This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

School Board and County Council

On Tuesday the Rensselaer School Board held an early meeting so some members could attend the County Council meeting. There was a presentation on the preschool program that began several years ago. It has gradually grown and now has three classes. There is a fee of $60 per week with a reduced fee for those who qualify for free lunches. There will be more expansion in the future if the state provides funding. I get the impression that the demand for this comes largely from working mothers.

To comply with Indiana law the meeting had a public hearing on the contract for the new superintendent, Mr Craig, who will soon be taking over. There were no comments.

In reviewing some financing challenges caused largely by red tape, the superintendent noted that over the past decade the enrollment has declined by about 200 students though this year it is up by 16. Further, the smallest grades are the lowest grades. Grades one and three have only 100 students, so as that cohort moves through the system, the middle and high school will see drops in their enrollment. The assessed valuation had risen by about 25% from 2010 to 2015 as a result of rising farm land values but has stabilized this past year as rising business and home values offset a decline in the value of farm land.

Two hours later the County Council met for their monthly meeting. They approved budgets of the Airport Authority, The Iroquois Conservancy District, the Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District, and the Rensselaer Central School Corporations. There was brief discussion of the school corporation, with a note from the superintendent that Rensselaer imports 47 students from outside the district and exports 18. He also noted that there was a teacher shortage, which an economist might note is a feature of licensing, not a bug.

Additional appropriations were made for the Sheriff and the Surveyor and some small transfers were approved. The Council also approved a property purchase agreement for the strip of land on the west side of the Fairgrounds that the Fairgrounds has leased for many years and used for parking.

Mention was made of the RCHS Soil Judging Team that won a state competition in the past week and will be going on to a national competition.

I finally got out of Rensselaer and snapped a picture of the grain pile at Pleasant Ridge. With many fields still to be harvested, it should be an awesome pile in a couple more weeks.

Also, the old elm across from the Post Office is now gone and also the ash tree that was behind it. The demise of the elm came from efforts to help it. Sometimes in life when we try to make things better, we actually make them worse. It is something to be aware of. Good intentions do not necessarily result in good results, something that economists study all the time.

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