Members

School board members discussed staying ahead of the ever-changing educational landscape at their Nov. 19 meeting.

Superintendent Ed Vittardi expressed his disappointment in the failed school bond issue during the Nov. 19 school board meeting. Still, he expressed gratitude towards those who voted for it.

“I am an eternal optimist and was encouraged by the 8,000 voters who supported the bond issue,” he said.

He thanked members of the planning committee for their tireless work. Vittardi hinted at a possible survey to gauge issues pertaining to a future bond issue that may be in the works for January.

The school board approved the five-year forecast and assumptions. Board member Dan Lagshaw questioned if by his calculations the district would be looking at an operating levy in approximately 2014. Treasurer Richard McIntosh said that without knowing what state funding would look like and other economic factors, it was too early to tell when an operating levy would be required.

Board member Barbara Ann Zindroski encouraged the district to reflect on offering greater flexibility and broader hours when planning parent-teacher meetings. Taking into consideration that today’s parent often works a full-time job, organizations like PTA should offer evening meetings.

Teacher retirement

Zindroski also presented information disseminated at the Capitol Conference regarding the changing retirement landscape. She shared changes to the State Teacher Retirement System implemented by House Bill 342. These changes include: to receive unreduced benefits, members must be a minimum age of 60 with 35 years of service and a minimum of 30 years of service for a reduced benefit. The final average salary is based on the five highest years of earnings. Retirees would see a 2 percent simple cost of living adjustment after 60 months. Members’ contributions will increase as of July 1, 2013 at 1 percent per year for a total incremental increase of 4 percent.

District Report Card

Langshaw, board legislative liaison, reported changes regarding the Ohio school district report card and academic accountability system.

“While changes have been proposed, legislative leaders have determined that more time is needed to develop an acceptable plan,” he said.

The Ohio School Board Association, Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials are lobbying for the following considerations. They include changes to Ohio’s academic report card system that must be linked to Ohio’s movement to the new Common Core Standards and that a “dashboard” approach to a new report card system is appropriate, one that provides specific information in a number of areas about the school district’s performance. While a “dashboard” approach would be effective in giving parents, students and the community useful information about the district, it must not be used as a way to “punish” districts.

Leaders of these organizations have expressed the desire to avoid the development of a composite or average score. They argue that this would undermine the transparency of the various report card components. Furthermore, they believe that a composite score would make it impossible to determine an appropriate “weight” for each component.

Above all, educational leaders seek a report card system that will allow for flexibility during the implementation period.

Students are not the only ones to soon have new standards for evaluation as board member Anne Reinkober reported on a workshop she and other members of the board attended that focused on new evaluation systems for teachers, principals and superintendents. Changes in assessments will now be tied more closely to student growth and performance in core standard areas.

The district has had a keen eye on the changes to the evaluation system.

“I should say that our district has been working on this in collaboration with our teachers for nearly a year,” said Board President Dr. John Kelly.

He also gave high marks to the district for their proactive evaluation systems for administrators, treasurer and superintendent, all of which are in alignment with the recommended rubric.

Kelly attended a school law update seminar held by law firm Pepple and Waggoner regarding a variety of legal issues. Some of the topics brought to the forefront were: restraint and seclusion changes, collective bargaining issues and trends and issues related to “bring your own device” for instruction.

Transportation

Transportation liaison and board member Reinkober reported that in the first week of October drivers collected data for the annual Ohio Department of Education Mileage and Ridership report. The fleet, consisting of 50 route buses and two vans, traveled 3,221 miles and transported 3,211 students per day. While the district has one less route and travels 65 miles per day, it is transporting 24 more students than the previous year.

“Mechanics addressed 109 repairs and are hard at work preparing for the upcoming Highway Patrol Spot Inspections,” Reinkober said.

Building and grounds

As Buildings and Grounds liaison, Kelly also reported that all the schools suffered damage from superstorm Sandy with the most significant damage inflicted upon the high school and middle school. In addition to storm damage, Valley Vista Elementary School is suffering from a broken boiler. While the school has two boilers, it is not capable of running with just one unit. With the onset of freezing weather right around the corner, the issue will have to be addressed to prevent pipes from freezing.

AP update

School Board Member Heidi Dolezal reported that three level 3 foreign language courses have been added to the high school’s offerings. There are now three Spanish, one French, and one German level 3 classes, paving the way for a future AP, or advanced placement, foreign language program.

“In our district, 206 students are taking AP classes; 67 of these students take more than one AP class,” said Dolezal.

She also shared with the board that next year the high school is looking at the possibility of offering some courses for duel credit.

Gift and donations

The board accepted and acknowledged the following donations: a VCR and portable cassette and CD player to Albion School from Nyla Munir and Hafeez Toor, M.D.; $25 donation to principal’s account for purchase of any item needed for North Royalton Middle School from George Newman; flat screen TV, camcorders, blank DVDs and computer to North Royalton School District from Mr. and Mrs. Joe Dorman; dinner for staff members on Conference Night Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 to North Royalton Middle School from Chick-fil-a who provided the food and South Point Community Church who delivered and served the food as a thank you to the teachers and musical shapes to Early Childhood Center Music Department from Beth Iafigliola.

The next meeting of the North Royalton School Board is Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.

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