Warren makes plans for Straight A program

VINCENT – At the regular board meeting Monday, the Warren Local Schools Board of Education discussed further plans to prepare the district for Straight A Fund changes that will affect both teachers, students and curriculum.

The Straight A Fund, part of a $15 million grant that was distributed to several area districts, including Warren, sets parameters for teachers and curriculum that all schools are currently in the process of meeting.

Along with the educational benefits and the impact on teachers, the grant will help the district continue to enhance its resources by networking and collaborating with the 26 other districts that received grant money.

“In our district, we’ll be getting our teachers credentialed to teach articulated classes-articulated meaning they can count for college credit,” said board member John Nichols, a member of the Learning Instruction and Assessment Committee.

Nichols said the district currently has eight teachers, and hopes to have 10 eventually, that are ready to go through the process or getting extra training through the Straight A grant so they could teach high school classes that count for college credit.

“Picture those post-secondary option students, rather them leaving our buildings to go to Washington State or Marietta College, they can take those classes here,” Nichols said.

Public school districts receive $5,745 for each student enrolled at their own facilities, so students going elsewhere means a loss in revenue. Keeping more students in district facilities to receive college credit means those districts can save that money.

Along with the theme of learning instruction and assessment, Warren has formulated its own plan to comply with the state of Ohio’s new Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The standard is tied to the third grade Ohio Achievement Assessment for reading, stating that students who do not score at least a 392 on the test must be retained to their third grade reading class.

“We’re looking for ways to promote that student into other portions, like math, so they’re not behind in all courses,” Nichols said. “It’s a benefit to them socially and academically.”

Districts are given the option of completely holding back a student who does not pass either of the two reading assessments given during the third grade, or promoting them into the fourth grade in all other aspects but working with them at the third grade reading level.

“We only have a small group of students that didn’t pass in the fall, and I’m confident that number will be much smaller once the spring test is administered,” said superintendent Kyle Newton. “Warren Local does excellent in reading instruction.”

Newton explained that Warren will be taking advantage of the state’s recent decision to allow for intervention programs, where students who do not pass by the end of their third grade year can be funneled into alternative reading instruction courses so they can be promoted to the fourth grade.

“We’ll have summer intervention, essentially summer school, available for those students,” Newton said.

The board also announced that with the utilization of three blizzard bag days and the state recently granting four extra calamity days to help offset the growing number of snow days, Warren will only have three days left over to make up.

As a result, students will be in school during the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the originally scheduled spring break.

Board member Willie Holbert also brought up one of the policy changes the board approved to comply with state law, which is for mandatory drug testing for district personnel to hold a commercial driver’s license, in this case applying to bus drivers.

Holbert brought up that it might be in the board’s interest to bring drug testing onto a level playing field some time down the road.

“I would raise my hand at a board meeting and volunteer to be drug-tested, so why don’t we just start testing everyone?” Holbert said.

The board recognized that this policy was just to comply with state law, but said any further decision to drug test other personnel would have to include a discussion with the teacher’s union.

In addition, the board also approved:

– The graduation of the class of 2014, which totals 192 students

– An overnight stay for 96 students from all four district schools to attend the Ohio Science Olympiad State Tournament on April 25 and April 26

– The compensation of four Ohio University students placed in the district for student teaching, in the amount of $194.47 each for one semester.