Larson to leave post

Thompson to be assistant superintendent

By Belinda M. Paschal -




PIQUA – After 18 months on the job, Piqua City Schools Assistant Superintendent David Larson gave his resignation before the board of education on Thursday night.

Larson, who took the position of assistant superintendent in August 2014, has accepted a position as curriculum director at the Miami County Educational Services Center. His resignation will be effective at the end of the 2015-16 contract year. Prior to coming to Piqua City Schools, Larson was superintendent of the Covington Exempted Village School district.

“The best thing about (the assistant superintendent) position is that I got to work with some great people, terrific experts in education who care a whole lot about kids,” Larson said. “I also learned a lot from the curriculum and service directors; that’s part of what made this new position so intriguing.”

Larson will be succeeded by Dwayne Thompson, who currently is director of curriculum and instruction for Piqua City Schools. A former student of the district where he works, Thompson has a lengthy resume with the district, having taught at South Street, Favorite Hill and Bennett schools, before serving as principal of Favorite Hill for several years.

After his appointment as the new assistant superintendent for the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 school years, Thompson briefly thanked the board, saying, “I appreciate your vote of confidence.”

The district’s state report card for 2014-15 was again a source of consternation, as data released this week continues to paint an unflattering academic portrait of PCS.

For instance, in the category of Achievement, the district’s performance index received a letter grade of C, indicating that 70 percent of students passed the state test. The second result in the Achievement category — indicators met — answers the question, “How well did students do on the state test?” for which the district received an F.

PCS also received F’s in Progress, for its students in math and reading, grades 4-8. This looks at how much each student learns in a year, and whether or not they got a year’s worth of growth. Gap Closing also received an F. This grade shows how well all students are doing in reading, math, and graduation. It answers the question, “Is every student succeeding, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, or disability?”

Despite the dismal results, Superintendent Rick Hanes noted that Peggy Lehner, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, had warned that scores would drop.

Hanes said there are still “a lot of questions with the accuracy of the data,” because of the testing methods. The data is based on the much-criticized PARCC testing, which has been eliminated since students sat for the one-time-only tests.

“We recognized that during the first few years, we would have some struggles,” Hanes said.

Still, there is a lot of hard work being done to address the gaps in student achievement, he added, citing early literacy initiatives, all-day every day kindergarten, professional development, programs like Read 180 and Eureka math, hiring additional teachers, encouraging family engagement, and numerous other measures.

“We’re looking at a standards-based report card for next year, which will be much more specific,” Hanes said. “The tests that were used last year will no longer be used in the state of Ohio.”

The full district report card can be viewed at

The board discussed the possibility of waiving pay to participate and school fees for the upcoming school year. In the previous year, pay to participate fees amounted to $25,114 and school fees more than $102,000, according to Jeremie Hittle, treasurer and chief financial officer.

Admitting that he was in favor of the waiver, Board President Frank Patrizio said, “We’re in a position where we can do it.” The board, however, agreed to discuss the matter further at its next meeting, asking Hittle to present figures for 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent reductions in the fees.

Three recommendations on the agenda were geared toward attracting new bus drivers and retaining current ones, including increasing the TR-3 Extra Trip (extracurricular trip) Compensation for drivers from $12.39 an hour to $16 per hour, effective Feb. 28.

Kindergarten screening and registration for 2016-17 was set for April 5 and 9 at Springcreek Primary School, and April 7 and 9 at Washington Primary School. Both schools also will host kindergarten kickoffs on the following dates:

• Springcreek: 6:30 p.m. March 14 for last names A-M; 6:30 p.m. March 17 for last names N-Z

• Washington: 6:30 p.m. March 7 for last names A-M; 6:30 p.m. March 10 for last names N-Z

The board approved several items, including:

• An overnight/extended student trip for the Piqua High School girls’ basketball team to basketball camp at Belmont University in Nashville, from June 16-19.

• An overnight/extended student trip for the Piqua High School show choir to Heart of America competition in Cincinnati from March 4-5.

• Holding the secondary summer school program at Piqua Junior High School from June 6-24.

• Holding the summer OGT program at Piqua High School from June 6-24.

The board of education’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. March 22, at Piqua High School.


Thompson to be assistant superintendent

By Belinda M. Paschal

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

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