County schools moving forward with technology
By Michael L. Jones, Superintendent,
Switzerland County School Corporation
2016 was a great year for the Switzerland County School Corporation. We finished the Jefferson-Craig Elementary Addition and were able to open in time for school to start in August. We expanded our dual-credit partnership with Ivy Tech while also adding an Industry Certified Welding program with Ivy Tech. We have been working hard to develop partnerships with regional industry and higher education.
We continued to move closer to our 1/1 student technology goal and were approved by the State Department of Education to begin offering E-Learning Days for our staff and students. These days enable many of our students to work independently from home or other sites via technology, while teachers and staff are able to have professional development opportunities. We hope to eventually be in a position to use E-Learning Days for snow make-up days.
We entered in to an agreement with Community Mental Health to have school based counselors in our elementary schools to work with at-risk students. We are currently applying for a grant through Lilly to offer more of these services.
Our students continue to enjoy success both in academics and in extra-curricular activities. Clubs such as the Business Professionals of America and FFA and Student Council excelled both statewide and nationally. Our Archery Team competed in state, national and world competitions. Many of our students excelled in sports, academic and fine art competitions. All of our schools have worked to offer activities and clubs to foster kindness and character growth throughout our student body. Friends of Rachel Clubs, work to encourage kindness, stop bullying and create a climate of caring throughout our schools.
We have received grants such as the 21st Century Learning Community Grant which will allow us to offer enrichment and remediation to our elementary students in an after school program scheduled this Fall. Watch for further information! We also recently received a grant to update our broadband networking throughout all of our buildings. This will be a great improvement as me move toward our 1/1 student technology goal.
I will be continuing my Superintendent in the Neighborhood Meetings throughout the year and invite you to join me as we take the schools to the community. We thank all of the Switzerland County Community for your support in 2016 and look forward to an even greater 2017!
Upgrading infrastructure a focus of 2016
By Josh South,
Switzerland County Commissioner
The Switzerland County Commissioner’s office had a busy year in 2016.
Starting off, 2016 was filled with trials and tribulations as question surrounded the ambulatory service in Switzerland County. January 1st 12:01 a.m. Switzerland County was running a contracted service with KDH out of the sheriff’s department, but it didn’t take long for the tenacity and hard work of Switzerland County citizens to prevail as a group of nearly 20 volunteers set forth to design and implement a new service. In April, Switzerland County Emergency Response was born.
Roads and bridges are always a focus in Switzerland County as our soil type and the many creeks and tributaries wreak havoc on local roads. Bridge #26, which is on Log Lick Road over Mill Creek, has had engineering work completed for major repairs. Permitting to make repairs on a number of roads such as Spring Branch and Markland Pike have been submitted and will begin work early in 2017. We completed another successful season of Chip and Seal which was completed without issue.
If there was a theme for 2016, infrastructure was it!
Our aging buildings needed a little TLC and the commissioner’s office decided to focus its efforts on solving many of the long time issues at several of the buildings, such as the Jail, Nurse Managed Clinic, Courthouse, and Jack Sullivan Center. New heating and cooling systems were installed at the Jail, Nurse Managed Clinic, and Courthouse – solving issues of over and under heating and cooling that has existed for many years. A new roof was installed at the courthouse solving leakage issues while several repairs were made to solve water issues at the Jack Sullivan Center. The courthouse also received new interior paint in several rooms and commons areas and carpets were cleaned and replaced as needed.
As for 2017, we are only a few days into it and we are already hitting the ground running:
• Roads: Switzerland County will continue the chip and seal program, but in addition, we will also begin budgeting to perform asphalt replacement. Although chip and seal is a cost effective measure for road maintenance, it is not a replacement for traditional asphalt. It is simply a stop gap to provide additional years without full replacement. Switzerland County has also begun to develop a road asset and maintenance plan that will allow additional grant funding and will be executed started in 2017.
• Bridges: Bridge rehab work for Bridge #35 on Quercus Grove Road is scheduled as well as a replacement on Bridge #8 on Pendleton Run is likely.
• Equipment: The equipment at the highway department is aging quickly as the wear and tear on the equipment is considerable. In 2017, we will continue to replace broken and aging equipment such as graders, trucks and mowers. We plan to start an equipment replacement schedule so that the investment can be spread out and budgeted instead of a potential large investment all at once.
• Infrastructure/Buildings: We will continue to invest in the buildings that we have in Switzerland County. In 2017, Switzerland County buildings will be replacing all lighting in the buildings with energy efficient LED lighting. The investment is over $120,000 investment but due to rebates the cost to the county is a little over $25,000. Due to energy savings, it is projected to save the county approximately $15,000/year. We will also be examining water issues in the courthouse as well as potentially a new boiler as the age of equipment is past it’s life cycle.