Superintendent’s Corner: Back to school Q&A

By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist

We are counting down the days until the first day of school.

As you prepare for the new school year, I’d like to provide answers to some of our frequently asked questions.

Additionally, please plan to visit the Brown County Schools booth at the Brown County 4-H Fair, where our team of administrators and school board members will be available to answer questions. We will have school calendars, supply lists, free pencils and a sweet treat for all who stop by and say hello.

Q: When does school start?

A: The first student day is Wednesday, Aug. 9. Teachers and staff will report Monday, Aug. 7.

Q: How do I register my student for school?

A: Registration for Brown County High School students is Tuesday, Aug. 1 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday, Aug. 2 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County Junior High School students can register from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2. If you are new to Brown County Schools and have a student who attends preschool through sixth grade, please contact the school building where your child will attend to make an appointment for registration and a tour of the school.

Q: What is the address for the new website?

A: Brown County Schools transitioned to a new website at the end of last school year. The website is www.browncountyschools.com. There is a lot of information on our website. The website is easy to navigate, but if you are having any issues, please contact Director of Technology David Phelps, who will be happy to assist you. His email address is dphelps@browncountyschools.com.

Q: How do I apply for free/reduced-price lunch benefits and assistance with textbook rental?

A: Paper applications will be available in registration packets for families to complete and there is also an easy to use online application option located under the Food Services tab on the Brown County Schools website.

Q: Where can I go to find a copy of the school breakfast and lunch menus?

A: The Brown County Schools website has all of the menus for breakfast and lunch posted under the Food Services tab.

Q: With the new school year ready to begin, what piece of advice would you give parents to help them get off to a successful start?

A: I have several suggestions for this question. First, try to establish a realistic schedule for your family. The summer is a wonderful time to have later bedtimes paired with sleeping in, however, school hours should be established at least a week before school starts. Try to stick with earlier bedtimes so that the transition to the school morning isn’t such a shock. Second, develop a partnership with your child’s teacher(s). We have an incredibly talented team of educators who care very deeply about the well-being of your child. When questions arise, contact your child’s teacher. They will be happy to work with you to find resolution to your child’s needs. Third, talk positively to your child about their education and their school day. When our parents and caregivers communicate to their children that education is important, this translates positively in student achievement. Celebrate successes with your children and let them know that mistakes are simply opportunities for learning how to do better.

Q: I want to become more involved in my child’s school. How do I do this?

A: We have several opportunities for parents and caregivers to become more involved in school activities. Our elementary, intermediate and junior high schools all have a Parent Teacher Organization or a Parent Council. These are active groups of parents and educators who work together to provide incredible opportunities for boys and girls both during and outside of the school day. As well, there are opportunities to volunteer in your child’s school building. Please reach out to the building principal and let them know of your interest in PTO, PTO Council or volunteer activities. We will put you to work!

Q: How can I get my child involved in athletics programs or other extra-curricular activities?

A: Greg Pagnard is the athletics director at Brown County Intermediate School, Gavin Steele is the athletic director at Brown County Junior High School and Mark Bruner is the athletics director at Brown County High School. They are happy to help with any questions you may have about athletics programming. Contact your school and ask to speak with one of these leaders of our student-athletes. In addition to athletics, we have incredible extracurricular opportunities available in music, theater and the arts. We have academic teams where students compete in statewide competitions. Brown County Schools identifies directors and/or coaches for these additional extra-curricular opportunities. Contact your child’s teacher, principals or school office to learn more about these incredibly engaging activities.

Q: My student is homeschooled, but I am interested in having him take a class or two at Brown County Schools. Is this possible?

A: Yes! We would love to talk to you more about the ways in which you can develop a hybrid schedule of courses where your child is enrolled in the courses for which you have an interest. We will absolutely respect your desire to homeschool in other areas while working together to open doors for opportunities that might not be possible in your programming.

Q: How can I find out about activities that are taking place across the school district?

A: The Brown County Schools website has a calendar tab that identifies the various activities that are taking place in our schools. We have several social media platforms that are linked on the Brown County Schools website where we enjoy celebrating success stories from our students and team members. The Brown County Democrat is also an excellent resource.

Q: What is the role of the Board of School Trustees and when do they meet?

A: School boards, elected by their communities, represent the community’s beliefs and values. The National School Boards Association writes, “The school board represents the public’s voice in public education, providing citizen governance for what the public schools need and what the community wants. Your school board is your community’s education watchdog, ensuring that taxpayers get the most for their tax dollars.” Our school board meets on the first and third Thursday of the month in The Goldberg Room at Brown County High School. We invite you to attend.

Q: My child doesn’t live in the Brown County Schools district, can he/she attend one of the schools in the district?

A: Yes! Brown County Schools is an open transfer district; therefore, students are able to attend schools in our district if the grade level has not met an established capacity. If you are interested in attending Brown County Schools, please contact the building where your student would like to attend and we will start the enrollment process.

We are looking forward to another successful school year and appreciate the support from our community as we welcome the boys and girls back to school Aug. 9.

Laura Hammack is superintendent of Brown County schools. She can be reached at 812-988-6601 or lhammack@browncountyschools.com.

Book fees

Fees for textbook rental, non-permanent texts such as workbooks, and course costs have decreased from last school year. They are as follows:

Kindergarten: $95.82

First: $91.04

Second: $91.04

Third: $96.64

Fourth: $96.64

Fifth: $105.96

Sixth: $106.20

Fees will not be collected at school open houses or during registration as has been done in the past. They will be collected after statements have been sent home.

Credit and debit card payments will be accepted through eFunds for schools. A link can be found at BrownCountySchools.com.

Junior high school and high school book fees are based on the classes each student takes and will be collected after statements have been sent during the school year.

Bus routes

Brown County School Bus Routes for the 2017-18 school year are as follows:

SPRUNICA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Route 1: Michelle Ashmore

Route 2: Jennifer Thomas

Route 3: Tom Cook

Route 4: Tim Thomas

Route 5: Dan Catt

Route 6: Jeanette Graves

Route 7: Unknown at press time. Loyd Wagler will be the contractor.

Route 8: Mark Henderson

Route 9: Lisa Miller

Route 10: Jackie Arnold

Route 11: Tracy Brester

Route 12: Jackie Wagler

Route 13: Kim Morgan

Route 14: Rhonda Smoot

Route 15: Steve Prosch

HELMSBURG ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Route 16: Pam Wagler

Route 17: Stacy Sims

Route 18: Gina Wagler

Route 19: Jeff Oaldon

Route 20: Kristy Fleetwood

Route 21: Kelly Eby

Route 22: Denise Broussard

Route 23: Laura Mercer

Route 24: Bruce Shand

Route 25: Jimmy Jackson

Route 26: Dede Parry

Route 27: Joey Dallas

Route 28: Alma Wilkerson-Egan

VAN BUREN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Route 29: Sandra Cox

Route 30: Kenny Roberts

Route 31: Tina Payton

Route 32: Gayle Roberts

Route 33: Lenora Methena

Route 34: Beni Clevenger

Route 35: Leo Emerson

Route 36: Brent Stinson

Route 37: Drew Minett

Route 38: Cheryl Wyman

Route 39: Sarah Payton

Route 40: Casie Gray

BROWN COUNTY SCHOOL CORPORATION SPECIAL NEEDS DRIVERS

Rebecca Bell, Leanna Bond, Marvin Brock, Leslie Dras, Tracy Fletcher, Debra Hogue, Marikay Pritchard, Chelsea Tafur, Kaeley Taylor, Sandra Taylor, Mark Smith

Immunizations

Indiana law requires children enrolled in public schools to be immunized against a list of diseases.

Students are expected to have all required immunizations before the first day of school. Documentation can be submitted in the form of a physician’s certificate, records from another school system or from the health department that show the month, day and year of each dose.

For children who have delayed immunizations, refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention catchup immunization schedule at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/catchup.html.

If you need to update immunizations, contact your health care provider or the Brown County Health Department (812-988-2255) to schedule an appointment. To have immunizations done through the health department, you must have no insurance coverage, have insurance that does not cover immunizations or have Medicaid.

Students entering kindergarten must have a current physical exam. Forms documenting physicals and immunizations can be sent to school at any time and are available from the schools and administration office.

Doses needed:

Ages 3 to 5 — Three hepatitis B, four DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), three polio, one MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), one varicella.

Kindergarten to third grade — Three hepatitis B, five DTaP, four polio, two MMR, two varicella, two hepatitis A.

Fourth to fifth grades — Three hepatitis B, five DTaP, four polio, two MMR, two varicella, two hepatitis A.

Sixth to 11th grades — Three hepatitis B, five DTaP, four polio, two hepatitis A, two MMR, two varicella, one Tdap (tetanus and pertussis), one MCV4 (meningococcal conjugate).

12th grade — Three hepatitis B, five DTaP, four polio, two hepatitis A, two MMR, two varicella, one Tdap, two MCV4, two MenB.

Important dates

Tuesday, Aug. 1

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registration, locker assignment and schedule pickup opportunity for junior high and high school students

Wednesday, Aug. 2

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration, locker assignment and schedule pickup opportunity for junior high and high school students

Monday, Aug. 7

5 to 6 p.m. Open houses at elementary schools

6 to 7 p.m. Open house at the intermediate school

Wednesday, Aug. 9

First day of school for all students

5 to 6 p.m. Open house at junior high

5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Open house at high school

Lunch information

Brown County Schools charges students $1.75 for breakfast and $2.85 for lunch. The cost of milk is 50 cents.

All schools participate in the national school breakfast and lunch programs. Children from households that meet federal income guidelines are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Reduced-rate meals cost 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch.

Applications for these programs can be obtained from the school offices at any time during the school year. Information on applications may be verified by district officials at any time.

Schools encourage parents to fill out free and reduced-price meal applications. They also allow for reduced book fees. Parents are now able to apply for free or reduced-price meals on the Brown County Schools website under BCS Food Services.

Call the food service office at 812-988-5423 to confirm your family’s approval status or to ask questions.

For more information about online lunch payments and food services, visit Brown CountySchools.com/foodservices.

Preschool

All three Brown County elementary schools — Helmsburg, Sprunica and Van Buren — offer preschool classes to 3- to 5-year-olds.

Morning and afternoon sessions (three hours long) are offered, or students can attend all day. Fees are $12 per half-day or $25 per full-day. Students must attend at least three sessions (half-days) per week.

An additional $1 supervisory fee per day is charged for half-day students who participate in the school lunch program.

A $25, nonrefundable preschool family literacy fee will be collected upon enrollment.

A limited number of preschool scholarships are available to eligible students. Contact your building principal for details.

Busing is available only for special education preschoolers. Parents of general education students must take them to and from school.

Payments are made weekly. Payments in advance are welcome and encouraged. Cash or check payments (to Brown County Schools) can be made to the school secretary. Credit card payments can be made through eFunds; visit BrownCountySchools.com to log in.

Enrollment forms are available at www.BrownCountySchools.com. Use the elementary school form. If a student needs to be evaluated for special education services, note that request when registering.

For more information, call your elementary school.

Registration information

Elementaries and intermediate school

Students new to the district are encouraged to complete the new-student enrollment packet, available at www.BrownCountySchools.com, at each school and in the administration office.

Contact your school to arrange a time to tour the building and enroll your student.

Junior high

Students already enrolled at Brown County Junior High School can register from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, or from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2. Students will get their schedules and locker assignments then.

New students need to call 812-988-6605 for an appointment.

Junior high school athletes are asked to pay the sports fee of $20, along with a transportation fee of $20, during registration. In return, they receive a pass that entitles them to attend all BCJHS home sports events for free. Athletics fee checks should be made out to “BCJHS Athletics.” Athletes not planning to participate until the winter or spring are encouraged to pay fees early. Transportation fees need to be paid separately with checks made to “Brown County Schools.”

High school

Returning Brown County High School students are to pick up schedules and locker assignments between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, or 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2.

Each athlete must pay a yearly activity fee of $30 and a corporation transportation fee of $20. All of those dollars are returned to the athletes in the form of uniforms, awards, first-aid supplies, etc. Athletes who fail to pay by the established deadline will not be able to compete until they have paid. An all-sports pass will be issued to each athlete when the fee is collected. Passes are not valid at Brown County Junior High School, WIC championships and IHSAA tournament events.

For high school students new to the Brown County area:

The guidance office is open Wednesdays throughout the summer. Call 812-988-5407 for an appointment.

The following information will be needed to register: Proof of physical address (no P.O. box; a phone bill, utility bill or other bill showing home address is needed); custody agreement, if applicable; health records; ECA test score; former school phone and fax numbers; transcripts; withdrawal grades.

2017-2018 school calendar

Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8

Teacher work days; no school

Wednesday, Aug. 9

First student day

Monday, Sept. 4

Labor Day; no school

Friday, Oct. 6

End of first nine-week grading period

Monday, Oct. 16

Beginning of second nine-week grading period

Monday, Oct. 9 to Friday, Oct. 13

Fall break; no school

Wednesday, Oct. 18

PSAT test administration

Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Friday, Nov. 24

Thanksgiving break; no school

Thursday, Dec. 21

End of first semester

Friday, Dec. 22

Teacher work day; no school

Friday, Dec. 22 to Monday, Jan. 8

Christmas break; no school

Monday, Jan. 8

Students return; beginning of second semester and third nine-week grading period

Monday, Jan. 15

Martin Luther King Jr. Day; no school

Monday, Feb. 19

Presidents Day; no school

Friday, March 9

End of third nine-week grading period

Monday, March 12

First day of fourth nine-week grading period

Monday, March 12 to Friday, March 16

Spring break; no school

Thursday, May 24

Last student day

Friday, May 25

Teacher work day. (Snow makeup day)

Monday, May 28

Memorial Day; no school

Tuesday, May 29 to Thursday, June 7

Snow makeup days

Friday, June 8

Evening, high school commencement

School hours

Helmsburg and Van Buren elementary schools

7:50 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.

Sprunica Elementary School

7:45 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.

Brown County Intermediate School

8:10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Brown County Junior High School

8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Brown County High School

8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.

School leaders

Main office

Superintendent: Laura Hammack

Office address: 357 E. Main St.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 38, Nashville, IN 47448

Phone: 812-988-6601

Brown County High School

Principal: Shane Killinger

Assistant principal: Angie Evans

Athletics director: Mark Bruner

Physical address: 235 Schoolhouse Lane

Mailing address: P.O. Box 68, Nashville, IN 47448

Main office: 812-988-6606

Guidance office: 812-988-5407

Athletics office: 812-988-5408

Brown County Junior High School

Principal: Brian Garman

Assistant principal/athletics director: Gavin Steele

Physical address: 95 Schoolhouse Lane

Mailing address: P.O. Box 578, Nashville, IN 47448

Phone: 812-988-6605

Brown County Intermediate School

Principal: Trent Austin

Assistant principal: Greg Pagnard

Physical address: 260 Schoolhouse Lane

Mailing address: P.O. Box 157, Nashville, IN 47448

Phone: 812-988-6607

Helmsburg Elementary School

Principal: Kelli Bruner

Address: 5378 Helmsburg School Road, Morgantown, IN 46160 (in Helmsburg)

Phone: 812-988-6651

Sprunica Elementary

Principal: Abbie Oliver

Address: 3611 Sprunica Road, Nineveh, IN 46164 (in Brown County)

Phone: 812-988-6625

Van Buren Elementary School

Principal: Christine Wrightsman

Address: 4045 State Road 135 South, Nashville, IN 47448

Phone: 812-988-6658

Corporation directors

Food service: Jason Kirchhofer

Maintenance: Tom Ferry

Student learning: Deborah Harman

Student services: Alan Kosinski

Technology: David Phelps

Transportation: Roger Cline

School board

President: Stephanie Kritzer

Vice president: Judy Hardwick

Secretary: Carol Bowden

Members: Steve Miller Jr. and Marlene Barnett

The policy-making board for Brown County Schools is the board of school trustees. Administrators at the respective schools are in charge of day-to-day decisions.

Weather notifications

Information on weather-related school closings and delays can be accessed via the Brown County Schools website www.BrownCounty Schools.com.

Closings also will be posted on social media, local media and Skylert.

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.