Student achievement high on BOE agenda

By Belinda M. Paschal -

PIQUA — Much discussion was given to the subject of student achievement at all levels from primary to senior high during a work session that preceded the regular meeting of the Piqua City Schools board of education on Wednesday.

“The main purpose (of the work session) is looking at ways we can improve student achievement, determine what we do well, and what we need to adjust,” said PCS District Superintendent Rick Hanes. “We’re at a point in the year when we want to stop, adjust and analyze.”

Some 40-50 people attended the work session, including teachers (both current and retired), parent and student representatives, and community members. The attendees broke into groups representing Springcreek/Washington primary schools, Piqua Central Intermediate School, Piqua Junior High School, and Piqua High School, to brainstorm over a list of questions including:

What is working in your building to improve academic performance?

Responses ranged from tandem teaching and gifted to the Read 180 program and STEM curriculum.

“Being in one building is nicer; we’re able to be on the same page,” said a participant from the Piqua Central group.

What academically do you feel is not working in your building?

Reading deficits were of particular concern on the primary level, with group members noting that students in the lower grades often are able to read, but lack the critical, higher-order thinking to write a paragraph about what they have just read. As such, it was emphasized that Primary Educational Training Skills (PETS) should be continued beyond first grade and into second and third.

Are the academic needs of all students in your building being met? Are they all on or above grade level?

These questions were met with frustrated rounds of “No,” that were tinged with determination to find solutions to the problem. One suggestion was that “more rigor” is needed in the K-1 years to keep children on track in reading, writing and math skills.

At the regular meeting that followed, board treasurer Jeremie Hittle gave a brief mid-year review of the district’s financial performance, saying PCS is “on target to clear our ninth year in the black.”

Hittle added that the district’s audit is complete, but they are waiting on the state’s approval before it becomes public information.

In his update on the school buildings project, business coordinator and building project manager Curt South said succinctly, “We’re on schedule and on budget,” in addition to thanking “everybody who worked on the project. It was a long time coming … a job well-done by everybody.”

Hanes said he and South would continue to work together on improvements at the high school, as well as looking into the heating and ventilation system at the junior high.

Teresa Anderson, director of Student Services for PCS, announced that kindergarten registration for the 2016-17 school year will begin Feb. 8, at the following locations: PCS Board of Education office, 719 E. Ash St. (937) 773-4321, Ext. 6501; Springcreek Primary School, 145 E. U.S. Route 36 (937) 773-6540; and Washington Primary School, 800 N. Sunset Drive (937) 773-8472.

In other business, the board approved:

• A bid award in the amount of $182,240 to Cardinal Bus Sales for two 84-passenger transit type school buses.

• The diversity guideline recommendation that administrators interview a minority candidate when a position is available in the district.

• A proposal to seek bids on three LED, full-color display signs for the new school buildings.

The board also agreed to discuss in the future the possibility of pay-to-participate activities fees, and whether or not there should be an extracurricular graduation requirement.

The next regular board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 25, at Washington Primary School.

By Belinda M. Paschal

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.