New plan in place for SMS classes

By Melanie Speicher - [email protected]

SIDNEY — A solution to a proposed change in the science and social studies classes in the sixth- and seventh-grade classes at Sidney Middle School was given a green light during Monday’s Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting.

Superintendent John Scheu said the SMS staff made a decision on how English and language arts can be taught in the science and social studies classes. Scheu said he had met with Brooke Gessler, director of curriculum, and SMS Principal Diane Voress to discuss the options for this school year and the 2018-19 school year. He said the goal is to come up with a long term solution to assist with raising the state report card grade results in English and language arts (ELA).

“Diane went back to her staff and the sixth- and seventh-grade teams. They submitted a plan covering the ELA standards for 2017,” he said.

For the current year, science and social studies teachers will pull back from covering the ELA standards in their classes. They will, said Scheu, use their subject content to teach information text to the students. Literature and writing will remain in the English and language arts classes.

“This can be done with fidelity without sacrificing social students and science,” said Scheu. “What’s more significant is what we do with the future (classes). We’ll be accessing the strengths and weaknesses of the plan at the end of the year.”

Options for the 2018-19 school year, said Scheu, include keeping the two math classes at both grade levels and implementing a class dedicated to ELA studies.

“The math classes have proven to be successful (in raising test scores),” said Scheu. “We’re proposing having a block schedule for ELA which is not at the expense of the students in the music classes. We don’t want them to have to chose one class instead of the two or three classes they are currently taking.”

Scheu said he anticipates some openings for staff members at the middle school for the 2018-19 school year.

“Those people added to the staff can help with ELA,” said Scheu.

Board member Mandi Croft said grammar can be incorporated into any subject taught at school.

“The block period every day would give the students 13 minutes of vocabulary each day,” said Scheu.

Croft, who is a teacher, said she had parent-teacher conferences recently. Her fifth-grade parent said she loved science but was always pulled out of the class for another subject. The parent didn’t know the planets when she was going to school.

“I’d like to commend the staff and administration for working collaborative to make this happen,” said Scheu.

During the Nov. 6 board of education meeting, parents and staff voiced their concerns about taking class time away from the science and social studies program to incorporate literature, information text and writing in the classes. After listening to the concerns, Scheu said the issue would be discussed further to find a solution acceptable to the parents, staff and students.

In other business, the board:

• Heard a report from Croft and board president Bill Ankney about the capitol conference they attended.

• Head a report from board member Bob Smith about pending legislation.

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

• Accepted the resignation due to retirement of Kathy Braun, intervention specialist, effective May 28, 2018. She has been with the Sidney district for 23 years and in education a total of 31 years.

• Accepted the resignation of Travis Weldy as head teacher at Sidney Alternative School (SAS).

• Employed Jessica Seigel, Eugene Collier, Nathaniel Wright, Sharon Richards, Sara Conrad, Kelsey Deal and Kathleen Moore as substitute teachers at $90 per day.

• Employed John Tangeman as head teacher at SAS on a one-year supplemental contract at $564.

• Adopted new and revised policies for the district.

The board’s next meeting will be Monday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m.

By Melanie Speicher

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.