Dr. Rich Arkanoff
On behalf of the Center Grove Board of School Trustees, administration, faculty, and support staff, we would like to welcome everyone back to school on August 6, 2019! We've compiled links to supply lists, immunization requirements, dates for Back-To-School Nights, book and lunch fees, and much more on this site. Just click on the navigation to view information for Elementary, Middle, and High School students.
We have been counting down the months and days to the 2019-20 school year for almost two years as we eagerly await the opening of our sixth elementary school, Walnut Grove. This school has been carefully designed to meet the learning needs of our current students, includes safety technology to protect our students, while providing the vision and flexibility we will need for future students. We invite you to an open house and dedication for Walnut Grove on Saturday, August 3 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Thanks to our committment to providing fiscal oversight of your tax dollars, construction of this school was funded without impacting the tax rate for White River Township taxpayers.
While Center Grove’s core mission is to educate the nearly 8,500 students we serve, we must also keep those students safe while they are in our care. We are proud of the recent investments in safety and security. We have added School Resource Officers, School Safety Officers, and security cameras in buildings and on school buses. We’ve also made investments in our buildings to secure vestibules and developed procedures for access to our buildings, ensuring safety and security continue to be priorities with all of our teachers, staff, and administrators.
The recent school tragedies in our country from Colorado to Florida to nearby Noblesville and Richmond, Indiana, have led us to scrutinize even more deeply the safety and security measures we have in place. In 2018, we commissioned the Safe Havens International group to conduct a thorough audit of safety and security throughout all school facilities. They found several things Center Grove is doing well, along with recommendations for improvement. Next, we surveyed our community via Thought Exchange to hear what our parents, staff, and community members wanted to see in our schools to improve safety and security, and provide mental health support for our students. The needs identified by Safe Havens and identified in our community survey aligned into three main areas: Live Monitoring, Fast Response/Deterrents, and Mental Health & Classroom/Teacher Supports.
The Center Grove Board of School Trustees and Administration has worked diligently for the last decade to fund building and other projects while keeping the tax rate flat. We have also provided pay increases to our teachers and staff. That’s even more impressive when you realize Center Grove is consistently among the lowest funded school districts in the state. In 2018, Center Grove’s funding per student was 276th out of 289 school districts from state government sources. We are also fortunate that we have not had to deal with substantial tax cap losses. But as our home values continue to increase, we estimate we will lose just over $12 million in financial support in the next eight years because of state funding policies.
The Board and our leadership team have discussed the importance of investing in the areas identified by the Safe Havens Safety Audit and the Thought Exchange survey. As you may know, state law restricts how schools can spend the money in each of their funds. We do not want to wait and hope that we will be able to fit these needed improvements into our budget over the next 5, 10, or 15 years. We want to make these investments as soon as possible, so that the students we have right now will immediately benefit from them. For the average Center Grove homeowner, the cost would be less than $10 per month. Please note that Franklin Community Schools and Clark-Pleasant Schools have approved referendums to support their students.
To make these investments, the Board has voted to place a referendum on the November 5th ballot that, if approved, would provide 11.5 cents per $100 in assessed value to support our schools. The referendum would establish a new, separate fund from which Center Grove could pay for safety, security, and mental health/classroom support investments.
Please know that the decision to seek a referendum is not a decision that our school leadership came to quickly. My team and I have spent months reviewing the recommendations from the Safe Havens International Safety Audit and the thoughts shared through our community survey. We have revised our list of priorities to include only the investments that are most important to keep the tax levy as low as possible. We have developed a website with information in an effort to provide information that is both transparent and thorough to help you make well-informed decisions at centergrove.k12.in.us/SaferCG.
Keeping our students safe is a tremendous responsibility in the world in which we now live. It is a responsibility I take very personally as your superintendent and the parent of two children who attend Center Grove Schools. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions and additional recommendations.
We appreciate the extraordinary partnership we share with our parents and residents of our community as we work to provide exceptional educational experiences for our students. We are looking forward to a great 2019-20 school year!
Richard A. Arkanoff, Ed.D.
Center Grove Community School Corporation