Helping county students succeed

Opportunity School success stories shared

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The partnership between the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center and Sidney City Schools to help students succeed in their educational career was touted during Monday night’s Sidney City School’s Board of Education meeting.

The Sidney/MRESC Opportunity School serves students in eight high schools within Shelby County. Of the 62 seats in the school, 55 are reserved for Sidney High School students.

Giving the presentation were Scott Howell, Tom Clark, Sybil Truster, Tom Roll, Doug Barhorst Greg Johnson and two students — Jacob Teasley and Billie Jo Carey — who gave testimonials about their experiences at the Opp School.

“I appreciate the partnership with Sidney City Schools,” said Howell, MRESC superintendent. “Working with Bob (Humble) and Chris (Barr) has been great. There’s nothing I’m more proud of than the Opportunity School. It’s only possible with the partnership with the school district.”

Clark explained the Opportunity School was established in 2000 with 13 students, one teacher, one aide and other staff members. Through last week, the more than 1,390 students have attended the program with 900 of them earning a diploma from their home school.

Students use the self-placed PLATO online curriculum to earn academic credits toward a diploma. They are also mentored one-on-one with a volunteer to fill in educational gaps while creating positive adult relationships.

Roll said there are currently 65 students enrolled in the program with 55 from Sidney High School, six from Hardin-Houston, three from Anna and one from Fort Loramie.

“We have had students from all seven county schools enrolled,” said Roll. “The enrollment count changes In December the count was 55 students and the current count from March is 55 students.

“But we’ve had 21 different students during that time,” said Roll. Approximately 50 students will participate for the entire school year. Others will average 100 days at the school.

Students are enrolled in the program for a variety of reasons: a deficiency in credits to graduate; attendance issues, court involvement and other reasons which could include numerous school transfers, anxiety disorders and disciplinary issues.

Teasley told the board he had stopped out of Sidney’s Alternative School. He enrolled in the opportunity school this year. He had six credits when he started the program and now has 18 credits and is positive he’ll soon be a high school graduate.

Carey told the board she’s been going to the Opp School for three years. She said she was “in the court system and on the run.”

“They make me feel equal to the other students,” she said.

Barhorst, a retired SHS teacher, said he knew there was an opportunity school at the high school.

“Kids were disappearing from my class,” he said. “And they were successful in the opportunity school.”

Johnson is one of the teachers at the opportunity school.

“I totally enjoy the program,” he said. “Don’t ever give up on the kids, ever. We have to get their trust.I know they’re going to be successful.”

Truster talked about the grants she has received for the program and the support of businesses and organizations.

Some of the local support comes from Upper Valley Career Center, Workforce Partnership, Shelby County Jobs and Family Services, Rhodes State College, Ohio Means Jobs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way, Shelby County Community Foundation and Sidney City Schools.

“None of this would be possible without the room and custodial help,” said Truster. “Sidney City Schools is important for our supporting the kids.”

Roll is the Opportunity School director and teacher. Barhorst is also a teacher. Bill Hoewischer is an educational adviser. Johnson is a grant site director for federal reports. Dee Slonaker is an educational aide. Clark is he director for SCOLA and Opp School consultant. Hillary Davis is the co-director of SCOLA. Truster is a director at the Midwest Regional ESC.

Retirements and resignations were accepted by the board.

Bridget Steed, Longfellow IS teacher, Margaret Tatum, van driver, and Barbara Chiles, Whittier aide and maintenance, will all retire June 1, 2019. Stephanie Davis, Workforce Academy high school teacher and Courtney Hicks, Spanish teacher, both resigned with their resignations effective Aug. 1, 2019.

The board hired Jeff Webb as a high school teacher on a one-year contract at $70,372 a year. is contract is effective Aug. 26, 2019.

Cindy Gibson was hired as a substitute teacher at $90 per day. Angela Carey was hired as a substitute custodian, $14 per hour, and substitute cook, $10.06. All contracts are effective April 16.

Supplemental contracts were awarded to Greg Snyder, summer school director, $5,030; and Jamal Foster, varsity girls basketball, $6,759. Season workers employed were Jon Geuy and Stave Corbin. They will work from April 1 to Oct. 31 and be paid $13 an hour.

In other business, the board:

• Heard the first reading of revised or new policies.

• Approved the minutes, financial reports and invoices paid as recommended by Treasurer Mike Watkins.

• Approved the transfer of $75,000 from the general fund to the terminations benefits fund and $200,000 from the general fund to the permanent improvement fund.

• Accepted the proposal by Westerheide Construction Company for repairs at the board of education office caused by water damage at a cost of up to $49,900. Watkins said the district will be receiving $46,000 from insurance to pay for the repairs.

• Approved the list of items sold at the district auction which was held on March 2. Watkins said the sale grossed $16,000.

• Amended the truck diver schedule and substitute cafe driver rate to include van drivers.

• Approved a contract with the Midwest Regional ESC for gifted learning services for the 2019-20 school year at a cost of $24,960,50.

• Approved membership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association for Sidney Middle School and Sidney High School.

• Went into executive session to discuss employment of an employee. No action was taken.

The board’s next meeting will be Monday, May 20.

Opportunity School success stories shared

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.