Brownstown schools planning fair booth



Brownstown Central Community School Corp. Superintendent Tim Taylor has been asked several times what he has done this summer.

His answer every time?

“A lot,” he said.

While summer is a break between two school years for students and staff, Taylor and the administration office staff stay busy preparing for everyone’s return.

Brownstown made it through the unprecedented 2020-21 school year with the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, Taylor and company are ready for some normalcy as the first student day arrives Aug. 6.

Before that, the corporation will be sharing what all it has going on with the community and beyond at its Jackson County Fair booth.

School personnel will be manning a booth at the county’s largest event next week, handing out calendar magnets and balloons and mingling with visitors. It will be set up in Building 1 next to the fair office at the fairgrounds in Brownstown.

“It’s just a chance to get out there and kind of press the flesh and meet people and talk about the good things we’re doing,” Taylor said. “We have a lot going on. I really appreciate everyone’s effort right now with so much going on. … It has been busy around here.”

Parents stopping by the fair booth also will have an opportunity to sign their child up for a new after-school program for elementary and middle school students.

In late May, Brownstown learned it was among 110 recipients of the Indiana Department of Education’s new Student Learning Recovery Grant Program funding, which will help students recover from learning loss due to the pandemic.

Created by House Enrolled Act 1008, the program allocates $150 million to accelerate learning partnerships to support students across all grades with a focus on partnerships between community organizations and schools.

Brownstown partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour in applying for the grant and was awarded $911,447.39.

Club Executive Director Ryon Wheeler said he had talked to Brownstown administrators in recent years about what might be needed for after-school programming, but the timing wasn’t right.

“With House Bill 1008 coming out, Tim contacted me and said, ‘Hey, can we make something happen?’ and we said, ‘Let’s see what we can do,’” Wheeler said.

During the pandemic, the Seymour club remained open to help kids with eLearning and launched a club in Jennings County.

“Boys and Girls Club has a rich history of working in schools across the state with their Indiana Kids program,” Wheeler said. “We know that child care is an issue in this community. We know that quality after-school programming is an issue to be affordable. Boys and Girls Club has done this for 75 years. Why not work together?”

Brownstown’s funding is for two school years worth of after-school programming and summer programs in 2022 and 2023. The goal is to serve 200 kids — 100 at each school.

“Our focus is going to be reading and math, but we’re going to be doing it in a fun manner,” Wheeler said. “It’s not going to be sitting down looking at a whiteboard teaching and seeing what’s going on. It’s going to be playing kickball, and if you get out, here’s a flash card, here’s a sight word, here’s something you have to do to keep kids going.”

Wheeler said the program will start on the first day of school, and intensive programming will ramp up after Labor Day. It will go until 6 p.m. each school day.

“The best part is we’re going to be operating out of the schools, so the kids don’t have to find transportation to us,” he said. “We’ve got written in the grant $30,000 a year transportation costs, so if the kids need help getting transported home, we can try to figure that out, too. I think it’s really going to be a game changer for kids.”

Around $782,000 of the funding will go toward hiring 15 full- and part-time staff members to help students. Wheeler said the hiring process will ramp up soon.

“These are going to be high-paying, quality jobs,” he said. “The minimum rate is $15 an hour. We will be working to get quality folks. We hope to get teachers, and we hope to get some of your instructional assistants to just bridge the gap.”

Supplies and equipment will take up $25,000 of the funding, and $50,000 is for professional development for teachers through BloomBoard.

“Teachers will have the opportunity to participate in online professional development and microcredentialing through BloomBoard focused on learning recovery and social emotional learning,” Taylor said. “These skills will allow them to better meet the needs of our students.”

If the program goes as planned, Wheeler said they could apply for a four-year grant to keep the after-school offering going.

“That’s the cart before the horse, but we’re not just looking at this two years, let’s get in and out,” he said. “We want to see if we can keep this partnership going.”

Also during this year’s county fair, Brownstown Central Fellowship of Christian Athletes will have a booth in Exhibit Building 3.

The group stocks and maintains the Shed for You community building in the town parking lot along West Walnut Street that has food and other necessities for people to take any time. Donations can be dropped off at any time, too.

The fair booth will have information regarding food donations and pictures of FCA activities.

School board President Scott Shade, whose wife, Jennifer, is the BCHS FCA adviser, said students have continued to work all summer to unload trucks and stock the shed with food.

“All of the athletic teams, they all jump in cars and come over to help, and it’s a really good thing to see,” he said. “It has been great.”

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The Jackson County Fair starts Sunday and runs through July 31 at the fairgrounds, 476 E. County Road 100S, Brownstown.

Brownstown Central Community School Corp. will have a booth in Building 1 next to the office, and Brownstown Central Fellowship of Christian Athletes will have a booth in Exhibit Building 3 near the grandstand.


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