Messmer newest board member at Highland
By Randa Wagner
John Messmer was sworn in as the newest Highland Board of Educaiton member at the October 10 regular meeting. Messmer replaces Galen Chapman, who resigned last month.
The term Messmer is filling expires at the conclusion of 2013. Board President Eric Thacker and Superintendent Dr. Bill Dodds welcomed Messmer, saying he was chosen from among four other outstanding candidates. Dodds reminded meeting attendees that there are four seats on the board that will be on the ballot next year, and the community will have an opportunity to select from a number of quality candidates.
Board member reports
Bill Short stated the schools will be getting grade cards from the state after all. He also gave credit to the past school board for providing additional classrooms that allowed for potential growth (citing other districts that did not).
Short also referred to an article in USA Today that stated Advanced Placement (AP) classes are widening the opportunities for students across the nation. In comparing Highland to other districts, he felt Highland has the advantage with their college level class options.
Superintendent Dr. Bill Dodds explained that students at Highland have the opportunity to earn the equivalent of two years of college during high school, as well as dual-credit courses that are not advanced placement. Post-Secondary Enrollment Options are also offered at Highland.
“So if a student were to plan everything out just right, they would leave here with two years of college,” Dodds said, noting it provides a savings in college credits.
“These college credits are part of a Transfer Assurance Guide,” Dodds explained. “So whether you get it at MTC, Ohio State, Miami of Ohio or wherever it is, it goes to any of these other colleges. Our students take more college classes than any other school in the area, according to MTC’s statistics of last year.”
“We’re also looking at adding possibly three more next year,” High School Principal Nathan Huffman said, “bringing back the AP Statistics, AP U.S. History and Financial Accounting 2. Right now we have nine opportunies with different types of course work to get college credit. That’s not including anything that students can take online as an independent study.”
“It’s really a credit to our teachers,” Dodds added. “It creates a lot of extra work for them. We always asks for volunteers. It’s a lot of extra work and no extra pay, so it’s a tribute to our staff.”
Board President Eric Thacker affirmed the college savings through his daughter’s extra course work.
Supt. Dodds said six-week grade cards were issued for the middle and high students; elementary students are still on nine-week grading periods. Dodds also noted that on reports of eligibilty for student athletes, students grades are significantly higher this year than they were last year at what would have been a nine-week period. District reports cards were due to come out October 17.
Dodds also mentioned the Third Grade Reading Assessment Program is in effect for this year and Principal Shawn Winkelfoos, Principal Deb Knechtley and Curriculum Director Amber Clay-Mowry are prepared and have a plan.
Clay-Mowry gave an update on the Race to the Top program, saying they are looking at ways to help each child grow and reach goals, focusing on progress-monitoring tools so they are aware of where each child is academically. She said they are also looking at partnering with other schools to make their funds go further and aggregate some of their resources to seek additional funding to provide the best opportunties for students.
Treasurer Jon Mason presented the October five-year forecast to the board along with title funding for the coming year.
Marengo Village Council President Mike Baker expressed concern over the Marengo youth ballfields remaining a public-use area. He suggested the board could donate the green space used for ballfields in Chesterville and Marengo to Highland Park to allow the park to expand into those areas. This would ensure the other properties would remain like an ‘open park’ area for the kids to play in, he said.
“The board’s been consistant [in that] we want the utility of the green space to remain with the kids,” Thacker said.
“I keep hearing that but then I keep hearing scuttlebutt about other things,” Baker said. “I would feel a lot more comfortable if it was in the hands of people that’s going to ensure those properties are going to stay for the use of the community.”
Gena Wiley, serving as a substitute teacher with the schools, commended the staff. “I have seen such dedication and hard work, it’s amazing,” she said, citing that the learning process is all-inclusive with the children who are learning disabled. “It’s a wonderful atmosphere,” she said.
Middle School Principal Rob Terrill said parent-teacher conferences were coming up November 15, after the second six-week grading period, and again in the Spring in late February.
Terrill also said they are in the process of looking into the robotics program as a club this year, looking how they could fit it into the curriculum eventually. Nine robots are currently at the middle school and they have applied for a grant for three more. Terrill said they hope to get between 30 — 40 students involved in the club this year with three students to a team.
Elementary Principal Winkelfoos reported third graders took the fall reading achievement test and results were mailed out. Information about the Third Grade Guarantee was mailed out to parents as well. A plan is developed for each child who is not reading at the level they should be and their progress is monitored.
Parent-teacher conferences for the elementary school are November 8 and 15 from 4 — 7 p.m. A fall music concert is scheduled for late November. November 2, students will be celebrating fall with a parade around Highland Park. Parents and volunteers will be passing out candy and dressing up starting at 1 p.m with kindergarteners, then other grades.
Winkelfoos also said a new club, God’s Kids, started at the elementary school. The program is run by three area churches and a hundred students are participating. Last year the club had 40 — 60 students.
High School Principal Nathan Huffman said parent-teacher conferences for high school students were scheduled for October 18. Freshman were to take the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) tests; sophomores would take the PLAN, and the top 30 juniors would take the PSAT test. Grades for high school students are issued electronically as a cost saving measure. Paper copies are not sent home until a parents calls in and requests it.
An after-school intervention program is being started for any student who feels they need extra help. The program is for an hour Monday through Thursday. A school store is under consideration and in the development stage.
Transportation Supervisor Loretta Copeland reported bus routes are set and buses log over 2,000 miles a day on their routes. Counts are: 992 students are on the high school route, 892 on the elementary level, 44 on the Tri-Rivers bus and 31 in the preschool program. The two new buses are on the road and the gate is working at the garage now. The cameras on the buses are working correctly.
Food Service Director Debbie Hart said numbers are down on free and reduced lunches. There are 699 students (38%) in the program. A ‘burrito bar’ is a new feature that is being tested as an entree with students.
The following requests were approved:
Maternity leave for Sarah Thistlewaite; a one-year contract for Erin Carpenter as School Health Nurse; supplemental contracts for Ashley Ball, Head Varsity Girls Softball Coach; Derek Bower, Head High School Girls Track Coach; Zach Hilborn and Rob Mosher, 7th Grade Boys Basketball Coaches.
The next regular Highland School Board meeting will be held Tuesday, November 13 in the high school cafetorium at 7 p.m.