Van Wert BOE reviews State grade card and gifted education program

VAN WERT – Chris Covey, Curriculum Director, presented a quick snapshot of the Ohio School District Report Card to the Van Wert City Schools Board of Education Wednesday evening. New this year was the overall district grade, of which Van Wert received a “D”. Districts and schools report information for the Ohio School Report Cards on specific marks of performance, called measures, within broad categories called components. The schools receive grades for up to ten measures and six components.

“There are flaws in the system and in the way the State grades the data,” stated Covey. “The one thing I am most proud of our school district for is that we serve all students, every single one; whether they are easy to work with, or difficult; whether they are advanced, or they struggle. We are doing the best we can and working really hard to make sure each and every one of our students succeed, whether or not the data gets reported correctly. The State doesn’t see that when they assess the data.”

Covey went on to show the board all six grading components and presented ways the data reporting can be improved for next year.

“Every Superintendent in the State of Ohio right now is struggling with the results of the State testing and the report cards,” stated Superintendent Vicki Brunn. “It is not a good measure for how our school and students are doing, in Van Wert or across the State. We are going to take a good look at the data, but in the end, we are going to keep doing what is best for our students. I applaud our entire staff for all of their hard work. They are taking the data very seriously, but in the end the students are what matters most.”

 Chris Covey, Curriculum Director at Van Wert, reviews the State Report Card at the Van Wert Board of Education meeting Wednesday night.  (DHI Media/Julie Keirns)

Chris Covey, Curriculum Director at Van Wert, reviews the State Report Card at the Van Wert Board of Education meeting Wednesday night. (DHI Media/Julie Keirns)

Also during the meeting, Darla Dunlap, Tricia Ridenour and Ruth Ann Dowler spoke about the gifted component on the report card and why VWCS did not meet the gifted indicator. They presented a little history on gifted education at VWCS and a vision for the future of the program. The standards for gifted education change yearly and VWCS does not currently have a coordinator to oversee the program.

“The low grade isn’t because we are not servicing our gifted children,” said Dunlap. “It’s because it hasn’t been reported correctly and there has been a lack of coordination.”

“We currently have 215 gifted children in our school district,” stated Ridenour, current gifted intervention specialist. “I cannot service them all alone. We need to find a different and better way to serve these kids.”

“Our gifted children need more,” stated Ruth Ann Dowler. “We need to do what is best for our kids, and at the same time we need to learn how to report our data correctly and follow the regulations so we can get a higher score.”

“The three of us are doing the best we can,” Ridenour went on, “but our students need and deserve more. We are asking the Board to hire a Gifted Coordinator, someone who can come in and wrap their arms around all of the chaos, help us identify the needs and serve the kids, and teach us to report the data correctly so we can get the higher points.”

In other business, the Board approved several Treasurer Agenda items including the Five-Year Forecast, and acknowledged the following entities and individuals for their generous donations to different areas of VWCS – Central Mutual Insurance Company, State Wide Ford Lincoln, Alliance Automation LLC, 1st Federal, Harold Miller, Miller Precision Mfg. Industries Inc, Armstrong Air & Space Museum, United Way of Van Wert County Inc, VWCS Elementary PTO, Midwest Sportswear, Sparetime LLC, Cooper Farms, The Scott Equity Exchange Co, Rhoades Insurance Agency Inc, Van Wert Propane Inc, Keister & Baker LLC, Kleen Pro, and Northwest Ohio and Welch Trophy.

Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton reported on the Comprehensive School Safety Plan. Every three years the plan must be updated and submitted to the State. This year it is due by November 6. The Evacuation and Reunification Plan was the most critical component that needed to be planned out thoroughly this year.

“We do have a plan in place now should there ever be a need for the school to evacuate or relocate,” stated Clifton. “SecureCom has installed panic buttons and additional cameras. A solution for securing the classroom doors has been reached and will be in place on each door in the very near future. As a district, we want to continually remind our students, staff, parents and community that school safety and security continues to be a top priority in our day to day operations.”

Clifton continued with an Eggerss Stadium update. The construction is almost completely finished. An additional 1,000 handicap accessible bleacher seats have been installed on a concrete slab. The south fencing is now in place, new emergency security lights have been installed, and the parking lot was stripped down and retopped. Clifton also recognized and publicly thanked all bus drivers in light of Bus Driver Safety Week.

During her report, Brunn notified the Board of her decision to place a staff member on paid leave.

“I do want to notify the board that I have placed Craig Hershey, our Athletic Director on paid administrative leave,” stated Brunn. “We have begun an investigation, actually just yesterday, so I can’t give you much more information than that at this time. I will keep you informed as that moves forward, but I did want the board to know that he is on paid administrative leave at this time.”

There was no further information on why or what the investigation was regarding.

Brunn continued by announcing a survey regarding Open Enrollment. Letters have been mailed to parents, as well as reaching out by telephone seeking information as to why families have chosen to open enroll their students in other districts. Brunn is optimistic that communication with families will be positive. She is looking to gather information regarding reasoning in hopes of improving issues.

Final Consent Agenda Items approved were as follows –

*Accept the resignation of Matthew Miller, Assistant Soccer Coach, effective October 2, 2018.

*Approve Diane Tobe as Assistant to the Treasurer, effective November 12, 2018.

*Approve the following supplemental contracts for the 2018-19 year: Krista Baer – HS Multi-Media Manager; Brenda Smith – HS Multi-Media Manager; Drew Bittner – Elementary Echo Administrator; Zane McElroy – Middle School Echo Administrator; Bob Spath – HS Echo Administrator (.5); Jeremy Kitson – HS Echo Administrator (.5).

*Approve Ty McClain as Volunteer Assistant Coach for Middle School Girls’ Basketball, effective 2018-19 school year

*Informed the BOE that the following employee be advanced on the pay scale due to additional college coursework, effective February 1, 2019 – Debra Chiles – Masters +15 to Masters +30.

Superintendent Vicki Brunn moved that the Board adjourn into executive session for the purpose of discussing personnel matters, and considering matters required to be kept confidential by Federal Law.

The next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 5 p.m.