Common Core topic of discussion


NEW RIEGEL – New Riegel Board of Education met Monday evening, with member Scott Hohman starting a conversation about Common Core. He had recently spoken with State Rep. Robert Sprague about his concerns.

“I don’t know how I feel about Common Core,” Hohman said. “I’m hearing that they are teaching to the tests and that teachers are feeling under pressure.

“Students feel that getting ready for the OGT is more important than the ACT,” he said, referring to the Ohio Graduation Test and an achievement test.

Member Jenny Theis, a teacher, said, “As a teacher, I don’t have a problem with the Common Core standards – is the testing the problem or the assessments we have to do?”

Superintendent Elaine Nye responded, “Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Common Core standards, either. I get frustrated when people say we are teaching to the tests. You always teach to a test. My issue is with the amount of assessments being done.

“It would be better if we could use the same assessments for the teacher evaluation system and the state assessments,” Nye said. “A performance-based assessment is being done in February and the end-of-year assessment is done in May.

“Partnership for Readiness for College and Careers, PARCC, assessments are aligned with Common Core,” she said. “Teachers have to relay in their student learning objectives exactly what standard they are testing for.”

Hohman stated further concerns about the administrative expenses being unnecessary to comply with Common Core.

Board members asked Nye to compile their concerns and present them to the board for further review. They would like to see teachers brought into the conversation. After that, members want to approach State Rep. Andy Thompson, who has proposed HB 237 regarding Ohio not adopting portions of Common Core.

At a recent meeting, board members directed Nye to hire an additional aide for the fourth grade because they had 27 students in the class. Since that time, it was learned an additional student may join the class. When a class has more than 25 students, an aide is deemed necessary. Discussion took place as to whether an aide for 1 1/2 hours daily is sufficient or is another teacher needed. The class has five of the 23 special education students in the district. The decision was made requesting Nye to hire another full-time teacher for that grade level.

Treasurer Jane Schalk reported that income for fiscal year 2014 included an increase of $36,369 in income taxes, $48,011 in open enrollment, $33,611 from state funding and $10,873 received from the casino tax – a total of $128,864 – but expenses also increased $142,417. The district ended the fiscal year with $78,440 of revenue over expenses.

Board president Jeff Hohman requested the administrative staff members track their vacation and holidays and make that information available to board members.

The board moved into executive session for discussion of personnel compensation.

In other action, members:

Entered into agreement for actuarial services with Findley Davies for the sum of $2,000.

Renewed membership in the Ohio Coalition of Equity and Adequacy of School Funding at a cost of $185 for the 2014-15 school year.

Accepted the resignation of Cynthia Fleming, Spanish teacher and language club adviser, effective June 26.

Accepted the resignation of Kari King, custodial cleaner, effective immediately.

Accepted the resignation of Michael Quinlan, technology coordinator, effective July 10.

Approved Allison Gooding as an educational aide as needed for the 2014-15 school year, to be paid per the non-certified salary schedule.

Approved a one-year, limited non-certified contract for Wendy Zoeller, cafeteria worker, for the 2014-15 school year.

Approved Stephanie Depinet and Joann Gabel as activity cashiers for next school year, to be compensated at the rate of $500 each.

Approved Alec Zoeller as substitute student summer cleaner, to be compensated per the non-certified salary schedule.

Approved payment for teachers who attended the Student Learning Objective Training not to exceed two days and/or wrote student Learning Objectives not to exceed one day at the rate of $70 per day.

Offered Nye a five-year contract as superintendent from Aug. 1 through July 31, 2019.

Discussed investigating Connections Learning, an online program for learning a foreign language, following the resignation of Fleming.

Discussed the future of the third-grade service learning project of visiting Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria.

Determined board members would share in submitting articles for the school newsletter.

Heard 24 surveys have been returned from alumni.

Learned New Riegel did not receive the Straight A grant.

Mentioned parent concerns about students leaving the school grounds for online college courses.

The board of education is to meet again at 7 p.m. Aug. 11.