Policy Change Takes Effect

NEW KNOXVILLE — Third-grade students will soon be required to be reading at a certain level before they are able to move on to the fourth grade after Senate Bill 316 passed earlier this month.   

“All students entering the third grade must demonstrate a certain level of competency in reading before advancing to the fourth grade,” New Knoxville Superintendent Kim Waterman said Thursday night at the New Knoxville Board of Education meeting. “Almost all the provisions of this new law take effect this school year.”

Waterman noted she and a team of teachers are working on a plan to ensure the school meets all the requirements and added she does not anticipate any issues.

“It just shows how blessed we are in this area,” she said. “We feel we’re not going to have an issue with this because we do many of the things that it’s asking schools to do. We do give diagnostics for all K-3 students, we see where they’re at, we identify kids that may be struggling in phonics or comprehension or fluency, and that’s why we have Ms. Kay on staff. She helps kids get to their best potential in reading, and I think that’s one of the reasons we have been successful in what we do.”

According to the new requirements, all of the third-grade students last year would have been able to move on to fourth grade.

“We strongly feel we won’t have an issue,” Waterman said. “Even looking at our data this year, we wouldn’t have one third-grade student retained.”

Though most of the new requirements must be put into effect this school year, current third-grade students will not be retained if they do not meet the new standard.

“This does not affect the third graders this year, this affects the second graders for the retention rule,” Waterman said. “All the other stuff we are mandated to do this school year.”

Senate Bill 316 lays out a slew of mandates for the school, she said.

“We’ll have to report to the state, we’ll have to add a few things to the letters we send home to parents at interim time, we’ll have to have conversations with parents of kids that aren’t on track, we will have to provide summer interventions,” she said.

“If we were to have somebody in third grade that would have to be retained, that child needs 90 minutes of intensive instruction, but they can move on to fourth grade in all other subjects. They must be retained in third grade for reading.”

Waterman also updated board members on the district’s STEM grant, which the district earned as a part of a team of area schools, including New Bremen, Ansonia, Fort Recovery and Mississinawa Valley.

“We wrote a STEM grant two years ago, but the state put us on hold to not start funding until this school year,” Waterman said. “When we wrote that grant, it was a four-year grant — we knew what we wanted to do in year one, year two, year three and year four. That’s changed things.”

Waterman noted she had a meeting with the STEM grant team, which decided each district will be designated its $50,000 share to incorporate on its own.

“We can incorporate some of the things that were in that grant but we can make it our own,” she said, noting she has begun working on some ways to use the money.

“We have already ordered EIE (Engineering is Elementary) units and other possibilities thrown around is actual STEM training, project-based learning training — project-based is also related to our Race to the Top goals. We could have a summer STEM camp. New Bremen and Fort Recovery currently do this ... Targeting some classes to use technology and looking at their data, how they use that technology to advance their kids.”

In other business, board members:

• Approved the meeting’s agenda.

• Noted Back–to-School Night for K-6 will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and for 7-12 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 10.

• Heard a reminder from Waterman to use caution while driving around town with the school buses.

“They need to stop when they see those red lights 10 feet back,” she said. “If they run those lights, it’s that bus driver’s job to report that immediately.”

• Approved a list of supplemental employment contracts.

• Approved the resignation of Nick Wirwille, junior high cross country coach.

• Approved a resolution to declare transportation impractical for New Knoxville School District for one student to St. Marys City Schools. In lieu of transportation, the Board of Education agrees to pay Charles and Carolyn Edwards for transportation at the end of the 2012-13 school year based on completion of the school year.

• Approved the employment of Kathy Frankenberg, teacher, for the 2012-13 school year. Board member Steve Frankenberg abstained.

• Approved the 2012-13 bus and van routes. The superintendent may make necessary changes to the routes when necessary throughout the school year.

The next regular meeting of the New Knoxville Board of Education will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in the media center.