COVINGTON — New board member Jim Rench, along with returning board members Dr. Dean Pond and Lee Harmon, were sworn in during the Covington Board of Education’s organizational meeting Thursday evening.
Voters in Covington elected Rench, a 1980 graduate of Covington schools and software support engineer, to fill the seat vacated by outgoing board member Alex Reck.
Pond will continue in his role as the president of the board, and Lee Harmon will continue to act as the vice president of the board.
Regular meetings of the board were also rescheduled to the first and third Wednesday nights of the month at 6 p.m.
After the organizational meeting, the board honored student Jesse Harrison during the Student Spotlight. Elementary School Principal Josh Long noted Harrison’s artistic talent, saying the fifth grader thrives in art class.
“He has a tremendous support (system),” Long said. He added, “We’re so very, very proud of him.”
Long also said that Harrison exemplifies the culture at Covington schools, saying, “He’s exactly what we’re about.”
“He was my son’s first friend,” Superintendent Gene Gooding said, adding that Harrison made Gooding’s son feel welcome in the new school environment.
Following the Student Spotlight, Dave Larson, director of Curriculum and Instruction at Miami County Educational Service Center, gave the board a curriculum update.
“There are two things I want to chat about specifically,” Larson said.
Larson went over the Third Grade Guarantee in which third-grade students undergo two language arts assessments, giving them an additional opportunity to earn the reading and writing scores needed to move onto the fourth grade.
Last year produced Covington’s highest percentage of students with proficient scores, Larson said. Of the approximate 79 percent of students who met the Third Grade Guarantee overall, approximately 54 percent earned scores that qualified as proficient.
“We’re certainly on track,” Larson said, adding that they have an intervention plan in place for students who appear to be falling behind.
Larson added that Covington’s one-to-one program, which makes a Chromebook available for each student in the school system, has helped students with standardized testing, particularly shortening the time it takes to log into the testing system and navigating through the online test.
“It helps with state assessments without a doubt,” Larson said. He added, “I think the one-to-one rollout has gone really, really well.”
Larson also went over the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) approach required in Ohio schools, which Larson said is a type of framework for how to approach student behavioral management.
“There’s a real focus on instructing behaviors,” Larson said.
The approach is meant to teach good behaviors rather than relying on punishment when a student misbehaves. Larson said that there is a generation of children with lower skills in self-regulation, suggesting that this in part because of ease and access of technology.
“They don’t have the skills to do that sometimes,” Larson said. He described the approach as “a shift from focus on consequences … to instruction.”
Larson held up Piqua Central Intermediate School as an example of a school that embraced the PBIS model, encouraging and instructing good behavior “the Indian way.”
“What we’re seeing at Piqua Central now is it’s now a model for PBIS,” Larson said.
Larson said that, for new schools taking on the PBIS approach, the school system would have to provide staff with support with training and create clear expectations for students, such as through consistent practices that are the same from teacher to teacher.
Larson used the example of telling students to “be quiet.” Some students may interpret that as meaning they can still talk quietly to a friend while the teacher may mean complete silence. Larson suggested taking common language that each of the teachers use and applying different levels to phrases like “be quiet” — levels that can indicate whether complete silence is needed or if whispering is allowed and so on — so students understand what their teachers expectations.
Also during the board’s meeting, Gooding recognized the board members by issuing a proclamation naming this month as School Board Recognition Month in Covington.
“Serving on a school board requires an unselfish devotion of time and service to carry on the mission and business of the school district,” Gooding said.
At the end of his proclamation, Gooding said, “I encourage all citizens to publicly and privately thank the school board members from all school districts serving this community for their dedicated service to our children.”
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