The league of American Bicylists has named Bloomington a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community. The League is a non-profit bicycling advocacy organization. Its awards are are partially funded by the Trek Bicycle company. Every year the League gives out awards to communities that promote and support the use of bicycles by residents. Winners are ranked from the top with platinum awards, then gold, silver and bronze. Last year Bloomington received a silver award. This year, four communities were given the highest recognition. Bloomington was among 21 getting the gold medal. It was the only place in Indiana to do so. In 2003, Bloomington was the first community in Indiana to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community and continues to have the highest rating of any community in the state. This year’s award was in recognition of its efforts to improve conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.
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In a recent press release, Affordable Care Act (or ACA) volunteers of Monroe County announced a variety of upcoming events to help residents enroll or re-enroll in health coverage. The “CoverMonroe Project” will hold three different types of events to increase service to residents: Education and Enrollment Fairs that educate citizens about available options; Health Plan Forums to help support selecting the insurance plan that best meets family needs, and specific “Coverage Navigator” appointments for one-on-one help. Numerous events, some requiring an appointment, will be held between December 3rd and January 25th at the Monroe County Public Library (303 E. Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington), or at the library’s Ellettsville Branch at 600 West Temperance Street in Ellettsville. Open enrollment extends until February 15th, 2015. After that time, those failing to sign up for health insurance will face tax penalties that have doubled from last year.
The CoverMonroe Project is the key program of the ACA Volunteers of Monroe County Inc, a non-profit company dedicated to educating the community on the features of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The volunteer program is licensed by the Federal Government to provide direct advice and assistance in health coverage, working with ASPIN Health Navigators of Indianapolis, the City of Bloomington, IU Health Individual Solutions, Monroe County Public Library and the United Way of Monroe County in this effort.
Bloomington holds an above-average ranking in “LGBT Friendliness,” according to an Indiana Daily Student report on a recent evaluation by the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (or MEI). With a score of 67 out of 100, Bloomington was among five Indiana cities evaluated in research that covered a total of 84 million people. The MEI measures how cities support their LGBT communities, even if their state and federal governments do not. Points were awarded in categories that included nondiscrimination laws, relationship recognition, employment benefits and municipal services. While Bloomington scored very highly in most categories, it scored lower in the municipality-as-employer category. That category examines nondiscrimination in city employment, transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, city contraction nondiscrimination and equal benefits ordinances. Data compiled by the Human Rights MEI were sent to municipality leaderships in July to allow them to review their scores, and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
Three term Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan announced he will not seek reelection while on Indiana Newsdesk’s Ask the Mayor program yesterday. Candidates can declare their run for the May 5th, 2015 primary beginning in January.
Parents and community members in Stinesville are protesting what some say was the wrongful removal of an elementary school principal there. Six people spoke to the Richland Bean Blossom School Board about the issue at a meeting November 17th. The Board was technically considering a retirement and medical leave request from the principal, Bill Buxton. But speakers like Shannon Hall said the administration forced Buxton out.
Hall said that the administration did not consider the children, and essentially took the children’s voice away. She mentioned that Stinesville has very few people to stand up and represent them, and that Buxton had always stood up for the community.
Hall presented the Board with a petition she said had 190 signatures asking for Buxton’s reinstatement. Board President Dana Kerr said he couldn’t comment about the specifics of the case because it’s a personnel matter. Kerr asked the public to also constrain their comments as well.
Kerr interrupted speakers throughout the meeting when he thought their comments were inappropriate. One instance occurred after a man, who identified himself as the father of a former Stinesville Elementary teacher, began detailing events he said led to Buxton’s removal.
The man said he appreciated the Board’s policy about discussing personnel. But he continued a vague discussion about the issue anyway.
Chantz Horman spoke to the Board next. He voiced support for Buxton and criticized the Board for allowing the previous comments.
The Board did not discuss any details of the case. But they unanimously approved Buxton’s formal request for medical leave and retirement. Buxton submitted a formal statement, which Horman read aloud to the Board, in which Buxton stated, “Taking care of my health, and being able to spend quality time with my family is top priority.”
The Indiana University Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting of its Finance, Audit and Strategic Planning Committee tomorrow in Indianapolis to review a resolution to borrow money to finance a new Arts and Science Building at its Northwest campus in Gary and to pay for renovation work on Franklin Hall on the Bloomington campus. The renovation would allow Franklin to house the new IU Media School, which was created last year with the unification of the faculties of the School of Journalism, the Department of Communication and Culture, and the Department of Telecommunications. Under the merger, faculty from the School of Journalism at be moved Ernie Pyle Hall to Franklin Hall. The special trustee meeting is scheduled for 2:30 p.m on Wednesday, at the Lilly Corporate Center, 893 S. Delaware St., in Indianapolis. The loan will be structured in what the university calls student fee bonds, which are the standard vehicle, apart from philanthropic grants, for raising money for capital investments. Tomorrow’s meeting will also receive a report on university financial information for fiscal year 2013-14. An agenda for the meeting can be found on-line at the IU Trustees website.
Local public schools have received their grades from the state and, while the criteria used by the state for this evaluation have been much criticized, the Monroe County Community School Corporation is quite pleased with the results. The district received an A rating as a whole. Janice Berguson is Director of Secondary School for MCCSC, with responsibility for overseeing the school district’s response to the grades. She provides a breakdown of the individual school grades this year as well as last year’s in comparison.
Last year’s two F’s were given to Fairview and Highland Park elementary schools. This year Highland Park got a B while Fairview got another F, for the third year in a row. Following Fairview’s second F, the school’s administrators announced to the students that teachers, classes and programs would be substantially changed. When the parents found out, many responded by demanding cancellation of these changes and asked to be involved in developing any reform plans. This was followed by the appointment of a new principal from the Indianapolis school system. Berguson explains Fairview’s current track upon receiving yet another failing grade.
The state grading of schools is based on the collective summary of the performance of all the students in each school on the state mandated and administered ISTEP examinations. ISTEP exams are given to students each Spring. All students in grades 3 through 8 plus high school sophomores complete tests on-line in language arts and math. Additionally, students in grades 4 and 6 are tested in science, and students in grades 5 and 7 are tested in social studies. The test consists of two components: a written test, usually in March, and a multiple-choice test over the same subjects in April. Students are graded “did not pass”, “pass”, or “pass plus.” The cumulative results for particular schools are to be used by school administrators in determining pay, promotion, demotion and termination of teachers. The system has been controversial, with members of both political parties speaking out against it. The high stakes nature of the school evaluation process, the very narrow range of ISTEP indicators have been the source of criticism of both ISTEP and the A to F school grading program from educators, parents and experts on student evaluation.
Animal activists of the nonprofit organization FARM, Farm Animal Rights Movement, are in Bloomington today through Friday as part of their national 10 billion lives tour. Tour members offer a dollar to any person willing to watch a four minute long animal cruelty video. Angie Fitzgerald, the lead operator of the campaign, said she feels coming to college campuses is especially effective. The cruelty videos shown are a compilation of undercover documentation. Fitzgerald said they are chosen specifically to illustrate common and legal practices in the US.
The FARM van will be located on or near campus throughout this week.
Travelers on a number of roads in Monroe County should be aware that the I-69 Development Partners Team will create single-lane closures with flashing yellow arrows as efforts are made to verify the locations of existing utility facilities in preparation for future road construction. So far seven locations have been identified for inspection between November 10th and November 20th and during the hours from 9 AM to 3 PM. Drivers need to aware of work on That Road from State Rd. 37 to 1200 ft. east of State Rd. 37; on Tapp Rd from Danlyn Rd. to Deborah Drive; and on Maple Leaf Drive from the cul-de-sac to 200 ft. west of the cul-de-sac. Other closures include Oakleaf Drive from its cul-de-sac to 200 ft. west of the cul-de-sac; on Rex Grossman Blvd from Tapp Rd to Lake Drive; inTech Park Blvd from Tapp Road to Schamaltz Blvd; and finally on Barger Lane from Tapp Rd to 200 ft. North of Tapp Road. Definite dates for work at each location are not yet available. But the I-69 Development Partners Team, beyond these preliminary details, urges that drivers consider workers’ safety by moderating speeds and using caution in any single-lane closures that they encounter