, Noblesville Schools has lost $49.4 million in funds.
“We’ve lost almost $2 million to the private school voucher funding over the last three years,” Niedermeyer said. “That has significant impact on how we do business as public schools. Schools across Indiana have that challenge.”
In addition, Niedermeyer presented retiring Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear with a Noblesville Schools pin. Prior to becoming mayor, Ditslear was elected to three terms on the Noblesville School Board.
“He collaborated with the schools and Noblesville Police Dept. to bring resource officers into our schools,” Niedermeyer said. “He’s been a vocal supporter on the importance of public school funding and made testimonials for our referendums.”