Marietta BOE approves energy upgrades
As a continued step in the upkeep and maintenance of aged buildings before classrooms reopen in the fall, the Marietta City Schools Board of Education approved the expenditure of lunchroom and capital improvement funds on energy efficiency upgrades in the high school cafeteria and concession stands Monday.
With the use of the Ohio Council of Educational Purchasing Consortia’s vetting program for qualified bidding, the school district will see another tight deadline on upgrades, following work at the former middle school under renovation for use as the upper elementary grades (Marietta Elementary School) and continued work at the remaining two lower elementary schools, Washington and Phillips.
The energy project was supported unanimously by the board members with discussion concerning the step toward investing in the old structures, and eyes what’s next: the roof on the high school.
But first, roofing on the middle school, a security entrance and foundation repairs are all underway between teachers’ painting new classrooms and work at the Washington Elementary playground shared with the city of Marietta.
Marietta Safety-Service Director Steve Wetz reported Monday that delays were experienced in the playground project with the resurfacing of an old question of archaeological concerns in proximity to the mound the Washington County Public Library was built upon.
“Basically we’ll have to pay for an archaeologist to be there and watch as the digging and work continues,” said Wetz prior to the board meeting.
Superintendent Will Hampton also noted in recognition Monday that the school district’s cheerleaders have been selected to perform at the Ohio State Board Association meeting this year, following successful competition on a national level this school year.
The team’s head coach, Sarah Snow, also highlighted the focus on community service for the students participating, with projects monthly to reinvest time and participation in the community.
Critical thinking curriculum
Tim Fleming, director of curriculum and technology, invited the board to participate in a reading to find common language as the district trains its staff on a new math curricula focused on critical thinking skills rather than rote memorization.
The book he handed to board members, “Mathematical Mindsets; Unleashing students’ potential through creative math, inspiring messages and innovative teaching” by Jo Boaler, he explained, helps to describe how the brain works in processing new information and points to the goals of the “portrait of a graduate” the district has charged the teachers with helping to fill in through their instruction.
The feedback for this invitation was positive from board members, with Doug Mallet noting that memorization to “spit it back out on a test” doesn’t teach problem-solving.
“You’ve got to be able to problem-solve and figure out how to utilize what’s out there,” he continued. “So I think that’s a good thing across the spectrum.”
Board Member Stacey Hall added that as a former teacher she was excited to see the shift and how it could apply cross-generationally to families in the district.
“For many years (families would) come in, maybe at a conference and the parents would say ‘I wasn’t good at math’ and the kid is sitting right there, hearing that. We forget how impactful it is for anyone to hear that, especially from an adult that’s a role model,” she noted. “You’re developing that child’s mindset by the way you’re feeding that child.”
She nodded to Ashland University and recent messaging from her college alma mater, too.
“We’re teaching how to think, not what to think,” she recalled. “And that’s a big step, I would say, in that approach and I think that goes along with that mindset.”
During the citizen forum portion of the board meeting multiple individuals spoke and/or attended on behalf of the Washington County Committee of Safety, a group that first advocated for the creation of a Second Amendment sanctuary in Washington County and has since branched into stems concerned with education and health oversight by citizens.
The group marshaled Tom Fenton, Jim Hartshorn, Latrelle Ellis, Keli Beeson, Bruce Haas, Tom Sherman, Lynn Stoll and Ron Stoll to request discussion on critical race theory, transgender participation in sports, inclusive sex education and mask-wearing.
They were directed to compile fears, questions and concerns for a more appropriate venue than three minutes speaking at the board.
“The core of what school is trying to do (is shared with) the core of people’s concerns: the experience of the student,” noted Board President Russ Garrison. “And if we can have that conversation of what their concerns are at the student level and what we’re trying to do at the student level, then we can find a common understanding. Then we can work through how do we do that for each student because the school’s obligation is to do that for each student with the diversity of beliefs and backgrounds that our students have.”
Garrison said he hopes to schedule a public meeting in September where a working session can provide that avenue for common understandings to emerge through dialogue.
“We’ll probably start with the aspect that we need to set the anger and reactions aside … the two emotions you use are our fear and hope … and fear is easier,” he reminded. “We’re not bringing that anger and fear into the school where we are focused on how to engage the students … And the purpose of the meeting will be to have that discussion at the level of what’s important for the students.”
Important, he explained, to prepare students to graduate with the skills to enter a diverse workforce, continue education and opportunity.
“And for them to be a lifelong learner, how to grow through all the situations and learning in life and how do all those things that you want,” said Garrison. “We may not reach agreement on how that gets done, but we can try to reach an agreement on what we’re trying to get done.”