Belpre BOE hears about new club

BELPRE — The Belpre Board of Education met Monday to hear presentations on a new high school club and for an initial look at the state report card for Belpre City Schools.

Brooke Tucker of AmeriCorps presented the board with an overview of the HPAC club at Belpre High School. The “Health Professions Affinity Community” club encourages students to do service projects as well as developing their interest in health professions.

“The idea is to get young people involved in their school community and to have a larger view of their community and become invested in their community through projects,” she said. “It has to be a health project that shows a disparity in the community.”

Those disparities can be a variety of issues, from heart disease to obesity to substance abuse.

“The students identify what they see as issues in their community,” Tucker said.

The high school has about 35 student members in grades 9-12 and aside from a few introductory sessions, the club has only met once, she said. During that first meeting, the students identified issues of alcohol and poverty as areas of focus, she said.

The club plans to bring in guest speakers from health care and social services professions to talk to the students, and while there are advisers the community service project and research will be completely student driven, Tucker said.

The club has proven so popular, officials asked students in grades 7 and 8 whether they would be interested in a middle-school club. Tucker said more than 20 students showed interest.

“So we will have to do a new club at the middle school,” she said. “It’s a good problem to have.”

In other business, Director of Instruction Bernie Boice gave board members an initial packet of information on state scores for Belpre and its schools, but said the district had just begun to look through the information and would have a more thorough presentation at the board’s next meeting.

Superintendent Tony Dunn was unable to attend Monday’s meeting due to illness. Board President Fred Meredith said the board would delay discussion of state test scores until October due to Dunn being absent and to give board members more time to review Belpre City Schools’ scores.

“It is a lot of information to digest,” Meredith said. “We want to go through all the indicators as a board.”

Boice said an initial look indicated the district did not do well, but did see improvements in some areas. Both Boice and Meredith pointed out school systems throughout Ohio did poorly on the state report cards, and Boice said in some cases only a handful of the state’s 611 school systems scored higher than a D or F or even met certain indicators.

“I don’t want to believe that 600 districts are doing things wrong,” Boice said. “The data doesn’t really reflect what we are doing here.”

“This isn’t a Belpre thing, or a Washington County thing,” Meredith said. “It’s all across Ohio.”