Panther Corporation Newsletter

May 2020 Edition 3

GHS Graduation 2020 Plan For Our Panthers!

Griffith Public Schools has reviewed CDC guidelines provided by the Indiana Departrnent of Health, recommendations from the Indiana Department of Education, which strongly suggests a virtual ceremony, and our own safe practices currently in place and have created an in-person opportunity for our students to have a graduation. While this is not the traditional ceremony we would have liked to give our students, we have tried our best to make this a memorable event for all and with your adherence to our guidelines-we can all stay safe and celebrate our graduates.

We did not want to reschedule our event and wait because there is no guarantee that those ceremonies can or will take place due to the uncertainty of another increase/outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Lake County or amended stay at home orders. Also, we did not want to interfere with plans that students and their families may have in upcoming weeks that would prevent them from participating.

In addition to a graduation, our FIRST EVER Twilight Paws Parade celebrating our Graduates will occur at 7:00 pm in the evening of June 7, 2020 as well. Beginning at 6:30 pm - Graduates and their families will be provided updated information on parade route and where they will line up. Please stay tuned!

Parents...Cars may be decorated-display your graduate's name--get creative!!

Graduates will be led through our town with Police and Fire escorts starting at 7 pm.

We want to encourage our town to come out, still practicing social distancing, as they celebrate our students' accomplishments!

Read your letter from Mrs. Brenner for more information! Please direct any questions directly to Mrs. Brenner. Her email is the best way to contact her at this time. Thanks for your continued support and patience while Mrs. Brenner and her admin team have been busy organizing these events!


Let's Take A Moment to Thank Ms. Audrey Nash!

As the 2019/20 school year comes to an unusual close, so, too is the career of one of our finest teachers! Retirement marks the culmination of a career spent achieving success and impacting the lives of our students and their families!

Today, we celebrate and honor elementary teacher, Audrey Nash, who has been a teacher at Griffith Public Schools for the past 16 years.

Congratulations Audrey! Wishing you all the joy and happiness that this next chapter in life will bring for you! Thank you for your years of service!

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With Great Sadness...

It is with sincere condolences that we deliver the news of Zackery Hart- Darnell's passing suddenly on May 21st. Please continue to keep the family in your thoughts and prayers. Zack will be missed deeply. His simile will forever be remembered by staff and students alike.

Funeral Information:

White’s Funeral Home in Griffith
Friday, May 29th from 4pm-8pm. Funeral service begins at 7:30 p.m.
Space will be limited to 25 people at a time.

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Information Regarding iPads and Registration

Thank you for another wonderful school year! We have had some questions come our way, and the Technology Department would like to share the following:

  1. If you are not returning for the 2020/21 school year, please contact your building principal via email to make arrangements for the returning of iPads and ensuring all outstanding debts are paid in full.

  2. If you are returning for the 2020/21 school year, you will keep your iPad and please know that there will be communication in the near future on how to register for next year.

Kindergarten Registration for 2020-2021 school year

Welcome Kindergartners and families! We are excited to begin this next school year with each of you! Thank you for completing your online registration process. We also appreciate your patience during this unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic. Completion of your child’s Kindergarten Registration will take place on Thursday, June 4th from 10-12 and 1-3 pm in the following manner:

· If your last name is A-M your time slot will be from 10-12.

· If your last name is N-Z your time slot will be from 1-3pm.

· For families who cannot make above slots: June 9th from 4-6pm

· If you are unable to make any of the above slots please contact my secretary, Mrs. Jursic, on June 10th or 11th from 8-3. She can be reached at or 923-4488 to set up appointments.

As As you arrive, you will enter and proceed as if you are dropping off or picking up a student during the regular school year. Please follow cones and signage to the back of our school’s playground. Due to social distancing, you will need to remain in your vehicle. Please enclose the following documents in a plastic Ziploc bag:

Student documentation needed:

· Original birth certificate

· Custody agreement/court order if parents are separated/divorced

· Immunization records


Parent documentation needed:

· Valid IN driver’s license with current Griffith address

· Mortgage statement or current least (indicating terms of lease, address of lease property, name and phone number of lessor, name of the lessee and a listing of tenants-including children).

2 additional items needed (within last 2 months):

· Town of Griffith water bill

· Nipsco bill

· Telephone bill

· Bank Statement

· Pay stub with address

While documents are being copied, you will be asked to pull forward to fill out paperwork. Please bring a writing utensil with you.

Once items are verified, you are free to depart.

Thank you for your patience in this unusual Kindergarten Registration process!

We are looking forward to seeing you! Be well and safe!


Mrs. Jaros, Wadsworth Principal

Distribution of Student Belongings for Elementary Students

Our elementary staff would like to thank you for your support and patience as we worked together to provide students with the social emotional and academic support that they needed during to 2019-2020 school year.

On Monday, June 1, between the hours of 10-12, our staff is prepared to say farewell to students. Some elementary schools have designated times for distribution by last name. Please make sure to read the school's message. If questions, please email the principal

During this time, you may pick up pictures, medicine, and any other student items that were left behind. We will also, collect damaged iPads, the iPads of students that will not be returning in the Fall, library books, and hardback textbooks.

In an effort to follow social distancing guidelines, please adhere to the following procedures. Remain in your car at all times while in the car line. Make a poster with your child's/children's name and their teacher's name. Lastly, hold the sign up to your passenger window and staff will distribute items.

Can't wait to see you then!

LIVE Griffith Public Schools Board of School Trustees' Meetings

Griffith Public Schools Board of School Trustees and Mrs. Riise, Superintendent, value your comments and questions and want to continue being transparent, as well as provide current information. We will continue to LIVE stream for those who are unable to attend in person.

You can locate our board meetings utilizing the following link on Youtube:

If you were unable to watch May's board meeting LIVE, you can also locate May's board meeting at the link above and be able to still watch it.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Our June Griffith Public Schools Board of School Trustees' Board Meeting will contain the following agenda items:

a. Student Handbook for 2020/21 School Year

b. GHS Course Catalog for 2020/21 School Year

c. 2020/21 Textbook Fees

d. Registration Information

e. Transportation and Start/End Times

f. Performance Services Presentation (Facilities Capital Projects Plan)

g. COVID-19 and 2020/21 School Year - What Does It Look Like for Public Schools?

Tune in to hear the latest information!

FAQ Document on Griffith Public Schools' Website

As promised, we are committed to answering your questions regarding 2020 - 2025 Griffith's Promise, our five year Strategic Plan, as well as other questions you might have as a parent or community member.

Please find that the FAQ Document on Griffith's website contains the answers to the questions that have been asked by our parents. You can locate this FAQ document at the following link:

If you have any additional questions, please contact Mrs. Riise by email. She will be delighted to answer these and add the information to this document.


Griffith Public Schools want to take a moment to thank the following for assisting with our food packaging and deliveries:

Beth Nunez

Stephanie Copp

Jen Massey

Towina Nightingale

Diane Zurawski

Pam Kras

Fran Evans

Cindy Leber

Barb Lail

Diana Perez

Ann Marie Jaros

Ambre Cain

Diana Deleon

Keith Mitchell

Mike Kepchar

Brian Jennings

Dustin Nelson

Grayling Gordon

Nick Zivanovic

Brenda Konopasek

Amanda Moak

Jen Conlon

Neil Dimos

Tracy Whitman

Deb Smit

Tiffiny Ulman

Donna Plosonka

Shanna Gulley

Kathy Ruesken

Don McCarter and his wife

Robby Dragomer

Leah Dumezich

Christine Brenner

Marty Jarmula

Laurie Cain

Deanna Beck

Lauren Peak

If we left someone off the list, accept our apologies! Thank you for your continued service and devotion to ensuring our students are fed!

To Date: We have averaged 750 meals every Monday and Wednesday since our students have been at home. In addition, we have been assisting the YMCA in feeding their children who are present for childcare and summer programming.



Teachers, administrators, directors, classified staff, such as librarians, and our custodial/maintenance crew have been busy ensuring that the moves being made throughout the district and are being done without any issues. THANK YOU ALL!!!

In addition, our teachers are finishing up grades and the school year. They are currently collaborating and finalizing their work to ensure that our Quarter One curriculum in all subject areas are aligned and documented utilizing the same template. This is to ensure continuity and consistency across the grade level or subject matter. This is being done as some are packing and/or communicating to students as they finish their work for the year. We can't begin to thank the teachers for their dedication to the profession and our students!

I want to publicly thank our MS/HS administrators, Mrs. Brenner, Mrs. Whitman, and Mr. Jennings, for continuing to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate our seniors. Not only have they stopped by each senior home to provide them with a surprise and delight two weeks in a row, but you will notice paw prints with our senior names on our sidewalks surrounding the MS/HS campus. More names will be added as the weather clears. Please feel free to stop by and write a personal celebatory message with sidewalk chalk to each one of them. Remember social distancing please! In addition, these three administrators, along with Mrs. Leber and Mrs. Perez, surprised our Top 10 seniors with another surprise and delight today to honor their academic achievement during HS. Thank you all!

Financial Update

In regards to facilities, Performance Services has completed their assessment of our buildings to determine our next steps in the capital projects area. They will be presenting their findings to the board in June; however, they did share with us that at this time Wadsworth and the MS/HS will need immediate attention. Beiriger appears to be good for a period of time.

In regards to our Operations Fund, DUAB has determined that an additional assessment with Griffith Public Schools shall be conducted in May 2020. At this time, the district should be prepared to demonstrate a long-term plan that provides for positive and stable fund balances for the school. The plan should cover at least a five-year term or longer if necessary to arrive at a positive fund balances. Griffith Public Schools will be presenting our plan to DUAB in executive session in June 2020. Prior to our Executive Session with DUAB, our Board is tasked with finishing the long-term plan so that we can be ready for our presentation in June 2020.

In regards to State Funding, Governor Holcomb has stated the following:

"There is a $4 billion deficit due to the shut down in the state. At this time, Governor Holcomb is not willing to commit to 100% funding for schools.

In what is the first of what will likely be several efforts to curb state spending, Governor Holcomb directed state agencies to cut budgets by 15% in fiscal year 2021 because of large decreases to state revenue. Each agency is now required to submit a strategic plan by June 8 to show it will comply with the order. Holcomb also announced the state will not proceed with other planned expenditures, including higher education projects, deferred maintenance projects, and an investment in the Next Level Trails program.

This move comes after the State Budget Agency (“SBA”) announced state general fund revenues for April were nearly $1B short of projections. Holcomb said the SBA estimates show the state could face an even great loss of general fund revenue in the final 14 months of the biennium.

On Friday, Governor Holcomb released a press statement calling for a 15% budget reduction for all state agencies in 2021. This is not a 15% reduction in tuition support, as of yet. Districts were advised to plan ahead and assume funding cuts are coming.

THIS WILL HAVE AN EFFECT ON PUBLIC SCHOOLS, including Griffith Public Schools! Continue to stay tuned for more information as it comes available!


Transportation Update

Griffith Public Schools is excited to say that we have solved the bussing issue. These changes should alleviate parent concerns. Thank you parents for communicating your concerns with us! Here is the plan thus far:

a. We will not transport students all on the same bus.

b. As we looked at walking boundaries and the grade configurations, we made the decision to decrease the walking boundaries for Wadsworth and Beiriger so that more students are provided the opportunity to ride the busses; therefore, it is our hope to eliminate transportation barriers for our families.

c. In addition, we are continue to work on start/end times for the 2020/21 school year.

Again, thank you parents for communicating your concerns with us regarding having the same start and end times at the two elementary buildings!

NOTE: Please understand that this was part of the cost savings in the Operations Fund within our strategic plan; therefore, we will need to look at how to additionally cut funding in that area with this update.

2020/21 School Year...What Does It Look Like? What About After June 30th?

The Governor’s Office, Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration are diligently engaging various education stakeholders to issue clear guidance to schools, teachers, parents and students on how to safely reopen. The guidance will likely contain uniform guidelines covering topics such as operations, food - service, special education, and transportation. This guidance was originally planned to be released in July. However, the Governor’s administration and education stakeholders will release the guidance by early June to give schools and communities more runway to successfully execute the guidelines.

Executive Order 20 - 28 allows educational institutions to open for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research or performing essential functions provided that social distancing of six - feet per person is maintained to the greatest extend possible. Educational institutions that were previously closed and are reopening for these purposes only and must perform certain sanitary actions and provide disposable wipes so commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use. All buildings, facilities and grounds will remain closed for education and school - sponsored activities through June 30, 2020 , except for purposes allowed by executive orders.

On behalf of the administrative team, we want to do everything in our power to ensure that our school year begins with face to face instruction. We believe that the emotional toll from staying home has been significant for many of our students and their families. Our dilemma is that before we can make firm plans for getting back to school, we need to have more information from scientists regarding the risks of doing so. We know that only a relatively small percentage of COVID positive cases in USA are children in the 0-17 year old age group. Since the virus has spread in the country, it has been believed by many that our children who contract the virus are minimally impacted; however, scientists are still working on finalizing that determination. What is lacking is the data derived from a scientific sampling and/or analysis regarding severity of symptoms in our youth population in the USA. What would also be beneficial to our understanding is the widespread antibody testing. We are believe that more information from the state is coming!

As we get into the middle of June, we will provide more specifics regarding the drop off of books and the pick up of personal belongings. We will also be surveying parents in order to gather stakeholder opinions regarding our return to school plans. With the combination of state information and parental opinions, we will have a great plan in place for the fall.

Griffith Public Schools will continue to communicate the information as soon as it is shared with us! We appreciate your patience and understanding!

YMCA Update

YMCA would like to take this time to let you know information regarding the status of the Griffith Family YMCA. Their policy is to be as transparent as possible when there is news.

As many might have heard, Griffith Public Schools School Board approached the YMCA after deciding on restructuring and realigning their grade levels as well as closing a long-time elementary school in town. The School Board determined that Eldon Ready Elementary School would be closed beginning with school year 2020-21. Instead of letting the building go vacant, the School Board reached out to the YMCA to explore an expanded partnership. Together they explored the possibilities, and it became obvious that this partnership could have many benefits and opportunities for the kids and families in the community of Griffith.

Benefits at the Eldon Ready Site:

  • More efficient classroom set up
  • Ability to double program size
  • Secure Early Learning Center wing
  • Larger spaces
  • Additional fitness center equipment
  • Ability to serve more members
  • Stable gymnasium floor for great programming
  • Large outdoor area for sports, camp, and childcare activities
  • Classrooms available for STEAM classes
  • Classrooms available to open new programs for teen development
  • Preventing social isolation and obesity
  • Classrooms available to build strong leaders in YMCA University
  • Enhanced partnership with Griffith Public Schools
  • Safety Around Water program with GPS partnership

Over the past eight years, YMCA has worked with the Town of Griffith to lease space in the Franklin Center to house the YMCA. As YMCA continues to expand and offer more to the communities they serve, YMCA is faced with a number of building challenges at Franklin Center. Some of these challenges include: security for our childcare and youth programs with multiple tenants, stairwells, entry points, aging infrastructure and lack of space to expand. Childcare is a necessary service that working families need in this community. The YMCA is committed to continuing to fill the childcare gap as our state returns to normal everyday activities and functions.

YMCA is working with the Town of Griffith to address zoning variances. YMCA asks for your support! Please send all support correspondences to Jay Buckmaster, CEO of Crossroads YMCA at

The best choice is that Crossroads YMCA will be successful in obtaining the needed variances to move to the Eldon Ready Elementary Building. If YMCA is unable to achieve this success on the variances, YMCA will have to close the Griffith YMCA.



Summer Food Program feeds all students for free who are 18 years old and younger. The Griffith Public Schools is participating in the Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. Meals will be provided, at a first come, first serve basis, at the sites and times as follows:

Wadsworth Elementary School - June 1st through August 5th Monday / Wednesday

Breakfast/Lunch 10:30am – 12:00pm

Griffith YMCA June 1st through August 7th Monday Through Friday

Breakfast 8:00am – 8:30am / Lunch 11:00am – 11:30am

True Light Day Care – June 1st through August 7th Monday Through Friday

Breakfast 8:00am – 8:30am / Lunch 11:00am – 11:30am

Griffith High School – June 1st through August 5th Monday / Wednesday

Breakfast/Lunch 10:30am – 12:00pm

Park West – June 1st through August 5th – Monday / Wednesday

Breakfast/Lunch 10:30am – 12:00pm

If any questions, please email Mr. Joe Blissett at

Thank you!