Open records, test scores dominate discussion
Clintonville Mayor Judy Magee spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, with pointed words for Superintendent Tom O'Toole regarding the public's access to information in board member packets. She also made her annual request for the annual report to include staff wages and benefits.
"It's very unfortunate that citizens can ask for a board packet and get nothing," Magee said. "Then, they have to either just accept it, or go to the District Attorney.
"Shame on you, Tom O'Toole. I can't believe your attorney told you that not all information is public record," Magee said. "You could email everything out to anyone who asks for it to save paper costs if that's a big concern."
Magee went on to challenge the media to represent the public on open records matters. She also challenged the school board to represent citizens with openness.
"I'm sure many things in your packet are open records," said Magee. "It's all under State Statutes Chapter 19 for all governing bodies and school districts."
O'Toole didn't back down from Magee's strong words. He also read a letter from the district's legal counsel regarding open records matters.
"I'll just consider the source when someone says 'shame on me'. It's ok, I'll deal with it, especially knowing who it is coming from," said O'Toole.
The letter from Robert W. Burns, of Davis & Kuelthau, S.C., outlined the district's responsibilities with regard to open records requests.
"Since there is no special provision which requires the production of board meeting materials in advance of a meeting, the district's practice of complying with the records request within a reasonable timeframe which might result in production on either side of the meeting date is in compliance with the law," said Burns in his letter to O'Toole.
Firemen's Festival Parade
Magee also touched on an issue between the district and the Clintonville Firemen's Association (CFA) regarding band participation in the Firemen's Festival parade.
According to CFA President Shane Krueger, the organization has donated $850 each year to the school for the participation of the band in the parade. However, according to Krueger, the CFA lost all funding from the city budget for use of the training facility at 36 Lens Court, effective in 2012. The CFA has now taken on additional building expenses, which limits their budget.
The CFA had asked the board to continue to support the Firemen's Festival with band attendance, but without the $850 donation from the CFA. However, before that request could be formally considered by the board, Krueger said he had received a phone call from a local business who wanted to help with the funding.
"I don't believe we have an issue to discuss for 2012," said Krueger's letter. "We understand the city is struggling and we only want to keep things moving in the right direction for our future."
The agenda item regarding the CFA and school band was tabled.
Three lengthy presentations came next, with Curriculum Director Chris Van Hoof presenting data on the WKCE and MAPs testing. Jen Soldner and Kris Strauman also gave a presentation on elementary math interventions from 2011-12, and staff members from Upward Bound also presented information on their program and the district's upcoming involvement.
Data from WKCE and MAPs test results was a highly anticipated point of the meeting, with a number of teachers, parents and community members in attendance.
Van Hoof presented data from both the WKCE tests and MAPs tests. Results from the WKCE tests were not encouraging for the district, but MAPs test data portrayed the district more favorably. The County Post East previously ran a story on the WKCE test results, and a story on MAPs test data will appear in the July 26 issue of the paper.
"Our community population in Clintonville is changing faster than we can keep up. The poverty rate here is high compared to other districts," said Van Hoof. "That's not an excuse-it's an explanation. WKCE scores are not what we want them to be. A few years ago, we shot ourselves in the foot when we chose to move our focus away from WKCE tests, because everyone thought that the WKCE was going to be done away with; but that hasn't happened. We will go back to our incentive and motivation programs next year. We don't know what impact they will have on test scores, but it won't be negative. Some kids give their best effort, and others don't."
Rick Recktenwald, plant manager at Walker Forge, expressed his concern over the test scores and how they relate to Walker Forge as an employer.
"We just completed a demographic survey of employees at Walker Forge," Recktenwald explained. "As of June 1, 29 percent of our employees-over 100 people-will probably retire over the next 10 years. We've hired over 90 people in the last two years. We only expect to entertain applicants from the Clintonville area.
"I don't know if this is going to work out," he continued. "If graduating students can't do math, solve problems, communicate effectively or demonstrate proper language skills, they can't help us. We need help. This is going to be a problem for us. I hope you can figure it out, because we're counting on you to provide us with quality employees far into the future."
Van Hoof explained that the district is adding value to the students it serves.
"MAPs results show we are doing a really good job with our kids, with a few exceptions," she said. "Our ACT results are still at state and national averages."
Recktenwald said the district probably sees improvement where they target their efforts.
"You collect a tremendous amount of data to help improve individual students," he said. "Why don't you do that for educators?"
Van Hoof responded by saying that they have not collected data on educators yet because there is no agreement on what data to use.
"We know exactly what needs to happen," she said. "We don't know how to do it yet, but we will be working on it. We do have a teacher mentorship program in place, and that's a step in the right direction."
Recktenwald went on to say he thinks the district isn't doing a good enough job of marketing the good things it has done.
"Somebody has to find out the good things going on," he said. "Tell people the WKCE data is important and it needs to improve. Stop worrying about what businesses need. Teach math. Help them learn the periodic table of the elements. Teach students how to effectively write a paragraph. Everyone has struggles and advantages; it's all about continuous improvement. That's why both the MAPs results and WKCE results are important-they help you improve on a micro and macro level."
The board went on to approve the following items:
• A budget adjustment for 2011-12, which transfers $34,148.37 from Fund 10 General Fund into Fund 50 Food Service Fund for the 2011-12 fiscal year;
• Hiring Jackie Drefahl as middle school yearbook advisor;
• Hiring Pam Skokan and Elly Brzezinski as middle school student council advisors (shared position);
• ESP transfers/changes;
• Hiring Donald Malueg to a Custodian II position, effective July 2, 2012;
• Resignation of Rhonda Hare from her Reading Teacher/Coordinator position;
• Resignation of John Dunlavy from his Phy Ed/Coaching positions;
• The purchase of a dishwashing machine for the middle school kitchen; and
• Policy 3252 (2nd reading) regarding food service fee increases to be effective with the 2012-13 school year.
The next regular meeting of the board of education is at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, at the middle school IMC. All school registration for 2012-13 will take place at the high school on Wednesday, Aug. 17 from noon to 7 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 18 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The board will hold another regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, at the high school auditorium, followed by a budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. and the Annual Meeting at 6:45 p.m.
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