Report card improvement plans top Fairlawn BOE meeting

By Jim Painter - For the Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY – Members of the Fairlawn Board of Education quizzed administrators Monday on short and long-term options available to improve the district’s state report. Principals spoke of better teacher training, seminars, state help and seeking help from other districts while board members leaned toward different options.

In September, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) issued the district 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 teaching efforts.

On Monday, McRill informed the board of a $350,000 literacy grant opportunity that would help educators obtain a variety of reading improvement programs. The grant would be disbursed over a four-year period to enhance teacher skills regarding plans that each child is challenged, prepared, and empowered during their academic studies.

If awarded, the grant would not be available until the 2019-20 school year, according to Superintendent Jeff Hobbs.

McRill and High/Middle School Principal John Stekli presented projected proficiency testing results for reading and math. The results were percentage figures on testing results in the fall and winter for the current school years.

Using a complicated monitoring equation, McRill’s report indicated that overall the percentage of students passing at a state exam level in grades kindergarten through fifth-grade next spring to range from 58 to 90 percent in math and 39 to 75 percent in reading.

McRill spoke of Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plans being implemented for students showing a need.

Stekli’s report offered a variance of the report numbers with sixth, ninth, and 10th-grade math testing showing the most growth. Reading results were similar for growth in all grades.

Both administrators praised the improvement to the Education Management Information System (EMIS) that tracks many aspects of the individual student’s growth and need for learning.

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.

The board approved a $3,000 contract with the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center for the remainder of the current school year to continue their work for the EMIS program. The ESC will send someone to the school one day per week to conduct EMIS duties.

After hearing about the long terms plans for teacher training, board members wanted to know what options or programs are available now that would be helpful. They asked what was being done with the data they had presented.

Stekli and McRill said current financial constraints leave them with fewer options. Several board members questioned if there was a program at another school that would be a worthwhile investment now.

McRill said she was accompanying four teachers to visit area districts to review math programs they are finding successful this week.

Hobbs said they are taking a close look at staff regarding professional development. He stated some instructors are reluctant to changing their teaching style. McRill added local teachers have become accustomed to state assistance and the relationship is improving.

Blizzard bags utilized

During his report, Hobbs said the blizzard bags have been depleted. Approved in July 2018, the one-year pilot program goes into play once a school district has reached its maximum of five calamity days. Hobbs said the program will eliminate the need to add school days onto the end of the year to meet the state requirement for minimum days in the classroom.

Administrators and the Fairlawn Teacher’s Association developed the program which focus mostly on technology, according to Hobbs. When weathered out of a school day past the allowed maximum, students may access the information on the Fairlawn website.

Subject assignments for all grades can be completed during the day with a teacher available for online assistance. Hobbs explained that students who do not have computers at home will have two weeks to complete the assignment.

During her report, McRill stated she and her husband accompanied seven junior high students to the Power of the Pen competition recently. She explained they would be given a topic then had 40 minutes to write an essay. As a judge, McRill said more than 1,000 essays were written during the competition.

Four of the Fairlawn students advanced to the next round to be held on March 6 at Lourdes University in Sylvania, near Toledo.

Other board items included:

• Hobbs stated he and Matt Dankworth, the district maintenance supervisor, would present a five-year property maintenance outline at the next board meeting on March 4.

• Adopted the 2019-20 school year calendar.

• Approved substitute teachers Elizabeth Barhorst, Reed Gibson, Patrick Groff, and Hannah Vondrell. They will be paid $100 per day.

• Accepted a $100 donation from Karen and John Green for the Seth Rogers Memorial Scholarship Fund.

• Approved Amelia Small as a substitute bus driver for the current school year on an as-needed basis at a rate of $17.25 per hour.

• Okayed a $2,000 donation to the Model U.N. state competition in Columbus.

• Heard soccer coach Mark Maloney report 33 students signed up for middle school soccer team, which is currently not a board-approved sport.

• Accepted the resignation of Andy Brautigam as volunteer boys’ basketball coach.

• Unanimously accepted the resignation of head volleyball coach Jodi Hickman, who will be pursuing her teaching career fulltime.

• Approved the hiring of several spring sports coaches to a one-year limited contract. They include Adam Lessing, baseball, $4,014.27; David Jones, assistant baseball, $1,745.34; Dominic Lehman, softball, $3,490.67; Megan Dudgeon, assistant softball, $1,745.34; Tim Cummings, high school track, $4,014.27; Jason Hemmelgarn, varsity assistant track, $1,745.34; Aaron Cox, varsity assistant track, $1,745.34; Todd Heckman, junior high track, $2,932.16; and Jace Piper and Aaron Berger, volunteer baseball coaches.

By Jim Painter

For the Sidney Daily News