Solar energy, school security considered by Highland Board of Education
By Randa Wagner -
Energy cost savings through solar energy and on-site security were two of many topics discussed at the February 13 Highland Board of Education meeting.
Board member John Messmer said the possibility of solar power for the three school buildings is being examined by the board.
“We’ve met with a solar outfit over the past month several times and it looks like a good opportunity for everybody in the community,” he explained. “We’ve got some more work to do on it but we hope by this time next month, we’ll have something to share that we’ll be moving forward with.”
Messmer said it would provide a great cost savings for the school district and the board will keep the public updated. Solar Planet of Westerville and Constellation Energy are the two companies that have been contacted.
Supt Dr. Bill Dodds said the school is getting closer to having a resource officer on campus full time, and the goal is to begin that in April.
“Our partnership is with the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “They have an officer in school resource training who will finish up in August. That is what we have found to be the safest and most secure way to protect our students beyond the measures we already take.”
Board President Eric Thacker said he sat in on a presentation given by Morrow County Hospital CEO Chris Truax regarding the proposed southern Morrow County urgent care-type medical center.
“He gave sort of a vision of what they’re hoping to do with it, and it ties in nicely with safety and security for our kids as well as health,” Thacker explained. “They’re going to have around 4,000 sq. ft. of therapy space and bring in specialists. If your children or grandchildren have participated in sports here, sometimes the very first caregivers they are with are the trainers associated with Morrow County Hospital. It will be nice to continue that communication, having specialists that will be based out of that new facility near the freeway and having licensed physical therapists there.”
Supt. Dodds said Gov. Kasich has come out with his new budget for schools, and it sounded very appealing to school districts at first, but that changed when figures were released.
“We shouldn’t be too disappointed yet, because they have a long way to go,” Dodds said.
“We were excited listening to the governor speak the other day because it sounded like lower wealth districts, such as ours, would see a significant increase,” added Treasurer Jon Mason. “We were disappointed when the numbers came out. All the county schools here saw no increase over last year. So I went back to 2009 when we had a budget based on enrollment – the last several budgets were based on the previous year. In plugging the governor’s new budget into what got in 2009, it’s actually a $500,000 decrease for us. But we’re a long way from June and this is just the governor’s proposal that still has to go through the Ohio House of Representatives. We’re still hopeful – good people are working hard to solve the issue. It’s very complicated. We’ll just work with what we can get and we’ve done that for many years.”
Supt Dodds commented about technology updates, saying they are looking for a 1:1 opportunity for the students at the high school and significantly increase the elementary schools with computers.
He also remarked about the idea of solar energy as ‘an opportunity for our district and our taxpayers to save money and put more into educating our students.’
Dodds noted the main focus for the administrative team has been to transition next year to the student growth measures: how students will be assessed and how schools will be evaluated.
“There’s a lot of school districts waiting to see what everyone else and the state is going to do, but we are going to press forward, and we have a great plan in place,” he said.
Eileen Ruffing presented two trios who performed at the Solo and Ensemble Contest and received superior ratings at the contest. She pointed out the students’ practice is done outside of band class in the students’ own time. A flute trio and saxophone trio performed for the board.
Elementary School Principal Shawn Winkelfoos said a bake sale fundraiser for a staff member was held February 13.
Starting March 7, students in grades 3, 4 and 5 will be identified for extra assistance in reading and math after school for an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Parent-teacher conferences will be held March 5 and 12 from 4 – 7 p.m.
The Harlem Wizards will be coming to play at Highland March 19 at 7 p.m. and there are still openings for players on the ‘Highland Hoop Stars’ team.
Middle School Principal Rob Terrill said he and Guidance Counselor Joe Oder and Dean of Students Lynn Thompson have collaborated on a plan to help students study more effectively for tests through a Study Skills Class. Starting Feb. 12 and the next two Tuesdays, the sixth grade will be counseled the last half hour of the day. On Wednesdays the seventh grade will receive instruction and on Thursdays the eighth grade will be counseled. They examined the national averages for suggested study times, and also wanted to let the students know what would be expected in the way of study when they get to college.
For the past five years the middle school has had a SCOTS program (Students Committed to Success) with 120–140 students involved. Terrill said the confidence the program gives the students transfers to the classroom. The students ride home on the elementary buses, which makes for some full buses, so the administration is re-evaluating the situation.
Vex Robotics has a middle-school only tournament coming up February 20. Highland is sending six teams to Tri-Rivers to compete in the World Qualifier and the top four can go to Aneheim to compete.
“We’re talking about how feasible it is to make that trip,” Terrill said. In competition, the Highland Middle School team has always been the top or second place middle school team, even against high school and college teams.
Parent/teacher conferences are February 21 from 2:30 – 8:30 p.m. The county spelling bee is being held at Highland Elementary March 7 and the Spring Concert is on March 11.
Asst. Principal Chad Carpenter reported nine BPA members will be competing in Columbus March 14 & 15. BPA will also be taking a team to the JA Titan Challenge on Friday, March 22 at the University of Akron.
Megan Oder and Kyle Minyo are moving on to the District Public Speaking and Job Interview contests for FFA on Feb 21 at Elgin High School.
Students Isaac Vermillion, Andrew Jackson, Andria Nelson and Nathan Clarke participated in the Brain Game quiz competition two weeks ago against Berlin Hiland. The match will be shown on Channel 10 in Columbus on Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.
A final meeting with Pearson regarding creating a digital academy will be held Feb. 27.
There was a girls’ basketball tournament at Utica on Feb. 16; wrestling sectionals at Licking Valley Feb. 16; Parent/Teacher conferences Feb. 21 from 2:30 – 8:30 p.m.; a high school band concert at the elementary school on March 1; early college night will be March 4 at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria; and OGT Week is March 11.
Amber Clay Mowery reported the Race to the Top program will be reviewed in March. Also, administrators are looking at student growth measures to prepare for the changes coming up required by the state for school evaluations.
The dates have been set in March, April and May to finalize the My Voice grant, which is about measuring student perception, their learning environment, what they have to say and then doing something about it.
Mike Hoyng recognized the wrestling team for winning the conference for the second time. He noted the girls team placed second and the boys bowling team placed first for the first time.
Hoyng spoke about the new MOAC league and said it’s going to change over a two-year period of time. Next year Highland’s division will consist of the four county schools, Fredericktown, Centerburg and Ridgedale. The second year Ridgedale will be leaving and the league will expand. Highland will play all the teams in their division twice.
Maintenance Supervisor Todd Belcher reported security systems are working properly. All windows on the perimeter of the building will have a 3 inch number on them indicating in case of an emergency where personnel unfamiliar with the layout have to get into a particular area of the building.
Belcher said the numbers on electricity consumption over the last five months are encouraging, indicating the buildings are beginning to operate in sequence as they should. There has been an 11% reduction over the same time period the previous year.
Other business and personnel
The list of graduates for the 2013 class was approved by the board, as was the 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C.
A resignation by supplemental contract from Pam Mosier Arnold as high school prom advisor was accepted.
The next regular board meeting will be March 13, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the high school cafetorium.