Richmond Community Schools addressed a variety of topics at its April 26 board meeting, including an update on its new STEAM Academy, helping kids impacted by trauma, and a $60,000 contract for strategic planning. 

STEAM Academy: All student spots are filled in the new program for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. A second fifth-grade class was opened, with one each for grades 6-8. A few students are on the waiting list. All 19 students who applied for STEAM from the dissolving Hibberd academy were approved; eight did not apply. Fifteen students applied to return to RCS for the academy. The board approved a professional services agreement with LWC in Richmond for Hibberd renovations to accommodate STEAM. 

Trauma intervention: District employees will be trained in Trust-Based Relational Intervention to build relationships with students who’ve experienced trauma and help them make academic gains. It’s for all employees, not just teachers. Wayne County’s other public districts recently trained staff in TBRI through United Way funding. 

Strategic planning: The board approved a $60,000 proposal from Equitable Education Solutions to help facilitate progress toward district strategic planning. The company will provide research and produce videos to build stakeholder and external support.

Technology: A new organizational structure including personnel recommendations was approved to meet increased needs and “promote efficiency, communication, decision-making and overall employee satisfaction” and yield a net savings in expenses. 

Registration: Families now can enroll kids in any grade for 2023-2024 on RCS’ website. RCS already has a waiting list for preschool. Citing the importance of early education, Board Secretary Kristen Brunton said the district needs to address how it can adjust to accommodate a larger number of preschoolers. 

Waiver day: Because school was closed for four days due to the industrial fire, Indiana Department of Education waived three instructional days and added one asynchronous instructional day. Instead of adding a day to the end of school, students will complete assignments. 

Testing: Two second-graders, Tre Wright and Ella Sweet, earned a perfect score on their iRead tests. 

Food service: The board renewed its agreement with Chartwells. 

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A version of this article appeared in the May 3 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.