SIDNEY — Plans to improve the state report card results in the Fairlawn Local School District have been formulated and are underway. Those ideas were reviewed during the school board meeting Monday, Dec. 10.
Superintendent Jeff Hobbs presented single page listings for each of the six areas the district is graded upon. In September, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) issued an overall “C” grade for the 2017-18 school year.
At that time, the board expressed concern for low grades, specifically in the elementary grades. Elementary Principal Karen McRill told the board then that plans were being developed to improve aspects of educating the younger students.
On Monday, Michelle Vandemark of Lima spoke briefly about how those plans were working. She serves as a consultant with the ODE’s State Support Team 6 regarding the Ohio Improvement Process.
Vandemark worked for 29 years as an elementary and middle school teacher. She has also worked as a literacy leader and a full-time, onsite literacy consultant. She was assigned to work with Fairlawn officials due to the elementary’s being considered a priority school based on the state grade card.
Vandemark told the board she currently works with teachers and administrators on academic plans, developing teacher-based teams and professional development, approximately three days per week.
She told the board of an available grant that would pay $600,000 over a four-year period to enhance teacher skills. The grant focus is the same as the ODE’s, she said, regarding plans that each child is challenged, prepared and empowered during his academic studies.
In another move to order to improve the grades of struggling student athletes, the board heard of a new program implemented by Interim Athletic Director Kim Rank. He reported good results in the early going.
Rank said every two weeks, the grades of all student athletes will be reviewed while their sports are in season. Students must maintain passing grades in five credit classes to remain eligible to participate. Anyone falling below a 2.0 average will be reported to the head coach, who has been directed to help the student regain academic footing.
Hobbs said Monday that two cases involving a boy and girl athlete had positive results in their grades. The plan will remain in place; however, it will be the principal and athletic director who will ultimately decide if anyone is ineligible.
Regarding athletics, the board gave first reading to a policy change to adopt the Ohio High School Athletic Association eligibility guidelines for students to maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average.
In a separate academic issue, the board will consider rewording the student handbook policy regarding valedictorian eligibility. The handbook states, in part, “No student shall be eligible for graduation honors, such as Valedictorian, etc., unless they have been enrolled for the past six consecutive semesters prior to graduation for purposes of determining such honors.”
The board was questioned if the enrollment is considered at another school district or specifically in the Fairlawn district. Board members surmised when the policy was set it was expected to include just Fairlawn students thus not permitting newly enrolled students from other districts or a home school arrangement to qualify.
Administrators stated each district has its own grading scale, so an apples-to-apples comparison would be unlikely.
With board president Bob Gold not in attendance, remaining board members tabled any action until he could have input.
The board will hold its reorganizational meeting, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m., in the Workforce Hangar (library) at the school.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.