Piqua BOE approves new Washington Elementary principal


By Matt Clevenger

[email protected]

PIQUA — Members of the Piqua City Schools Board of Education have approved the selection of Heather Koehl to serve as principal at Washington Elementary School starting at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

“I’m very excited to be here,” Koehl said.

A resident of Arcanum, Koehl has been involved in education for 29 years. She started her career at Milton-Union Elementary School, where she worked as a teacher and as assistant principal. She has also served as elementary principal and director of curriculum at Northridge Local Schools.

For the last six years, she has worked with the Montgomery County Educational Service Center.

“We’re excited to have her onboard,” assistant superintendent Tony Lyons said. “It’s going to be a great addition to the team.”

“She does not only bring the experience, but the expertise with that experience as well,” he said.

Board members approved Koehl for the position during their regularly scheduled meeting held on Thursday, June 22. In other business, board members also heard the first reading of proposed revisions to the district’s random drug testing policy, including wording changes and revisions to the districts policy on when students can return to activities after a positive test result.

“The old policy just said alcohol and drugs,” district superintendent Dwayne Thompson said. “We wanted to specify that it actually does test for alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs.”

Under the proposed changes, students who have tested positive for would also be required to show a negative test result before they are allowed to return to activities.

“We would like to have it where the student has to come back with a negative test,” Thompson said. “Our hope would be that since they’re going to see a counselor they would start that process, and immediately we would see those results.”

The changes would also allow students who have tested positive to attend summer practices or conditioning as long as they can show a negative test result or declining numbers.

“What this says is that you can go to those practices, provided that you do the monthly random testing over the summer months and you’re either reducing your number or you’re at a zero for testing positive,” Thompson said. “That way, the kid doesn’t miss a whole season because they didn’t get to do the conditioning or participate in summer practices.”

“This just gives the kid another chance to maintain the program,” he said.

Board members took no action on the policy revisions during their meeting; the changes will be presented for a second reading at the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, July 17.

Board members went on to approve an upcoming overnight trip to the Eastern Ohio Basketball Camp for the Piqua High School girls basketball team, and the removal of busses number two, number 13 and number 25 from the district’s inventory for disposal.

Board members also approved the adoption of new math curriculums, including Imagine Learning Illustrative Mathematics for grades nine through 12, Desmos Mathematics for grades seven and eight, and envision Mathematics for kindergarten through sixth grade.

“At the primary and intermediate level we surveyed the teachers, took all of their input and created a rubric,” K-6 curriculum director Teresa Anderson said. “We had teachers nominate themselves or others to be part of a committee; that committee then reviewed a number of different products.”

“All of the products we looked at were highly-rated,” Anderson said. “We have representatives from every grade level, as well as our mathematics coaches as part of the teams to evaluate resources.”

“We spent the better part of the year going through this,” curriculum director Scott Bloom said. “We were using quality materials; they weren’t aligned really well with each other. A lot of them were purchased before state standards changed.”

Board members also approved the appointment of Carolyn Pearson to the Piqua Public Library Board of Trustees, and introduced new student board representative Braden Holtvogt.

“I’m excited to see the ins and outs of how the school district works and how decisions are being made,” Holtvogt said.

Board members also heard an update on a recent job fair that was held for transportation positions with the district. A total of 19 current Piqua Schools bus drivers participated in the job fair, talking with job seekers and discussing the bus driver positions.

“We had an incredible turnout,” Lyons said. “It took all morning to get everybody through.”

“We had nine people show up for the civil service from that group, to take the test,” he said. “They all passed it, so we have nine people right now who have to go to the next step of getting their CDL passenger permit and then starting to training with us.”

“We’re excited about that process,” Lyons said. “It sounds like we might start doing job fairs for a lot of our classified positions in the future, if we get those results.”

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