MORRISTOWN-Results of Union Local's first Explore Test, given to eighth graders at the beginning of the school year, have provided valuable information on where students stand nationally in college and job readiness.
A presentation by Dennis Green, district testing and data coordinator, at Thursday night's school board meeting showed Union Local students performing above the national average on the test in all four categories: reading, math, English and science.
In fact, 16 eighth graders received one perfect score (25) in one of the categories. Fifteen students scored in the 90th percentile nationally, and five students in the 98-99th percentile. In college readiness scores, Union Local tests were above the national average in English, math and reading and slightly below the average in science.
T-L Photo/GLYNIS VALENTI
UNION LOCAL school board members, from left, Todd Kildow, Dean Lancaster, Treasurer Shawn Miller, Board President Ed Stenger and Superintendent H. Kirk Glasgow, discuss the possibility of rescinding the 50 percent cuts to 2012-2013 supplemental contracts.
In addition to the standard subject questions, students are asked to do an "Interest Inventory" and select career choices they would like to follow. Results from the test scores and interests gauge the student's course and makes suggestions on how to prepare in high school and alternative job options.
Green thanked Helen Puperi for her assistance in obtaining the test for this year. Fees were paid through the 21st Century Community Learning Center.
The next tests will be the spring OGT, given to sophomores, March 12 through 23, followed by the Ohio Achievement Assessments for third through eighth grades in April. Green orders, administers and coordinates all testing for the Union Local district.
Thanks to the recent gas and oil lease payment to the district, board members voted to purchase two new buses and replace the bus radio system. The last new bus was purchased in 2009, and the district has postponed upgrading because of budget issues.
Operations Manager Bill West obtained new state-approved quotes for the buses well under the original estimates, saving the district $4,000 to $10,000 per bus. He also found an estimate on bus radios that will save the district approximately $11,000 from the original estimate. The district is required to install the radio system before January 2013 to comply with new standards.
Board members agreed to stand behind disciplinary measures deemed necessary by school principals to punish acts of bullying. A concerned parent first expressed thanks for the district's recent actions regarding a bomb threat, but asked them to review the current policy on bullying, suggesting it may not be strict enough.
Asked for her insight, middle school Principal Jayme Yonak said that 70 to 80 percent of her day is spent with disciplinary issues. However, the issues are not physical fights that begin at school but cyber-bullying, usually on Facebook, that takes place out of school and creates a volatile environment once the students arrive. Yonak noted that she, herself, had to file a complaint with the sheriff's office when an angry parent launched an attack against her on Facebook.
She has a program in place as an after-school detention called Friday School. Students assigned to the program are given gloves and plastic bags, and they walk the school grounds picking up litter or doing other necessary chores. Teacher Sheryl Sonk told the board that parents are uncooperative about the program because it's "inconvenient" for them. Yonak added that "inconvenience" is part of the program, and the point is for students to stay out of trouble, so there won't be an inconvenience.
Board members Ed Stenger and Dean Lancaster asked what help or strategies would improve the bullying problem. Superintendent Kirk Glasgow said that the law now allows school administration the authority to discipline students for actions such as cyber-bullying outside of school. Yonak responded that a resource officer and counseling sessions have helped in the past, but budget cuts have eliminated those options. The district's policy committee will be reviewing the current bullying verbiage and looking at other solutions.
A lengthy discussion on a contract with the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Virtual Learning Academy to provide online classes to select Union Local students resulted in a "no" vote for the remainder of this school year.
Contracts with certain providers like JCESC would allow Union Local to retain the state funding for students using the online service while paying standardized fees on a per case basis. The board determined that there would be no benefit to entering into a contract with only nine weeks of school remaining. Members agreed to investigate online school options before next fall and also to determine strict criteria for students using the program.
Glasgow asked the board to consider rescinding the motion to cut 2012-2013 supplemental contract payments in half approved during the Aug. 25, 2011, board meeting. Lancaster commended Glasgow for returning to the issue, and board member Terry Puperi asked for a copy of the projected cost information on the supplementals. Member Todd Kildow agreed that they should revisit the motion and suggested it be included on next month's meeting agenda.
Members approved a list of updated and new school policies. In January, the board attended a workshop facilitated by the Ohio School Board Association and went over board policy, providing each member with a summarized outline. Kildow thought it was an exceptionally helpful format. The board also thought putting updated versions on a compact disc would be more time- and cost-efficient and more accessible. They also thought the policy should be posted on the district website.
Stenger suggested a new committee, a student liaison committee, made up of board members and students, such as class officers, to go over student suggestions, complaints and issues. "We may not always be able to help," said Stenger. "But we want to let them know the board will listen to them."
Elementary School Custodian Jerry Dunlap was awarded February's district VIP Award for his service to Union Local. He was not at the meeting to receive it in person.
The board approved the following supplemental contracts for the 2011-2012 school year: Stephen Schmitt, junior varsity baseball coach; Daniel Hess and Dustin Hess, junior high track coaches. The following volunteers were approved for the baseball program: Mark Cisar, Steve Mercer, Cristopher Schmitt and Wayne Hardy. The board also approved the following substitutes: Shelly Studenc, secretary; David Chambers and Elyse Thompson, both teachers, long-term subs. The board accepted a resignation due to retirement of Norma Heskett, head cook, effective March 1, 2012.
Members approved bills to be paid totaling just under $1.2 million and approved purchase orders in the amounts of $1,780 to School Specialty for planners and $23,999.85 to Staley Communications Inc. for the bus radios. The board approved a contract with Rea & Associates to perform an audit for the Medicaid School Program. Union Local is able to bill Medicaid for relevant staff services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, school nurses and psychologists. The audit is an unfunded, required expense.
Minutes from January meetings were approved with one amendment. All field trips and uses of facilities were approved.
Union Local school board meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in the high school library.
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