SIDNEY – The task of correcting previous incomplete student data submitted to state education officials regarding the district’s state report card has been daunting, according to Fairlawn Local School administrators. On Wednesday, July 10, the board was updated on the project and approved $26,000 being paid to one administrator for her work to improve the school’s elementary school state report card issued last year at their regular meeting.
Elementary Principal Karen McRill joined with consultant Connie Schneider, former superintendent of Botkins Local School, to review the work that has been done regarding work that has been completed and what lies ahead.
Schneider, who also serves as a consultant in Fairlawn’s special education programs, said the Education Management Information System (EMIS) is important what is filed with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The program is a statewide data collection system for Ohio’s primary and secondary education, including demographic information, attendance, course information, financial data and test results.
Schneider explained school officials are to file the grade card info with EMIS and await the return calculation of the statistics. The district may then make any corrections and resubmit them to state officials to ensure a correct score. Schneider told the board previous uncorrected mistakes cost the district in funding and report card results.
In April, Superintendent Jeff Hobbs said information is entered in the program in-house but said keeping the information vital to state authorities is much improved over previous years.
Bridgett Moots, of the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center, had been working with Fairlawn classified staff member Gretchen Hageman to improve the system. Moots works at the school one day per week with the district’s cost being $13,000 annually.
McRill reported the latest totals show 100 percent passage for the third-grade reading guarantee. Last year’s overall K-3 Literacy grade was an F; however, currently the district would be raised to a C.
McRill, Hobbs, and High/Middle School Principal John Stekli said the aspect of compiling information from all districts is flawed. They spoke of minimum requirements regarding gifted programs, special education, and evaluating students who have dual enrollment such as a joint vocational school.
McRill said some categories, such as minority or disadvantaged students, will only be awarded a percentage of the points. She said Fairlawn does not have the minimum number of students to fully qualify in those categories. Stekli noted that it is virtually impossible to score as high as the test requires due to Fairlawn being a smaller district.
Hobbs said the testing standards show that literally just one student can make a difference in a district the size of Fairlawn.
In a related matter, the board unanimously approved two payments of $13,000 each from the K-3 Reading grant fund to McRill. The payments are for administrative duties for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.
The four-year, $293,000 Ohio School Quality Improvement Grant through the ODE is for a training system to be implemented by educators to study theoretical models from reading science, phonology, basic and advanced phonics, screening and educational diagnostic assessment.
The first year installment is expected to improve teaching methods for reading and spelling for elementary students for the 2019-20 school year.
Treasurer Keith Doseck reported the district could possibly pay out more money than it takes in for the next school year. Speaking in general, he said uncertainties about state funding levels, a drop in open enrollment, and unanticipated changes in the district’s self-insured consortium, are challenging.
Doseck stated he was not sounding the alarm now regarding district funding, but planning for what may lie ahead in four or five years need to be addressed currently. He said such programs as preschool needs, purchased services such as consultants, and special education requirements should be looked at now to prevent any emergencies in the future.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.