Lakewood City Schools Lakewood Board of Education 1st Regular Meeting October 1, 2012
Whether you’re a parent of kids in the Lakewood City Schools or a new family in town, a former student, or just a single guy living in Lakewood, the local school district plays an important role in the community and affects the lives of every resident who lives here. Most people, if they could, would attend school board meetings or volunteer their time toward helping Lakewood students. If only we weren’t so busy! Well, the Lakewood Observer is stepping up to help you stay informed about important school issues by attending and reporting on the school board meetings each month. Typically, there are two regular school board meetings per month. Our goal is to cover the meeting and have that information to you online, or in print, as soon as possible.
Education is changing and moving faster than ever before. It can be hard to keep up with new state mandates, local school district policies, or to try to sort through the overwhelming amount of conflicting information that comes at us about education. As we report on school board meetings, we will make every effort to provide background information on important issues, include additional resources for readers who want to do more research, and we’ll explain what all those acronyms mean. If you’re too busy to attend school board meetings, than count on the Lakewood Observer to be your one-stop-shop for staying informed about the Lakewood City Schools as well as your resource for understanding the vast and complex world of education.
The first regular meeting of the Lakewood Board of Education for this month was held on October 1st at Roosevelt Elementary School. Roosevelt Principal, Eileen M Griffiths, began the Superintendent’s report with a reminder that the number one goal of the Lakewood City Schools is “student achievement.” Principal Griffiths reported that teachers are using early release days to develop instruction that will prepare students for the more rigorous Common Core Standards adopted by the State Board of Education last year, and to work on formative assessments. The new standards will be fully in use in Ohio classrooms by 2014-2015, when assessments that align to the standards are in place. Principal Griffiths shared with the Board a sample question from the 3rd grade math assessment to demonstrate a typical math question third-graders will face. It was a tough question requiring multiple steps to be performed by the student. Superintendent Patterson suggested that sample questions be shared with the Board at upcoming regular meetings. Parents can view samples at parcconline.org (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). Principal Griffiths concluded the Roosevelt building report with an overview of activities offered to students through the First Ring Suburb Wellness Grant. In addition, Roosevelt students will be able to earn time with their new Kindect Xbox system as part of the Positive Behavior Supports program (PBS).
The second line item of the Superintendent’s Report was the “Report on Bullying” given by the Director of Student Services, Christine Palumbo. In accordance with the passage of the Jessica Logan Act, H.B.116 last January, the Lakewood Board of Education will need to adopt changes (proposed policy 5517.01) to the current district’s bullying policy. Jessica Logan was a Cincinnati teen that committed suicide after posting some photos online. There are many changes; however, probably one the most significant aspects of the new law is the “Electronic Act” that addresses cyberbullying and will allow school districts the authority to discipline students who harass or intimidate another student off school grounds with an electronic device such as a home computer or cellphone. School Board Member, Linda Beebe, expressed concern about training staff and students regarding this aspect of the new law as well as concerns over the potential legal issues that will need to be sorted out by the district. According to an article in the Springfield News-Sun (February 2012), Holly Reedy, attorney for the Ohio School Boards Association, said challenges to such laws already have landed in courts across the nation, and the outcomes have not been consistent. The Jessica Logan Act will extend anti-bullying policy to include bus stops, or areas where kids would be waiting for transportation such as field trips or sports trips. The new law will also allow for reports of bullying to be made anonymously and must provide for protection and safeguard against retribution. Furthermore, it will prohibit students from reporting any “false” accusations of bullying and allow for discipline. There is a component in the new law that requires all secondary students to be educated on dating violence which will be provided through the Ranger 360 program. Lakewood City Schools was one of nine school districts in the nation to be awarded a collaborative grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women to develop and implement a school and community-based response to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking (SADDVS).
In conclusion, Dr. Palumbo reminded the Board of initiatives that the district has already established to address bullying such as the screening of the movie “Bully” in September that was followed by a community conversation, Campus Impact at Garfield Middle School and Rachel’s Challenge at Harding Middle School and Lakewood High School, Ranger 360, and “Second Step.” “Second Step” is a whole school initiative program designed to be taught in the classrooms by the teachers twice per month and is platformed on being a “Violence Prevention Curriculum.” Skills taught through this program are geared around teaching social skills, character development, respect of others, and preventing other risky behaviors such as substance abuse. The proposed policy will be voted on at the next regular meeting. For more information on the district’s current bullying policy visit lakewoodcityschools.org.
Mark Gleichauf, Director of Teaching and Learning, gave the report for the last agenda item under the Superintendent’s Report on the State Report Card. Typically, the state would release report cards in August; however, this year the auditor’s office held up the process due to some Ohio school districts being investigated on their reporting of attendance records. Attendance is considered in the formula when determining a school district’s rating.
Mr. Gleichauf cautioned the Board that only Preliminary Data had been released with no indication of when the official report cards with the district’s designation or Performance Index Score (predicted to be around 99% based on 5 years of data), would be available. Yet Mr. Gleichauf was able to report that there were some real positives about the performance of the district they could talk about now, for example, Lakewood City Schools was 1 of the 13 districts (out of 31) that had “Above Expected Growth.” Another positive was that the district met 69 out of 80 of its indicators which qualified the district to be designated as “Low Support.” The State of Ohio’s policy for school districts in District Improvement (Lakewood City Schools is in year 8) says that when a district scores an 80% or higher on its indicators that they are moved into a “Low Support” status. Lakewood scored an 87% (passed 69 out of the 80 opportunities presented). Previously, the district had a “Medium Support” designation with a score of 73%.
The Preliminary Data did show areas of concern for the district in areas of 5th grade math and 8th grade science, and although the district had more of its subgroups meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) the district overall did not meet AYP. Mr. Gleichauf was hesitant to report which subgroups didn’t meet requirements, but stated that they were consistent with last year’s report card. Preliminary Data also showed a 10 point drop in the district’s graduation rate. However, graduation rates have dropped all across the region due to a new federal law that changes the way that school districts have to report students who have left their districts. School districts are required to retain students who have left the district on their rolls until the district is notified that the student has re-enrolled in another district. This poses significant challenges to a district especially when a student moves out of state, or even out of the country. The new law is an attempt to create conformity across the nation on how school districts report graduation rates, but it will force districts to dedicate resources to tracking students who leave the district. Unfortunately, keeping students who have left the district on the rolls until notification would affect attendance data that is required for determining a district’s designation on the state report card. For Preliminary Data on individual schools or Lakewood City Academy visit the Ohio Department of Education at http://www.ode.state.oh.us.
After the Superintendent’s Report, the school board discussed agenda items for the second regular meeting of October (rescheduled to October 22) and then allowed for public communication. Lakewood resident, Woody Calleri, posed a question to school board and new district treasurer, Tim Penton, regarding repurchase agreements. According to Calleri, the district holds about $20 million dollars of these investments which is up from prior years. Mr. Penton agreed to address Mr. Calleri’s concerns when there was ample time for him to review his concerns and give a thorough answer. It was Mr. Penton’s first official day as the district’s treasurer.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 8pm. The second regular meeting of the Lakewood Board of Education will be Monday, October 22nd at Harrison Elementary School, 7pm.