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Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

State changes ranking system

By Margie Wuebker
MARIA STEIN - Fewer schools will be earning excellent and excellent with distinction rankings on school district report cards this year due to the state changing its accountability system.
More than 350 schools out of 609 received the state's top two ratings - excellent or excellent with distinction - last year. Only about 2 percent are expected to get those ratings when the state rolls out its new system this year.
Marion Local Superintendent Mike Pohlman told board members during a meeting Monday that the state is recommending schools prepare their communities regarding an anticipated drop in ranking.
High school principal Tim Goodwin and elementary principal Karen Post recently participated in a webinar dealing with the changes. Schools will be assigned letter grades, A-F, rather than numerical ratings that classify a school as excellent with distinction, excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch and academic emergency.
Pohlman said preliminary reports based on 2011 data indicates Marion would receive a B under the new system. The district, like many other schools in the Grand Lake area, has earned excellent or excellent with distinction ratings the past eight years.
"We spent years preparing the community for the release of school district report cards and high ratings," Pohlman said. "Now we face an entirely new learning process."
State Superintendent Stan Heffner has said the new system is "far more rigorous." The state released its new system as part of a waiver to some federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.
The state report cards for this school year come out in August.
Board members also learned Start Ready, Graduate Ready forums are being held across the state to prepare educators for new state tests in social studies, language arts, mathematics and science to be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year.
In other action, the board:
• Accepted the resignation of Treva Fortkamp as junior high athletic director at the end of the current school year and hired Joe Karafit as a substitute teacher on an as-needed basis at the rate of $90 per day. Following an executive session, the board extended the special education contract of teacher Hope Rethman from half time to three-quarter time for the current school year.
• Approved the open enrollment policy with no changes. Forty-one students come to Marion Local as a result of the policy while eight local students go elsewhere.
• Entered into a three-year lease agreement with David Pohlman to farm 13.67 acres of land the school district owns. The agreement runs from April 1 of this year through March 31, 2015.
• Received an update on baseball diamond work completed in recent weeks. The athletic boosters upgraded backstops and dugouts with the diamond being built up to help with water issues.
• Learned 82 children participated in screening for the incoming kindergarten class. Any family who missed sending a child to the screening should call the elementary school office at 419-925-4595 as soon as possible. Post expects 77 to 78 incoming kindergarten students,
• Reviewed the status of various levies including two emergency levies - one for 11.6 mills that collects $805,662 per year and the other for 2.2 mills that yields $150,000 annually. Both expire at the end of the year but collections continue through 2013. Officials may go to voters at next year's primary election.
• Authorized the treasurer to seek bids for the purchase of a school bus through the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council. The new vehicle will replace a 1997 bus in the current fleet.
• Agreed to allow Students Against Destructive Decisions and the National Honor Society to sell McDonald's peeler cards.
• Approved the following sports volunteers: Monte Imwalle, baseball; Jerry Moeller, Sarah Moeller and Dana Hartings, softball; and Sam Thobe, Austin Berning and Marianne Bruns, track.
• Reminded board members of the Franklin B. Walter banquet to be held April 11 at St. Henry schools. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.
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