TROY — The Troy City Schools Board of Education discussed the results of the district’s annual state report card during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Monday, Oct. 10.
“There’s a lot of information in that report card,” district Superintendent Chris Piper said. “Our district got 21 out of 25 stars, and that puts us in the top 15% of districts in the state of Ohio. That was according to an analysis the Plain Dealer did up in Cleveland.”
The state report card ranks Ohio districts using a star-based rating system in five different areas, including achievement, progress, gap-closing, high school graduations and early literacy.
“There’s a lot to celebrate,” Piper said. “Troy High School had the third highest in the state.”
“We had the 19th highest growth score in the state of Ohio, out of 610 districts,” he said. “Troy High School had the third highest in the state.”
Like most Ohio school districts, Troy City Schools also failed to meet some indicators, mainly due to low state proficiency test scores.
“Many, many schools did not pass those tests,” Piper said. “I think this is really important to keep in mind.”
“It is our goal, according to our strategic plan, to be in the top 10 of school districts or improving by two from year to year,” Piper said.
Board members attributed the district’s success on the report card to its teachers and staff members.
“They’re pretty impressive results,” Board President Sue Borchers said. “It was a grueling last couple of years.”
“Our staff is second to none,” Board Vice-President Michael Ham said.
In other business, board members also saw a presentation by Heywood Elementary School Principal Maurice Sadler and third-grade-teacher Tyler Bunck on the school’s new “soft-start” program, which aims to help students get a more positive start to their school day.
Under the program, students at Heywood start their day with a “walk and talk” period, followed by approximately 15 minutes of activities that they choose before starting their school day as usual.
“At Heywood, soft-start begins with a school-wide walk and talk from 8:30 to 8:45 (a.m.), and that takes place on our track outside,” Bunck said. “They just get the opportunity to talk to their friends out there.”
“For the first 15 minutes of the school day, my students can choose where to work,” she said. “They can choose to work alone or with others, and they can choose an activity that challenges their mind or an activity that calms them; the choice is theirs.”
“I have pattern-block puzzles, word games, magnetic blocks and LEGOs,” Bunck said. “I don’t allow my students to access computers during soft-start.”
“This sort of start benefits all kids,” Sadler said. “This is an initiative school wide, kindergarten through fifth-grade. Everybody starts their day with a soft-start.”
“The staff has embraced it,” Sadler said. “We have noticed an increase in student on-task behaviors during the learning time. We’ve also noticed a decrease in severe discipline referrals to the office.”
“This is all about preparing kids, and getting kids ready to be academically engaged,” Sadler said.
Board members also heard an update on the installation of new heaters at the junior high school building. The new heaters were supposed to be installed before school started this year, but supply-chain issues have caused delays in getting new units delivered.
“We are still waiting on three units,” district Treasurer Jeff Price said. “We made the decision a week ago to re-install three old units, along with the one new unit that had been delivered so we would have heat if the weather cools down severely.”
“We have heat moving forward,” Price said. “Those were lifted and placed on Saturday. I believe they are all three operational.”
The district ordered replacement units but they are still waiting for parts; the estimated cost of temporarily re-installing the old units is around $26,000.
“We have been given no further information,” Price said. “Those three units are still sitting in Mexico, waiting on control boxes.”
“We’re probably looking at Thanksgiving or Christmas,” he said. “They cannot lift-off units or lift-on units while we are occupied.”
Board members went on to approve an overnight trip for the boys basketball team to Mt. Vernon on Nov. 11 and 12, as well as a resolution authorizing reimbursement in lieu of transportation for students in certain situations. “
We are required to transport students who live in our district but choose to go to other charter or private schools within a 30-minute radius of our district,” Piper said. “There are some instances where that is impractical for us to do, for many reasons. In those instances, we are able to offer parents payment in lieu of transportation.”
Board members also observed a moment of silence for Gail Bulach and Doyle Holfinger. Bulach served as an elementary school teacher at Concord Elementary for 35 years, and passed away on Sunday, Sept. 25. Holfinger began working for Troy City Schools as a bus driver in 1981, moving to food service delivery/maintenance in 1997, and retired last December. Holfinger passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
Board members also approved a resolution re-authorizing the hiring of substitute teachers without a bachelor’s degree, as long as they have experience as teacher aides or are currently in school to become teachers.
“This doesn’t mean that we will have just anyone be a substitute teacher,” Piper said. “They still have to be qualified and have a license to substitute, but it does allow us to expand our pool.”
Board members also approved a resolution proclaiming Nov. 14 through 18 as American Education Week.
“It’s a good chance to remember to celebrate the good work that our staff and everyone does,” Piper said. “We appreciate them very much.
The board of education’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 5:30 pm on Thursday, Nov. 17 at the board of education office.
The writer is a regular contributor to Miami Valley Today.