Oriole Advocates

Avon kids matter

April 4, 2017
by Karen Eglen

An Important Message From Our Superintendent, Dr. Hoernemann

go-back-gallery-for-we-need-your-help-FbVU9w-clipartFor those of you who were on break, we hope your first day back was a good one.  Since the legislative session has been in full swing, many of us have been carefully watching what is happening and how it may affect ACSC.  Unfortunately, the proposed K-12 budgets released by the House a couple of weeks ago and by the Senate (on March 30) are devastating to ACSC.  Despite all the work of the Oriole Advocates and many of you telling our story of efficiency and need, both proposed budgets are more negative for ACSC than for most other Hendricks County and Hamilton County Schools. With less than three weeks left to go in this legislative session, we have one last chance to try to influence our future.

In a nutshell:  the Senate Budget (unveiled last Thursday) increases per student funding to ACSC by a meager 0.5%. With inflation at 2.1%, we could not even keep our current level of programs/service.  It goes without saying that without strong growth and funding that keeps pace with inflation, issues related to improved class sizes and innovation in programming will be in jeopardy.

Our funding did improve slightly in the Senate budget (compared to the earlier House budget) due to the inclusion of some teacher bonus pay. What bothers us more than anything is that the percent increase in per student funding in most Hamilton County Schools is as much as four times what ACSC would receive. We have expressed our concern about these discrepancies and no one has been able to adequately explain or defend them.

We are focused on the fact that neither the House nor Senate budget provides adequate funds per student for ACSC.

Senator Crane and Rep. Steuerwald are well aware of our concerns and have been great listeners.  We have also met with Rep. Jeff Thompson who is a key player and represents a small portion of Avon . They may not be able to influence change as they are not directly involved in the powerful top echelon that will have the most influence on the budget, but they could vote against the budget in order to send a message. Sen. Crane will be voting as early as Wednesday and Rep. Steuerwald at some point in the future.  We need to give them hundreds of reasons to vote against this budget and/or to try to influence more funds/student for ACSC in the final budget.

Please email or call and leave a message.  Be respectful and constructive please.

Sen. John Crane s24@iga.in.gov – 800-382-9467
Rep. Greg Steuerwald h40@iga.in.gov – 800-382-9841
Sen. Mishler s9@iga.in.gov – 800-382-9467
Sen. Kenley s20@iga.in.gov – 800-382-9467

If you live elsewhere, even better.    You can stand up for Avon with potentially powerful Senators and Representatives. Don’t be ashamed if you don’t know who they are or how to contact them. Lots of people don’t.  We will be happy to identify them for you or go to https://iga.in.gov/legislative/

We are asking you for less than 5 minutes of your time –unless you can get 5 friends to help too!

We will keep you posted.


Maggie Hoernemann


Message from the Oriole Advocates:  PLEASE NOTE:  Voting on the budget could take place as early as tomorrow (Wednesday, April 5), so please make your calls and send your emails today or early tomorrow.  Even if you’re late, send them anyway.  ALSO, avoid copy/paste.  Make your message as personal as you can so that they know we mean it!  Thank you for your help!  Our kids are worth it!

March 14, 2017
by Rosie Blankenship

Advocates testify at state senate hearing

Indiana General Assembly logoAs the state budget continues to move toward a vote in the Indiana Senate, Oriole Advocates are working hard to support revisions in funding for education. Our position is that the proposed budget for education will have a negative impact on schools that are most in need and will hit Avon schools particularly hard.

Two Oriole Advocates testified before the Indiana State Senate School Funding Subcommittee meeting yesterday, March 13, 2017, with a powerful statement on the negative impact of this proposed budget. Sarah Parent of the Oriole Advocates Executive Committee and Dr. Scott Wyndham, who is both an Oriole Advocate and Director of Finance and Operations for the Avon Community School Corporation, presented their statements to the committee.

Pdf_download_iconSarah Parent Senate testimony 3-13-17

Pdf_download_iconDr. Scott Wyndham Budget Testimony 3-13-17

When video is available from the Indiana General Assembly website, we will add it here.

State-wide, the proposed budget increases the amount to education at a level that does not keep pace with inflation. This alone is a problem – a budget that doesn’t keep up with increasing expenses means schools will face cuts. When viewing the funding changes by district, the story becomes even more dire. Under the House-approved budget, Avon will be forced to cut programs and staff, while educating the same number of students or more.

Now is the time to act! Please read our previous post for more information to write letters, emails or phone calls. The budget will soon be heading to a Senate vote – changes need to be made NOW.

March 7, 2017
by Rosie Blankenship

We need to act NOW for our schools!

point7Thank you to everyone who came out to the Oriole Advocates quarterly meeting last night. Whether you were with us in person or not, we know all of you are committed to advocating for Avon schools. This is the time! We need to speak loudly with many, MANY voices!

The budget bill that passed the House will be yet another setback for our schools. Avon would see only a 0.7% increase in funding which is much less than inflation (2.2%) and 3-4 times less than schools like Carmel, Zionsville or Westfield would receive.

It is critical that our legislator hear from us before the Senate votes on this bill in the next couple weeks. We challenge everyone to write at least 3 letters or emails or make phone calls ASAP. And further challenge you to reach out to at least 1 other person to do the same.

We know that copied and pasted messages are ineffective and often ignored. So make your messages your own and let you passion come through, but always remain respectful. The following are some talking points to help craft your messages but, as always, share what speaks loudest to you.

House approved budget (now to be considered by Senate)

  • Avon’s funding does not keep pace with inflation. Under the House approved budget, Avon’s funding increases 0.7% while inflation was 2.2% last year.
  • That amounts to $39/student increase — insufficient given rising costs in all areas of our budget.
  • Avon is as lean as it can be. Compared to 2009: we have 27 fewer teachers, 6 fewer administrators, 20 fewer custodians & 931 more students.
  • While all entities were hit hard by the Great Recession, Avon also contends with the impact of tax caps. Many Hoosiers appreciate having our taxes capped, but had no idea that the impact on our highly residential district would be $47 million (since tax caps were enacted).
  • School districts in other suburban Indianapolis districts are slated to receive increases at or above the inflation rate. (see graphic)

You can find contact information for many of our legislators on our Facebook page or by entering your address on the Indiana General Assembly Find your Legislator page. The following are a few critical ones to reach, but don’t feel like you have to stop with them.

The mailing address for all three legislators is:

200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Thank you for your time, it really can make a difference for the students & teachers of Avon!

September 22, 2016
by Rosie Blankenship

Oriole Advocates meet during first quarter

Avon Kids Matter graphicOriole Advocates Meeting Notes
September 19, 2016  


Dr. Maggie Hoernemann, superintendent, shared about the creation of Oriole Advocates from the perspective of the school corporation. In the summer of 2014, she was facing her first legislative budget session since becoming superintendent. For years, Avon class sizes had been creeping upward and the faculty and staff had not been receiving pay raises. She felt the community needed to be using its clout within the state to effect change. She reached out to the Sparzo family, who had been strong supporters of Avon Community School Corporation, and tossed around ideas with Dr. John Sparzo to pull together a group of people who would advocate for Avon students and teachers.

Karen Eglen shared from her perspective as a parent that she was interested in this group because of her kids. She had been going through a gradual process of asking more and more questions about why Avon class sizes were getting larger. She felt she could get involved in Oriole Advocates to learn more and “do something about it.”

Introduction Executive Group Members

Dr. Hoernemann introduced the executive committee of

  • Rosie Blankenship
  • Missy Van Buskirk
  • Karen Eglen
  • Jennifer Mills
  • Trilby Berry-Tayman
  • Scott Clore
  • Dr. Scott Wyndham (ex-officio)
  • Sarah Parent (who was absent)
  • John Sparzo (who joined the meeting later)
  • and Dr. Hoernermann (ex-officio) herself.

The executive committee has been a smaller group who meets monthly to dive deeply into work the Oriole Advocates need to address.

Mission, Vision, Principles

Jennifer Mills reviewed the Mission, Vision and Principles of the Oriole Advocates, adopted in January 2015. (Available to read here.) She described this document as guiding principles to show that Oriole Advocates did not want to be a negative voice in the conversation about schools. The principles talk specifically about community unity and how Advocates are helpful, informative and respectful. Although the Advocates are a separate entity from the Avon Community School Corporation, these ideals encourage the group to seek input from teachers and administrators, which means the work of the Advocates generally aligns with needs expressed by teachers.

Mini State of the Schools

Class Size Averages 2016Dr. Hoernemann gave a review of the historic funding per student in Avon Community School Corporation, as well as a bit about how the funding formula works (although the complexity of that state formula was far beyond the scope of the meeting). The full set of slides from her presentation can be found here. She discussed that Avon per student funding ranks us as 332 out of 365. While changes in the 2015 budget have led to positive changes, she said, “That’s yesterday’s news.” She said between November 2016 and March 2017, all of the decisions will be made for the next two years of funding, calling it the “sweet spot” for advocacy work.

Avon school per student funding is up $192 from the previous year, but still $504 below the state average. As of 9/16/16, the student count has our schools is up 164 new students.

She shared teacher salary comparisons based on last year’s data because this year’s contract is under negotiation. She noted that entry-level teachers can make more in neighboring districts: 5.9% more in Wayne, 3.8% more in Brownsburg, to name two. Veteran teachers (20+ years) can make an even greater percentage difference in salary: 10.8% more in Plainfield, 8% in Wayne, 7.5% in Westfield. This is significant because excellent teachers can leave for better-paying positions, even without moving their families.

She talked a bit about the property tax revenue loss, which is substantial. These revenues can be spent on items like building debt, pension debt, technology, insurance, buses and other improvements. She explained that the property tax cap limited residential property taxes to 1% of assessed value; farmland to 2%; and business to 3%. In communities like Avon – where about 75% of the property is residential and 25% is business, this hit the budgets impacted by those revenues hard. She explained this is a situation that wasn’t felt in all school systems. If a school district – such as Plainfield – has the opposite makeup of taxable properties (75% business/25% residential), their budget is not significantly impacted. The majority of school districts in Indiana do not have the significant impact of property tax cap loss that ACSC experiences–making it an issue that is not a concern to many in our state.  

Dr. Hoernemann went on to talk about the relationship of test scores and class sizes. Avon has slipped from ranked 16th on ISTEP scores in 2012 to 23 in 2015. She noted that 2014 was the worst year for the sizes of classes.

She feels the school corporation has been very good stewards of the taxpayer’s money and would love to avoid taking this financial issue to referendum. The time and money spent on a referendum vote on taxes may not be worthwhile. So, being excellent stewards of the money is one way the corporation has tried to make ends meet.

The corporation has received a math-science partnership grant of $250,000, a propane bus grant, have terrific insurance efficiencies, had a 0% premium increase for this year (as she said, “This means we didn’t have to give the staff raises, only to turn around and take it away two months later so they could absorb higher premiums.”), has entered into sponsorships with Hendricks Regional Health and Andy Mohr, and are refinancing debt to save interest payments.

She invited those present to continue to learn with the Oriole Advocates about the needs of Avon Community School Corporation, communicate those needs to others and to advocate for the needs with legislators and the local community.

Organizational Structure

Karen Eglen led an update on the organizational structure and changes to Oriole Advocates. These include:

  • The full group will now meet quarterly. (Upcoming meeting dates can be found here.)
  • The executive committee meets monthly and all are welcome to attend.
  • Oriole Advocates have filed Articles of Incorporation and are now a non-profit in the state of Indiana, but are not a 501(c)3 due to our legislative advocacy work. Mainly, the formation as a non-profit was done to be able to do some minor banking in the name of Oriole Advocates and to establish ourselves as a separate legal entity
  • Karen shared the proposed by-laws and said they would be voted on later.
  • A membership form was handed out and she explained new members can join tonight or later, but that we do require they commit to our guidelines.
  • She explained that we eliminated the categories of Armchair Advocates etc. All members are Oriole Advocates and may participate to any extent they are comfortable.

Information Sources

OA website screenshotRosie Blankenship shared the available information sources to help support Oriole Advocates in our work. This includes the website, Facebook and Twitter, as well as email.

Currently, we are seeking people who would be willing to write a blog post, particularly for the “Best of the Nest” series, where we highlight teachers and students doing things that make us particularly proud to advocate for our schools.

Oriole Advocates can use these tools to share information with their own networks. Meeting minutes will be posted to the website within a few days of each meeting. Calls to action are generally first posted to Facebook/Twitter, but additional information is made available on the website and in email. If any Advocate needs to contact a member of the executive committee, they may email orioleadvocates1@gmail.com and it will be forwarded to the appropriate person.

thank you graphicHistory of Accomplishments and Activity

John Sparzo shared about the history of accomplishments of the Oriole Advocates, which included:

  1. Developed a Reputation for Positive, Encouraging Communications. One example, include writing thank you notes to our legislators after the close of the 2015 session. As John said, “They probably don’t get a lot of thank you notes.” This made a positive impact on those people.
  2. Boosted staff morale. Oriole Advocates have had more than two dozen teachers come to speak at meetings because the Advocates genuinely value teacher voices. These teachers feel supported and valued for their work, and have expressed so repeatedly. The Oriole Advocates liaison program is also making attempts to connect to the schools in the same, meaningful way. He said we helped show that, “We stand side-by-side” with the teachers.
  3. Increased funding per pupil. This is a big one, but our advocacy helped lead the way to increased funding at the last budget session of the state legislature. Avon was able to hire almost 30 teachers at the start of the 2015-16 school year.
  4. TIF funding. We have made our thoughts known on residential housing in TIF districts and their financial impact on the school district. We have elevated a little-understood issue to a place where important conversations are being had in Avon and in Plainfield. This may have a future impact even if it doesn’t result in changes regarding the current TIFs in place.


t-shirt2Oriole Advocates shirts

Missy Van Buskirk shared the Oriole Advocates shirts are available to order for $30 each. A second style of shirt will now be offered that is more of a traditional polo fabric for $20. Samples of these shirts are available. A deadline for ordering will be set soon. Advocates are not required to buy a shirt, but they do help show who you are in meetings and public events where we will have a presence.

By-Laws and Voting on Slate Executive Committee

The proposed by-laws were shared. Kent Mueller moved to accept them as written. Mark Rodgers seconded. The vote was unanimous in favor. The by-laws can be read here.

Per the by-laws and requirements of the non-profit corporation status, a slate of officers was presented. They are:

  • President: Karen Eglen
  • Vice-President: Jennifer Mills
  • Secretary:  Rosie Blankenship
  • Treasurer: John Sparzo
  • Member At-Large: Trilby Berry-Tayman

Linda Dobbs moved to accept the slate as presented. Missy Van Buskirk seconded. The motion carried with a unanimous vote of all present.

The executive committee, as introduced at the top of the meeting, is appointed by the president and includes Dr. Hoernemann and Dr. Scott Wyndham as ex-officio (non-voting) members.

Dates of Future Meetings:

  • Monday, November 7, 2016 – 6:30-8:00 p.m.  Administration Center
  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 – 6:30-8:00 p.m.  Administration Center
  • Monday, March 6, 2017 – 6:30-8:00 p.m.  Administration Center


September 9, 2016
by Rosie Blankenship

Oriole Advocates need you Sept. 19

meeting photo

We think we look this cool at Oriole Advocate meetings. (Photo by Cozendo via PixaBay. Used under CCO Public Domain.)

The Oriole Advocates are retooling for an exciting and productive year and we want LESS of your time!

Yes, you heard that right. We want you as a member of Oriole Advocates, but we are reducing the number of meetings this year and streamlining our organizational structure.

Two years ago, a group of Advocates organized with the goals to learn, communicate and advocate. Our advocacy has been intentional, strategic and disciplined. We have spoken formally and informally with community and state leaders and legislators. We had a positive influence on school funding. We made a difference!

So, why are we reducing the number of meetings? There certainly isn’t less work to do! We recognize that time is a precious commodity. For that reason, we have planned a schedule of jam-packed quarterly meetings to accomplish our continued goals.

A smaller executive committee will continue to meet monthly, but we need a larger group of Advocates ready to support our goals during this very important public school funding year.

Advocacy can feel intimidating to some, so we emphasize respectful, accurate, verifiable communication. Our meetings will be filled with information you can take back to use in your daily lives as you advocate for the needs of Avon teachers and students.

We are an inclusive organization and have members who are Avon Community School Corporation employees, parents, business leaders, and some who have no connection to the district other than living in Washington Township!

You are invited to join us for our first meeting of the year on Monday, Sept. 19 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Avon Administration Center (7203 E. U.S. Highway 36, Avon, IN 46123). There is no obligation to commit to membership or requirement to volunteer for work at the meeting. Just join us to find out more of what Oriole Advocates are all about.

To accomplish our goals, we need you! We hope you will join us.

All of our meetings are open to the public. Future meetings will be:

  • Monday, Nov. 7 – 6:30-8 p.m. at the Administration Center
  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 – 6:30-8 p.m. at the Administration Center
  • Monday, March 6, 2017 – 6:30-8 p.m. at the Administration Center

November 6, 2015
by Karen Eglen

Roborioles: The Robotic Takeover in Avon Schools

Who are the Roborioles?

Avon High School has a robotics club! Five years ago, Tim Engelhardt approached Chris Hill and Gary Ayers and asked if they’d like to help start a robotics club, and they were enthusiastic to get started! The Goal: Provide a great experience for students. And that’s just what they did. For the first year the club had about 24 numbers, and has grown to 60 – with 14-16 mentors (teachers, parents, engineers, and technicians).

What do they do?

It all starts with a problem. Before the competition season, mentors and instructors will set out specific problems for these budding engineers to solve. Sometimes, the problem is a game. For example, perhaps they have to develop a robot that will grab a wooden circle from around one peg, across a platform and place the wooden circle around a new peg. Starting with the problem, the kids then break up into groups to start coming up with solutions. One group will have to design a chassis that will have wheels and allow the robot to move from A to B, there also needs to be places on the chassis where other pieces of the robot can be attached. Another group will start creating a mechanism that will actual complete the task set out by the problem or challenge. Meanwhile, programmers are busy developing ways to tell the robot how to do the job it’s intended for, and still another group of students is trying to figure out how all of these pieces and parts are going to fit and work together. An additional group of people focuses on how to raise the profile of the club with various PR projects. That group created little trinkets to hand out as little gifts at events, such as AHS’s Trunk or Treat. Here are the different focuses that the students take on inside the club: programming, electrical pneumatics, mechanical engineering, integration specialization, strategy, inspection, and PR. Students and mentors work in these various areas to ensure that the robot functions properly.2015-10-29 15.00.27

An association called FIRST Robotics presents the challenge for the competition season, which the club will receive in early January. The entire competitive season lasts from the time they receive their challenge through April. This challenge becomes the problem the members will be solving for the following weeks to prepare a robot to take to competitions. Last year, students had to develop a robot that could pick up large barrels. You might have seen their barrel robot if you were at the high school’s Trunk or Treat this year in the form of a large ghost that successfully frightened many people who thought it would stay stationary and didn’t! You might also have seen one of their off-season projects if you’ve been to football games and watched a canon-like robot shoot t-shirts into the crowd.

What do the members get out of their time with the Roborioles?2015-10-29 14.59.41

Experience, experience, experience! These inspiring young people are working together, learning to collaborate, working on technical problems, and developing solutions – not just to their robotic problems, but also interpersonal solutions along the way. Many of these kids plan to pursue a future in engineering, and this club is an ideal place to explore the various paths they might take. Avon High School student, Colin Blose says, “It’s a huge help since I plan to study engineering when I go to college.”

How are they funded?

2015-10-29 15.14.47

Sponsors are represented by placards on the robot the students built.

The bulk of the funding for Roborioles comes from corporate donations and grants. Chris Hill has invested a great deal of time and passion writing grant proposals so that the club can have all the materials it needs in order to be successful. Companies such as Rolls Royce and Allison Transmission donate money to clubs like the Roborioles because they know that they are investing in their own future. Many of these students will go on to great engineering schools with a desire to return to the area and take up a career. These corporations are aware that they will see a return, simply in the depth of understanding that these students will bring back as employees someday. In fact, Carrier believes so hard in this cause that one of their employees, Steve Blaske, comes to work with the Roborioles every week as part of his job, and he continues to get paid for his work. They consider these young minds a truly worthy investment! Student members also pay $50 a year to be a part of the group, which pays for transportation costs associated with attending various events throughout the year.

Will there ever be robotics teams for younger kids?

This is currently in the works! Students from grades 5-8 will soon be able to participate in similar programs at their own schools. The current plan is to utilize Lego robots and work in a comparable way to the high school team. So be sure and keep your eye out for information on those upcoming opportunities!

How can we see these cool robots they’re building?

Everyone should definitely come to the Roborioles Open House on February 3rd, 2016 at 6pm at Avon High School. They will be excited to show you what they will have been working on for their competition season at that point. Come prepared to be impressed by some amazing young problem solvers!

Also, be sure and like them on Facebook to stay informed about what they’re up to! Search for “Avon Robotics Team.” Feel free to contact Chris Hill with any questions or comments you might have: CMHill@avon-schools.org.


A great big THANK YOU to the educators who dedicate their time and energy to making this club a great experience for our kids! We appreciate you!

October 2, 2015
by Karen Eglen

River Birch: Lead and Serve

Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results. – John Dewey

What are the Ambassadors?

Fourth grade students at River Birch Elementary have a special opportunity to take on a mantle of responsibility usually carried by teachers and parents. The teachers and administrators have utilized some of their professional development training from C.L.A.S.S. (http://www.joyofclass.org/) and established a group of students designated as Ambassadors. Mrs. DeHart and Mr. Miller have worked tirelessly to make the program as successful as possible. Historically at River Birch, the Ambassadors have served as greeters at various school events, tour guides in the first days of school and on back to school nights, and helpers in other various formats.

Any fourth grade student with a desire to serve may apply to become an Ambassador. The application process, however, is not dissimilar to that of a real-life, grown-up job application. Student must fill out a formal application, get references, and have an actual face-to-face interview to discuss why they want to become an Ambassador. The teachers and administrators know that being an Ambassador isn’t easy, and in the past their meetings have taken place outside the school day. They wanted to be sure and select kids who were dedicated.leadandservepic

How do the Ambassadors impact younger students at their school?

The fourth grade students want to leave a legacy behind for the younger students at River Birch. The teachers who work with the Ambassadors have helped them to become mini-teachers. These mini-teachers go into the classrooms of younger students and teach them lessons pertaining to various life skills, such as responsibility and integrity. To that end, they are meeting with the teachers to discuss the best ways to approach the different age groups and little things they can do to connect the subject matter to their current interests.   Each class has two Ambassadors assigned to it for the lesson, and these mini-teachers go into the rooms and actually teach to a full class of kids!

If they’re focused on teaching, what will they be learning?

The Ambassadors, while they are very busy trying to give back, are receiving some fantastic, authentic education in the process. In order to teach others, they have to fully assimilate the ideas they hope to convey. What better way to learn than to prepare to teach others!

Imagine for a moment what they are also learning about compassion and respect. Consider how they are attempting to understand people who are slightly younger than they are. I believe this is where the greatest learning may be taking place. When you are putting yourself fully into another person’s shoes in order to understand them and educate them, you have the unusual opportunity to see the world from a perspective you don’t know or don’t remember. These students are learning about leadership and service on the front lines!

Sounds like a great program – have they encountered any challenges?

The group has had a really hard time with scheduling time to meet. Many students are unable to meet outside the school day, so Mrs. DeHart and Mr. Miller have tried to squeeze in time during the day in the past. They even tried to utilize twenty minutes during lunch to prepare students to go and teach in other classes – what a chaotic image! Just think of all of those fourth graders shoveling down lunch and trying to take in the finer points of educating others, while the teachers try to pour their passion for education into the hearts of the kids! What a challenge! Fortunately, the administrators and fourth grade teachers all agree that the value of this leadership and service training is worth instructional time during the school day. For forty-five minutes per week, the teachers are able to work with the students at the end of the day before they go home from school.

What about the students who don’t get to be Ambassadors?

“Everybody needs an opportunity to know what it means to be a leader and know what it means to think about others,” says Mrs. DeHart.

Several different opportunities have been developed, and students can choose in what capacity they’d like to learn more about service. Fourth graders can elect to participate in the news crew that helps put on the morning news every day at River Birch – WRBE! The news crew learns a great deal about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a news program, such as writing and production. They may even take a field trip to Channel 8 to find out more about how news production works! Fourth graders can also select peer tutoring/mentoring which gives them the chance to work with younger students on academic subject matter. If they select peer tutoring, they receive training from teachers, the school counselor, and the school instructional coach on the best ways to help the student they tutor. They can even choose to work with the community outreach group which seeks to serve people in Avon outside of River Birch’s own walls. This is the group who built the float that represented River Birch in the Heritage Festival Parade this last Saturday!leadandservefloat

I am thrilled that these opportunities exist for the fourth grade students at River Birch, and I only hope that these kids take the life lessons they learn on with them as they enter intermediate and middle school! The fourth graders at River Birch want to leave a lasting legacy of leadership for their younger peers – what legacy will you leave?

September 19, 2015
by Rosie Blankenship

Oriole Advocates take stand regarding TIF districts

iconRecently, the Oriole Advocates took on research and discussion regarding TIF districts. A Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district is a development tool that municipalities use to encourage growth. An easy-to-read summary of how a TIF works and the impact on Avon Community School Corporation is included in our background review that you can download here.

Following meetings with the Oriole Advocates where discussions were held regarding this issue, the Oriole Advocates moved to the resolution below. This stance has been provided to the Avon Town Council with a request to forward it to the Redevelopment Commission.


This Resolution is not directed toward any particular entity, developer or location, nor is it intended to impede economic growth and development. Instead, it is simply a statement that the Oriole Advocates believe represents the sound use and implementation of Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts.

This resolution is consistent with our Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles as provided here.

The Oriole Advocates believe that –

If multifamily residential housing is to be considered within a TIF district anywhere in Washington Township, then there should be provisions that require the increased tax revenues to pass through directly to the schools and other local taxing entities.

The above resolution was approved unanimously by the Oriole Advocates present at the meeting of August 27, 2015. This document was subsequently edited for technical accuracy and finalized by the executive committee on September 10, 2015.

Oriole Advocates Executive Committee

Trilby Berry-Tayman
Rosie Blankenship
Kyle Campbell
Karen Eglen
Jennifer Mills
Sarah Parent
John Sparzo

Oriole Advocates Membership in Favor

Susan Caveney
Julia Collings
Linda Dobbs
Suzann Gray
Nancy Johnson
Christopher Kates
Kristi Kerr
Kent Mueller
Steve Pearl
Angelia Ridgway
Mark Rodgers
Amanda Sparzo
Martha Sparzo
John Torbit
Dana Unison
John Unison

September 2, 2015
by Karen Eglen

First Annual Oriole Advocate Ice Cream Social

First Annual Oriole Advocate Ice Cream Social


social1The Oriole Advocates recently hosted their first annual Ice Cream Social as a celebration of the accomplishments of the year and as a way to honor people who have helped move our corporation in a positive direction.  The Oriole Advocates also selected the winners for the first ever Big Bird Award.

What accomplishments did the Advocates celebrate?

  • We were excited to be a part of the movement to improve the funding formula, which resulted in increased funding from the state for Avon Community Schools. (see Funding Fundamentals)
  • Due to the new funds, ACSC was able to hire quite a few new teachers. The total of new positions for this year is now up to 30.85.  This has made it possible for our class sizes to be reduced significantly – giving our students a better environment for learning.

Who did the Advocates honor?social2

  • Our state legislators, Sen. Pete Miller and Rep. Greg Steuerwald, attended the Ice Cream Social, and we thanked them for the key roles they played in moving our state’s funding formula in the right direction. We appreciate all of their work to make our schools better!
  • We were honored by the attendance of the some of the brand new teachers who were hired because of the new funding we are receiving this year. We look forward to tremendous impact their additions will make for our students and schools.

social3What is the Big Bird Award, and who won?

To be a candidate for this award, an administrator, teacher, support staff worker, volunteer, parent, or community member must have demonstrated one or all of the following: elevate, empower and enliven others; extend their efforts so that their work reaches beyond that of their peers; elucidate the achievements of others in the school system.

We were so pleased to have these nominees for 2015:

  • Laura Campbell, parent volunteer
  • Barb Doll, support staff
  • Kristin Isbell, teacher
  • Lori Kennard, teacher
  • Kris Kingery, administrator
  • Cathy Klemmensen, volunteer
  • Jeff Lewis, Avon Police Officer
  • Annette Patchett, administrator
  • Jaymie Popcheff, teacher
  • Joel Powell, teacher
  • Andrea Rader, teacher
  • Dean Westman, teacher

For their outstanding service to our schools, Dean Westman and Officer Jeff Lewis were selected as this year’s winners for the first annual Big Bird award!  We appreciate their fantastic efforts!  If you’ve been witness to people who have gone above and beyond for our schools and are deserving of the Big Bird Award, be sure and inform one of our Oriole Advocates, so we can recognize their efforts, and consider them for next year’s award!  We are so grateful for the efforts of so many to make our schools the best they can be.

We look forward to next year’s Ice Cream Social!social4


August 8, 2015
by admin

Pine Tree Read-In Week

Written by Trilby Berry-Tayman

pine tree read_in_animals[1]Our excellent Avon teachers and many members of our community strive constantly to motivate our Avon Elementary students. One of the many examples of this effort happened on May 18-24 when Pine Tree Elementary invited community members into their school to participate in their Read-In Week. This year’s theme was “Go on a Reading Safari”.

Members from the community were invited to come into school and read one of their favorite books to the students. The students were also able to dress up in a different animal themed costume each day of the read-in.

There is nothing better than sharing a good book with eager listeners. Megan Schneider of Pine Tree Elementary, as part of the Pine Tree Read-In Committee set up a fun, educational week of activities to promote literacy. The activities included book-themed dress-up days, a book parade and famous guest readers from the community.

pine tree Tom_Klein[1]Community members were requested to volunteer 30 minutes from their day to come to classrooms and read to eager listeners. Avon Town Manager, Tom Klein was able to find the time to inspire with his reading of The Giving Tree. Meanwhile, the students had their own competition and tracked the number of pages they read during the week. The entire school focused on a specific book each day. Monday the students wore wacky clothing as they shared the book, Where the Wild Things Are. They read If You Had Animal Hair on Tuesday so the children could wear crazy hair styles to go along with the book. Wednesday’s book called Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing allowed the children to dress up in animal prints. The Rainbow Fish was picked for Thursday where students could dress as twins or wear Pine Tree shirts. On Friday the week closed with the students dressing in their favorite book character and participate in a parade.

It certainly was a fun week to experience at Pine Tree. Seeing firsthand how our teachers and community work together to help motivate and show our early learners how exciting and fun reading can be was truly an experience I attribute to Avon Community School system’s dedication to their students. Without the support of the Administration from the Principal to the Superintendent, none of this would be possible. Thank you everyone, teachers, community members, principals and superintendent. We couldn’t do this without you.


Trilby Berry-Tayman

Oriole Advocate

Pine Tree PTO