Chamber Names Indiana’s ‘Best Buy’ Schools

Chamber officials are traveling the state today (and tomorrow) recognizing the schools that warranted our "Best Buy" label this year. See below for a description of the award and this year’s honorees (and view the full report here):

For 2009, 135 public high schools were designated as a "best buy" for giving taxpayers the most value for their money.  Two methods determined this honor. A school was named a best buy if it had a quality index above the state median and revenues below the statewide median of $10,179 per student. The second method was by having a quality index ranking that was 20% higher than the school’s revenue ranking.

In addition, from the best buy group, 26 high schools were given the "honor roll" distinction for excelling academically despite having at-risk student demographics above the statewide median. For their exemplary efforts, the top five schools from the best buy and honor roll lists were then selected as "head of the class" members.

The 2009 "head of the class" selections are:

– Adams Central High School in Monroe (Adams County);
– Forest Park Jr.-Sr. High School in Ferdinand (Dubois County);
– North Central High School in Indianapolis (Marion County);
– Northwestern High School in Kokomo (Howard County);
– Plainfield High School (Hendricks County);
– Plymouth High School (Marshall County);
– Signature School in Evansville (Vanderburgh County).
– South Adams Jr.-Sr. High School in Berne (Adams County);
– Triton Jr.-Sr. High School in Bourbon (Marshall County); and
– Warsaw Community High School (Kosciusko County).

Present an Award; Accept the Boos

Over the last two days, the Indiana Chamber visited eight of the 10 Head of the Class schools identified in the annual Indiana’s Best Buys report. (Mother Nature interfered with two trips scheduled for Wednesday).

Chamber education expert Derek Redelman gets the road warrior award for a Tuesday itinerary that took him to Signature School in Evansville, nearby Castle and across the southern part of the state to North Harrison. President Kevin Brinegar stayed closer to home with North Central (Indianapolis) and Hamilton Southeastern presentations.

I ended up with a Batesville-Monroe Central doubleheader — both schools I had visited under different circumstances. For Monroe Central in Parker City, it was covering high school basketball games as part of my sportswriting role prior to coming to the Chamber. I was able to share a few basketball tales and names from the past with the current staff.

Batesville, though, is where things were most interesting. While I was born a mere minute away from the town’s high school at the local hospital, the students gathered for the announcement focused on the fact that I went to school at rival East Central. They expressed their vocal displeasure, but I won them back by telling them their school earned a majority of the basketball victories in matchups between their Bulldogs and my Trojans during my prep days.

Another note: First-year Batesville Principal Tim Stephens deserves kudos as he was the leader at Hauser (a Best Buy honoree each of the last two years). While the report measures high school performance, Stephens pointed out that it is really an award for the entire district.

Rounding out the top 10 are Center Grove and Rushville. Congratulations to all.

View current and past Best Buys reports, along with this year’s press release.