PIQUA — Curriculum Director Dwayne Thompson reported at the Piqua City Schools Board of Education meeting an increase of students on track for third grade, with many students meeting the Third Grade Guarantee.
Thompson reported 76 percent of students are on track for third grade this year, with a 23 percent increase from last year, which was at 53 percent. The year before was at 49 percent.
“We are really on a great up-grade scale,” Thompson said to the board. “Students are really working hard and administrators as well.”
Thompson said assessments have been in place to track students’ progress and have had a lot of intervention through programs such as the title one program, Kids Read Now summer program, and the REACH program.
“Congratulations, that’s been a lot of hard work for a lot of people,” Webster said to Thompson.
Curriculum Director Rob Messick reported high school students who have taken the PLAN tests, which prep students for the ACT test, had test score results that were above national average, but below local average, according to the GWOC schools that Messick contacted with.
“We are seeing a lot of improvement,” Messick said.
Across the board, students are 15-20 points above the national average, and only 7 percent above average in science.
“Dwayne and I are working on tactics to address this issue,” Messick said in regard to the science scores. “Our major initiative is to get students to do (PLAN test) multiple of times.”
Assistant Superintendent Dave Larson reported the district has a shortage of substitute teachers. During the past months, there have been several days in which there were not enough substitute teachers to cover the place of regular absent teachers.
“There’s a real need for substitute teachers,” Larson said. “We are working on what is going to incentivize people to become substitute teachers.”
As an incentive to substitute teachers and a way to stay competitive, the board approved to pay substitute teachers $104 a day, as opposed to $92.
“It helps to be competitive and it is fair for the degree and training (substitutes) have,” Superintendent Rick Hanes said.
Larson said that substitute teacher training may take place again this year in partnership with Upper Valley Career Center and Troy City Schools this fall.
Board member Andy Hite addressed that there were 2,500 teacher absences last year and questioned “Is there anything we can do on the other side (to prevent teacher absences)?”
Larson suggested an incentive to prevent teacher absences is to celebrate staff attendance, such as taking more notice and praise to those who show up.
The district replaces two buses every year as a way of making sure the bus fleet is as updated as possible and replace buses based on factors such as the history of maintenance and repairs.
Currently, a grant application is being written and the board approved Treasurer Jeremie Hittle and Hanes to bid for two new buses. Hanes said he would like to have the bids at the November or December board meeting.
Bids are out for contracts for track replacement at the high school and the district has been in contact with two companies on site, discussing materials. Hanes said the goal is to start the project June 6, 2016, and be finished by Aug. 1. One company said it was possible, while the other said it depends on the weather. There will be more information on costs, they are not available at this time.
Other discussion items from the meeting:
• There will be an open house at the junior high and high school from 6-7 p.m. Nov. 30 to spotlight the new STEM programs operated by UVCC.
• The PCS district staff participated in a Twitter chat as a way to talk about happenings going on throughout the district. Hanes said it was successful for the first attempt. Search for #PiquaStaffChat to see the results.
• Each school building website has “welcome” videoclips. “It’s trying to show facilities, but also what happens with the buildings and we have great things happening with our children and staff on a daily basis,” Hanes said.
• The Diversity Committee met this month and are focusing on developing a school community that celebrates diversity through projects such as recruiting more staff minorities by making connections to minority groups at universities. Vice president of the board, Frank Patrizio, and a member of the committee stated he was disappointed to not get a minority teacher this year, and there has been a lot of effort to find a minority candidate.
Reach reporter Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.