By Allison Gallagher
For the Daily Call
PIQUA — The Piqua Board of Education approved the district’s strategic plan during its board meeting on June 25. The plan, which begins for the 2014 school year until 2017, strives to enhance the quality of education so that students graduate with relevant coursework behind them.
Piqua City Schools Superintendent Rick Hanes stated that the process is lengthy to ensure that everyone who is involved – teachers, parents, students and the community – has the opportunity to give their input, and to make sure the yearly updates to the strategic plan are beneficial for all.
“We come up with goals for the upcoming year,” Hanes said. “Then afterward we read over those goals and make adjustments where need be. The drafts are completed in May, with the final drafts getting completed and approved of in June.”
Under the new strategic plan, one of the biggest changes to classroom learning comes in applying the principles of Rigor/Relevance/Relationship Framework to instruction. The framework was developed by The International Center for Leadership in Education, which states that the framework focuses on four areas. The first area focuses on teaching simple knowledge and facts; the third area teaches more complex, how-to knowledge; the second and fourth areas focus on applications of knowledge from the first and third areas.
The school district and Hanes states that one of their objectives is to increase teacher interaction and student engagement through the Rigor/Relevance/Relationship Framework, particularly in areas of communication, collaboration and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, commonly known as STEM.
“We have high expectations for our students,” Hanes said. “And we want them to have had the rigorous coursework under their belt so when they graduate and go to college or begin working, they’ll be able to meet with those demands.”
The district also received a $250,000 grant to ensure all students are on track with their reading levels. The goals that came out of this grant are to utilize a balanced literacy approach including Orton Gillingham strategies to have all students reading “on track” by the end of third grade, as well as to utilize writing in all content areas. By focusing on monitoring and achieving student level of Mastery, the district is aiming to get high marks from the State of Ohio and to meet state standards.
Financially, the district has decided to look for alternative means to conserve and gain monetary support with the new objectives. Hanes stated that over the last seven years, the district has succeeded at finishing “in the black” or within the budget. For Hanes, he wants to ensure that with improving the quality of education Piqua students gain, he and the district are also being responsible with taxpayer dollars.
“We make an effort to be good stewards of everyone’s money and time,” Hanes said. “As teachers and staff, there is a commitment to making sure our students walk out with the skills and education they need. The money in our budget goes to enhance classroom learning, and I feel that if our results don’t deliver – that if our students are coming out with the best education possible – then we are not being good financial stewards with the taxpayers’ money.”