Richland School Board February 12th Meeting

A common concern for local school districts was apparent during the February 12th meeting of the Richland School Board when District Administrator, Jerrod Burke, reported the Second Friday Pupil Count for the 2017-18 school year. This year’s number in the Richland District is 1392, down from the last four years of 1400 plus students.

High School Principal Jon Bosworth gave a report on the High School State Assessment Data. The data is taken from testing of Junior each year. It is broken into three categories. The first is in the area of student achievement. In the English, Language and Arts category students fell below the state average and fell into the Meets Few Expectations category. In the math category the Richland District placed above the state average in the Exceeds the Needs of Students. The second category is Closing Gaps which focuses on disadvantaged youth. Bosworth said that this is the category which brought the overall rating for the district down. In Closing Gaps, both English, Language and Arts, and Math... students fell significantly lower than the state average. The third category, Post Secondary, deals with graduation rates. The district falls slightly below the state average.

School administrators gave a presentation on the second quarter discipline report for the current school year. There has been an overall trend in increasing incidents this year. This years reported disciplinary occurrences district wide total 493 involving 286 students. It was also noted, while the number of incidents is higher, this number also includes school bus incidents. Jon Bosworth and Jamie Johnson stated that the biggest issue at the high school is with cell phone use. Bosworth stated he would like to see the school board reexamine the cell phone policies.

Richland School District IT Director, Todd Ostrander, reported that the district’s Online Academy has 22 full time students, 14 high school and 8 middle schoolers, with a handful of part time students. Ostrander says this year's success rate is greater than in the past and officials have seen a 20% growth rate in the program.

Richland County Health & Human Services Director, Patrick Metz, and Betsy Roessler, a specialist with Health & Human Services, presented information to the Richland School Board on the Drug Free Communities Grant. They requested the school district be the fiscal agent of the grant. As the fiscal agent Jarred Burke would be the facilitator of the grant. A plus for the district as the fiscal agent would be that the district would receive five percent of the $125,000 of the grant money. The board approved to act as the fiscal agent for the county in pursuing the grant.

The advisory group for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school calendars submitted two different options for the next two school years. The second suggestion is more like the current calendar of 180 days. The first option calls for 178 days. Both plans change the traditional spring break away from the fluctuation of the Easter holiday. The spring break would be more consistent and be held in the last week in March. Teachers also wanted more in service time. In order to accept the 178 day calendar the board would have to approve waiving the mandatory district policy of 180 days which is more than the state requirement of hours and minutes mandated. The board approved to waive the 180 day policy and go with option one of a 178 day calendar year.

In other action the board approved: a budget adjustment for the 2017-18 Carl Perkins School to Work Grant adding up to an additional $2,148; a Brightbytes Technology Survey; the gift of winter apparel to Jefferson Elementary from Peace United Methodist Church; and the gift of computer desks for the IT Department from Phoenix Computers.

Two school board meetings have been postponed due to school being closed early. Board members discussed whether the policy of closing school should cause school board meetings to be canceled as well. The board decided it would be best to hold meetings as close to scheduled as possible and to use good personal judgment on attending a meeting.