HEDC “On the Road”

HEDC “On the Road” at Greenfield-Central Educational Services Center

HEDC held its March meeting ‘on the road’ at the Greenfield-Central Educational Services Center. Dr. Harold Olin welcomed our board to this new facility for Greenfield-Central School Corporation, which houses The Academy at Greenfield Central and the Cougar Cubs Preschool.

We asked Dr. Olin about the history behind the project, as well as as the connection between economic development and our community’s education system.

“Greenfield-Central was fortunate this past summer to be able to purchase the old city library that sits directly south of our high school,” Dr. Olin said. “This 17K square foot structure was built in the mid 80’s, but quickly became too small for the library’s needs.  A church bought the property in approximately 2006, and they occupied the site for the last decade.  When they decided to merge with another congregation in the county, the site became available for purchase.”

Olin says the school corporation had an immediate interest and purchased the property with three primary objectives in mind.

“First, we wanted a space in a close proximity to our high school that could be used as an “Alternative Education” site. This is what we now call The Academy at Greenfield-Central.  We are currently serving 53 high school juniors and seniors that want a different setting to finish their high school career.  In this setting, students attend either a 3 hour session in the morning or a 3 hour session in the afternoon.  Each of these 53 students has a little different story, but there are a lot of commonalities among this student body.  Many of them want to work for part of the day.  Some take classes in a local trade school for part of the day.  Others simply want a smaller, more intimate school experience with a lot of adult guidance and feedback.  The goal of the program is to keep students enrolled in school until they graduate, while also allowing students to attain some of their goals outside of Greenfield-Central.”

“We believe that we live in a great community,” Olin said. “Many of our students achieve accolades that are unparalleled in other central Indiana schools.  That being said, we have struggled with our graduation rate in the last decade.  We wanted to do something deliberately different to support the 15% of our high school students, who have annually been in jeopardy of dropping out.  We are confident that this intentional step will improve our end product.”

Olin says Greenfield schools achieved its highest graduation rate to date, 91%, last fall.

“The second objective in acquiring this property was to establish a preschool opportunity in the Greenfield area,” Olin says. “Through the county’s economic development efforts, we have repeatedly been told that the lack of licensed childcare is a deficiency that has halted some economic growth for Greenfield.  As a school corporation, we think we can be part of this solution.”

“In this new site, we opened a preschool this past January for the families of Greenfield-Central employees.  This preschool will eventually provide a lab opportunity for our high school students who want to work with children.  We have taught child development classes through our Family and Consumer Science (FACS) department for many years, though some of our students could not participate in true lab experiences if they did not have reliable transportation.  This obstacle has now been eliminated, because our high school FACS students can now simply walk across the parking lot to have this experience.  This preschool will be open to the general public starting in the fall.”

Because of the corporation’s third objective, HEDC was able to hold their meeting “on the road.”

“The corporation was looking for a space to conduct professional development for our staff.  We have approximately 300 certified employees  and a similar number of non-certified staff, who regularly need training to stay current in our craft.  Finding places to make this happen without interrupting the services we provide to students in our nine school buildings has been a challenge.  Now that we have this new space, we use it every week.  The board of school trustees even moved the board meetings to this site that is much more accessible and spacious.  We have hosted a handful of events for the public in the first few months, and we intend to rent the space for various events, because we can accommodate well over 150 people in the space.”

Olin says cooperation and partnerships within the community played a large role in the redevelopment of the site.

“The purchase of this site has been a huge asset for the corporation. I want to thank the City of Greenfield for assisting us in the quick turn-around of the facility. Their partnership allowed us to open the alternative school in a quick three month time period. I also want to thank one of our local developers, Lynn Greenwalt, for assisting us with the purchase by brokering the deal.  I would be remiss if I did not specifically mention our fantastic executive director, Skip Kuker, who assisted in ensuring that the right connections were made.  It is these relationships that are established around the Hancock Economic Development Council table that make business work in our county.”

For more information about Greenfield Central Schools, visit http://www.gcsc.k12.in.us/.

If you’d like to learn more about the opportunities in Hancock County, call HEDC at (317) 477-7241.