Principal reviews Longfellow’s homework policy

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — An review of the no homework policy implemented during the 2015-16 school year at Longfellow Elementary School was one of the items discussed by the school’s staff members during Monday night’s Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting.

“There’s been a lot of research of giving homework at the elementary school level,” said Principal Fran Dembski. “When we did the no homework policy, we were encouraging the students to read and do math facts at home. The older students do timeline work at home.

“We encouraged parents to spend time with their students at night” reading or doing other activities, she said.

Dembski said they did run into the problem of the older students taking the “no homework” policy at its word and didn’t do the recommended reading and math facts work.

Two parent surveys were conducted during the school year to see how they felt the policy worked for their children.

“The staff also talked about the program,” said Dembski.

With a year of the policy in the books, some changes have been adopted for the 2016-17 school year.

“All grade levels complete their homework in the classroom,” said Dembski. “If the student doesn’t get it finished, then they take it home to complete. The fourth- and fifth-grade students have a timeline to take home.”

If homework isn’t completed, recess may be taken away from the students, she said. That option is used only after several attempts have been made to have the student complete their work.

Packets and newsletters are sent home to parents so they know what their student is required to do. Reading and math facts, said Dembski, are still a priority for the students.

“The teachers are using their time wisely with the students,” said Dembski. “The students are also taking responsibility for learning. They are tracking their learning (with the time lines).”

School Counselor Carla Kohler discussed the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) program. The program is system-wide and each school has different levels of implementation.

The students have daily expectations, said Kohler. Some of those are “Bee ready” and “Bee respectful.” There are monthly positive Bee assemblies for students who have been given a certificate for meeting a “Bee” goal. There are also drawings for the students.

“We’re made a chain down the hallway,” said Kohler, which includes “Bee” statements.

There’s also a Super Bee Shopping experience for students who have achieved behavior and attendance goals.

Occupational therapist Trish Hull discussed the sensory needs of the children at Longfellow and throughout the school district.

“Longfellow has the biggest need (in the district),” said Hull. “There’s at least 20 students who need assistance.”

Students with sensory needs have problems processing sensory information such as touch, sound and smell. Sometimes the students need down time from the regular classroom, she said, so they can go back to class and be able to concentrate.

She said the more sensory training they can do with the students, the more successful the student will be academically.

Hull said grant money that the school had available has been used to purchase sensory items for the students to use. She showed board members items which are currently being used with the students.

She also said they would like to find a room which could be transformed into a sensory room for the students.

Sidney High School Principal Jon Geuy reported on a proposed student trip to India. Ross Casting & Innovation, which is one of the sponsors of the RCI Academy at the high school, wants to take two students who are involved with the program to India to learn about the company and schools in that country.

There are nine students interested in the trip, said Geuy. Logistics and length of the trip are still being determined. He said the trip would probably be in June or July.

More information will be available at a future board meeting.

The board’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m. at the board office.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook,

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook,