By TOM GIAMBRONI
LISBON - The Lisbon school board has been advised to prepare for a mandate from Columbus requiring third-grade students pass a reading proficiency test before they can advance to the fourth grade.
Approved by the state legislature in June and signed into law by the governor, the bill requires any third grader who fails to read at a yet-to-be determined level must repeat third grade starting with the 2013-14 school year.
"Obviously, that is something that's important, but how you get there and achieve these things can be difficult," said Superintendent Don Thompson at last week's board meeting.
Thompson said their goal has always been for all students to achieve reading proficiency, and they have intervention programs in place to help them. He pointed out if the law had been in effect this past year, 30,000 students statewide would have been forced to repeat third grade.
The district will bear the entire cost of trying to comply with the new law. "The one thing you can guarantee with the state is there is no money behind it," Thompson said.
In other action at the meeting, the board rehired two retired high school teachers to their old jobs but on a part-time basis, as the district continues to address the need for less teachers due to declining enrollment.
Rehired were Debra Whitmore as home economics teacher and Connie Beltempo as health/physical education teacher. Both will be paid $21,228.
The pair retired at the end of the school year, and Thompson said this is an experiment of sorts to determine if the district can continue to meet student needs with part-time teachers instead of abolishing the positions.
"We'd like to see if we can do more with less," he said.
The board also hired Charles Little for $46,375 to serve as the coordinator of the district's new online school, which was created in the hopes of halting and reversing the loss of students to other cyber schools. Last year, the district had 61 students who left for online schools, resulting in a loss of $137,760 in state funding.
The parents of those 61 were contacted and made aware of the district's new online school, as were all students, and those efforts are starting to bear some fruit.
"Three students were going to go to an online school and we convinced them to give our online school a try," Thompson said.
High school principal Joe Siefke reported the high school now has a Facebook page and Twitter account students and parents alike can access to keep current on school news and events. The Facebook site currently has 51 "likes."
Thompson reported 300 to 400 people attended the back-to-school event held last weekend at the community swimming pool. Sponsored by the ADAPT Coalition, local ministerial association and school districts, children who showed up received a free haircut, clothes and school supplies.
In other action, the board:
- Established hourly pay rates for the classified substitute non-teaching positions: bus drivers, $10; tutor, $12; home instructor, $18; and custodian, secretary, cook and aide, $7.70.
- Established daily pay rates for substitute teachers: $80 for 1-59 days; $90 for 60-89 days; $100 for 90-119 days; $115 for 120-180 days.
- Hired Lynne Grove as intervention tutor for $31,964, contingent upon federal funding being received for the position, and Amanda Adkins and Jennifer Russo as summer school instructors at McKinley Elementary School.
- Contracted with North Star Critical Care of Glenmoor to provide ambulance services for the fall athletic system on an as-needed basis, for $35 an hour; and with Ohio Sports and Spine to provide athletic training services for $50 per week and $75 for games and scrimmages.