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State education mandates on Woodridge agenda

4/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

It’s been a busy school year for local districts working to implement new educational programs mandated for public schools by the Ohio General Assembly.

One of these is the new annual teacher performance evaluations, Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES). According to Woodridge Local Schools Superintendent Walter Davis, this is a very time-consuming task for building principals.

At the Woodridge Board of Education meeting April 8, Davis said that so far this school year, Woodridge Intermediate School Principal Gretchen Lawn, for example, told him she had conducted nearly 350 sessions observing and evaluating the school’s teachers.

“There’s probably a less time-consuming way,” Davis said.

Last December, he said, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill (SB) 229. Its purpose is to make some “common sense changes” to the program, such as evaluating teachers already rated “accomplished” — the highest performing, most effective educators — just once every three years, Davis said.

Following the bill’s passage in the Senate, it went to the Ohio House of Representatives Education Committee, where it has been rewritten by some “overzealous” representatives, who have revised out the common sense provisions, he said.

Educators around Ohio are protesting the revisions to SB 229, Davis said, and he provided a letter that board members could sign and send to the chairman of the House Education Committee and local state Reps. Kristina Roegner (R-District 37), Marilyn Slaby (R-District 38) and Vernon Sykes (D-District 34).

The letter urges the House members to pass the original SB 229 and not the revised House version, which, it says, “will lead to confusion and frustration.” All the Woodridge board members signed it.

Another new state mandate, the third-grade reading guarantee, was also up for discussion. The board approved the plans for 2014 summer school, including a new third-grade summer reading intervention program.

The new guarantee stipulates that third-graders who do not perform at the required level on a standardized test will be held back and need to repeat third grade.

The summer school will be held in late June and early July, paid for with Title I federal funds, for the “targeted” children, Davis said, to try to help them pass.

“We will invite them and encourage them to come,” he said, but it is not mandatory.

In other business, the chairmen of the Woodridge levy campaign, Jeff McHugh and Scott Karlo, reported on the progress of Issue No. 8, a 10-year, 10.87-mill renewal levy on the May 6 ballot. McHugh said they had not heard many complaints about the levy so far, “probably because it’s a renewal and not a new tax.”

Treasurer Deanna Levenger reported the Woodridge district had received an award from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost for “exemplary financial reporting” for 2013.

“My staff does a great job,” she said.

Levenger also explained there is an old well that was drilled between the middle school and the administrative office on Quick Road. It’s 3,800 feet deep and “doesn’t produce much,” she said, resulting in about $1,000 per year in royalties.

The district has been looking into drilling a new well that might bring in more money. She has consulted with Moore Resources about a possible new oil and gas lease. The company would do directional drilling diagonally and then straight down 6,000 feet underground that would pull reserves from the whole area.

Royalties from such a well could range anywhere from nothing up to $32,000 per year, Levenger said. The company would not drill near a school, she said.

Board members could find no reasons not to pursue the proposal, so Levenger said she would get contracts from the company and send them to the district’s legal counsel to study.

At a special meeting April 1, the board approved the school calendar for the next two years. Next year, the first day of school for students in first through 12th grades will be Aug. 26 (Aug. 29 for kindergarteners), and the last day will be June 5, 2015.

The following school year will begin for students in first through 12th grades Aug. 19, 2015, (Aug. 24 for kindergarteners) and will end May 26, 2016.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for May 13 at 6 p.m. in the library of Woodridge High School, 4440 Quick Road.

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