MINSTER – The Minster Board of Education approved the start date for the 2020-21 school year and heard about the progress of an expansion in the school voucher program during its Monday, Feb. 17, meeting.
The board approved Superintendent Brenda Boeke’s recommendation for the 2020-21 school year calendar. The first day for students will be Aug. 26 and the last day will be May 26.
Boeke also updated the board on the EdChoice scholarship/voucher expansion.
The Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program provides students from designated public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools through scholarships, also known as vouchers. The program was expanded recently to also provide low-income students entering kindergarten through 12th-grade scholarship opportunities. The scholarship pays up to $4,650 for grades K-8 and $6,000 for grades 9-12.
Boeke said the House and the Senate do not agree on how to manage the expansion program in two areas.
In regards to measuring performance and eligibility, the Senate wants to keep the performance-based component using the report card and 300 percent of the poverty level. The House wants to base vouchers solely on income at 250 percent of the poverty level which is $61,500 for a family of four.
As to how to fund the voucher program, the House wants to have the State fund vouchers as opposed to the money coming from school districts foundation payments as proposed by the Senate.
Boeke said the area superintendents believe the report card system of evaluating schools is flawed and therefore the performance measure for allocating vouchers is flawed so they concur with the House proposal. Hearings continue through this week.
In regards to K-6 news, Boeke reported on behalf of K-6 principal Leanne Keller, who was absent due to illness. Alayna Bergman was recognized on receiving the Spirit Stick. Also, cousins of Maureen Meiring were thanked for donating medals that were given to previous spirit stick award winners. These medals will be part of the presentations in the future.
Boeke also said there was the need for a half time data and literacy coach position at the elementary school. This position is needed to address the need to both build capacity for continued success in meeting the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and to develop a more proactive process within the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports framework to address the mental health needs of the elementary students.
This position would allow Guidance Counselor Leah Ketner to be removed from providing direct reading support as well as replace her role on the academic response to intervention.
Junior/Senior High Principal Austin Kaylor recognized the winners of the spelling and geography bees, The Franklin B. Walter recipient, as well as the blood drive organizers, and the District 3 Honors Band participants.
He said the recent winners of the school-wide Spelling Bee were Allison Zhang (seventh grade) for first place, Sophie Werling (seventh), second place, and Ryan Halpin (eighth) in third.
He added that Zhang will go on to compete in the regional spelling bee in Lima on Saturday, March 21.
Winners of the school-wide Geography Bee went to Lexi Hanson (seventh) in first place and Jacob Keller (eighth) in second place.
Hanson will now complete a written test in hopes of qualifying for the national competition held in DC.
The YLA and the student body were congratulated for a successful Feb. 12 blood drive when they collected 34 units of blood. He added that with another successful drive in early May, a $750 scholarship will be made available to student organizers Mara Schmiesing and Emily Stubbs.
The principal also recognized three MHS seniors selected for the OMEA District 3 Honors Band. They are Luke Barga (tuba), Sierra Lentz (clarinet) and Devon Schultz (trombone)
Kaylor shared drafts of the locally defined graduation seals as well as information about DC fundraising, Freshman orientation, scheduling and the student led conferences.
Finally the principal congratulated Coach Jessie Magoto for being selected as the 2018-19 Mideast Section Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year by the National Federation of High Schools.
In the Ohio Schools Facilities update the board learned punch list items were worked on this week. A few areas still need addressed. The board also learned $30,694.25 of the proposed purchases of $52,969.53 contingency fund has been approved. The remaining will go toward new chairs in the cafeteria.
High school guidance counselor Melissa Utrup gave a presentation on the changes to the high school course offerings for the 2020-21 school year. She said there are 88 courses offered at the high school with 42 being electives.
She also shared that a few courses are being eliminated next year like weightlifting and geology. Sociology and psychology will be offered as regular semester courses but will not be CCP courses next year. Psychology will be offered as an AP course which brings our total to seven CCP offerings and 4 AP offerings. The board thanked Utrup for the time and energy spent on scheduling.
Treasurer Laura Klosterman said a school van at the cost of $33,130 and a truck at the cost of $26,700 have been ordered.
Additionally the board approved the minutes, financial report, payment of bills, a Now and Then certificate for nursing services for a student and increased appropriations for Title IDEA Part B for $2,457.21.
They also adopted the yearly resolution authorizing membership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
The board was invited to attend the Franklin B. Walter banquet in April to honor our recipient Gwen Meiring.
In new business the board approved the depository agreement with The Minster Bank for Deposit of School District Funds. This allows Minster Bank to receive and safely keep on deposit the active, interim or inactive funds of Minster Schools and to pay interest on deposits at a rate agreed upon by Minster Bank and the Board of Ed for a period of five years.
Additionally the board approved the half day literacy and data coach to provide direct support within the classroom with priority given to the third grade. The coach will act as a resource to teachers in interpreting assessment data and planning instructional adjustments accordingly as well as being a professional development resource.
The board approved a resolution adopting the Ohio Public Employees Deferred Compensation Program for the 457 Plan as an additional provider.
In personnel recommendations the board approved the creation of an assistant maintenance position per the salary schedule and also approved Dave Grieshop as a substitute bus driver.
The board rescinded LeAnn Huelsman’s junior high assistant girls track coaching contract and approved the following contracts for Tim Thien, Jim Sharp and Marcus Hileman as assistant boys track, Jeff Stueve as varsity assistant baseball, Alyx Brandewie as junior varsity baseball and Dave Conrad as a softball assistant. Additionally the board approved baseball volunteers Mark Cordonnier and Austin Kaylor and softball volunteers John Poeppelman and Mallory Puthoff.
The board set the next regular meeting for Monday, March 16, at 7 p.m. The board went into executive session to prepare for negotiations.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.