Retention, reading among hot topics at SCS forum

Revamped third-grade reading requirements and improving student retention dominated the audience-fueled portion of a Sandusky Schools forum Monday night.
Alissa Widman Neese
Sep 24, 2013
The hour-long gathering at Hancock Elementary was the first of eight planned meetings — one at each school building and a final gathering at a local coffee shop — aiming to inform parents about district initiatives.

Sandusky Schools superintendent Eugene Sanders spoke for about 45 minutes, then offered parents about 15 minutes to ask questions and offer comments. Of the more than 100 people who attended, five offered comments.

Among the topics discussed:
• The district’s academic transformation plan.

• The third-grade reading guarantee, a state law requiring all third-graders to pass the state reading test before entering fourth grade.

• Recruitment and retention.

• Possible building projects in 2014 with the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

• A tax levy up for its five-year renewal in 2014.

Jennifer Chapman, an involved parent who leads the Parent Congress at Hancock Elementary, said Monday’s well-attended event kicked off the district’s meeting series perfectly.

“This room was filled tonight because so many parents want to know what’s going on in their schools, and they should,” Chapman said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout.”

Among the questions people asked:

Q: What are your plans to try to bring students back to Sandusky Schools?

A: Sandusky Schools is focusing on improving its student achievement, employee customer service practices and educational options to become a more competitive district, Sanders said. Examples include the district creating an academic transformation plan and the Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies, a full-time gifted school.

In offering opportunities for dialogue, such as Monday’s forum, district officials hope to be more accessible and receive suggestions on how to improve further, he said.

“Enrollment is up this year for the first time in 13 years, which means we’re doing something right,” Sanders said. “But we need your opinions on how we can do things even better. We’re committed to being focused, meeting your expectations and exceeding them.”

Q: How many of our students are prepared to pass the third-grade reading test?

A: About three-fourths of the district’s third-graders will likely pass the third-grade reading test mandated by a new state law, while one-fourth of them will need additional instruction and extra help to do so, Sanders said.

“Kids come to school with several different backgrounds,” he said. “Sometimes that includes a lot of reading experience at home and sometimes it doesn’t. For those students who are behind, we need to first help them catch up.”

Q: Do you have a specific academic transformation plan for students with disabilities?

A: Sandusky Schools officials plan to spend a significant amount of time on improving special education during its transformation plan, which is “very important,” said David Danhoff, the district’s chief of staff and transformation officer.

 
Upcoming Sandusky Schools community forums

• Sept. 24 — Mills Elementary School, 1918 Mills St.

• Sept. 26 — Ontario Elementary School, 924 Ontario St.

• Sept. 30 — Venice Elementary School, 4501 Venice Heights Blvd.

• Oct. 1 — Sandusky Middle School, 2130 Hayes Ave.

• Oct. 2 — Sandusky High School, 2130 Hayes Ave.

• Oct. 8 — Osborne Elementary School, 920 W. Osborne St.

• Oct. 12 — Mr. Smith’s Coffee House, 140 Columbus Ave.

All forums are 6-7 p.m. except Mr. Smith’s Coffee House, which is 10-11 a.m. Discussion is geared toward specific school communities, but anyone can attend.

Comments

donutshopguy

The focus should be on education not buildings.

Most of these kids would excel if their home environment was different. Maybe we are teaching the wrong members of the household. At this point we feed them, clothe them, house them and educate them but many still don't have a chance in life. What are we missing?

Stop It

People like you to go from house to house and make sure the standards are kept.

donutshopguy

Standards kept?

Feed your kids, clothe your kids and educate your kids.

Pretty tough standards for an ever growing generational entitlement crowd.

deertracker

Instead of sending stale donuts to some third world country to feed hungry kids, why not help educate the ones right here!?

donutshopguy

Played that game already. Sorry but I gave up out of frustration.

I now spend my time helping those who understand the value of education. I help them do more than settle for a high school degree.

Contango

Way past time for society to admit that nationalized education based on a 2000 yr. old Socratic model is an expensive failure and now largely only benefits and ingratiates the education industrial complex.

Joel Klein:

"We have a 19th-century classroom model in the 21st century."

http://reason.com/archives/2011/...

Unabasho

Wingnut solution
to outdated public schools -
eliminate them

Contango

Re: "outdated public schools -
eliminate them,"

In the socialist mind: Just throw more money at an outdated, inefficient bureaucratic system eh?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Nationalized or not, the way education is presented isn't as good as it can be in my opinion. These meetings I hope will be utilized to look at what options are out there and consider changing the system by which kids are taught. The below suggestions may be preaching to the choir for you, Contango, but if others are reading this I hope it can inspire options to help ignite discussions and plans to bring the equalizing force of education to bear for all.

As was mentioned above home life plays a large role in how a kid grows up and performs in life. In Japan (last I knew) teachers made at least a yearly visit to each student's household to be able to privately discuss concerns, setbacks, or answer questions parents may have but don't want to ask publicly. It also can overcome certain mobility issues some households have. Plus, in an extreme case where roaches and feces are everywhere (or other horrendous living conditions) that teacher could facilitate action between the family and other social services whose direct job it is to help those who need it.

Additionally, I can attest to the power of mentoring that DSG talks about above. I know and can preach the benefits of such action as recipient and practitioner. But, it's something that can't really be legislated. It has to be a connection formed between the mentor and student (or no bigger than a small group of students). Fortunately there are many groups that can be partners in this with/through the schools such as Junior Achievement, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, and the like.

Finally, taking the word of someone who has been there and wants to not just complain about the process but reform it can shed some good light on things. A tutor who was in the shop turned me on to this gentleman after a lengthy discussion on how we can better educate our kids.

http://www.johntaylorgatto.com

From his biography:

"...He climaxed his teaching career as New York State Teacher of the Year after being named New York City Teacher of the Year on three occasions. He quit teaching on the OP ED page of the Wall Street Journal in 1991 while still New York State Teacher of the Year, claiming that he was no longer willing to hurt children. Later that year he was the subject of a show at Carnegie Hall called "An Evening With John Taylor Gatto," which launched a career of public speaking in the area of school reform, which has taken Gatto over a million and a half miles in all fifty states and seven foreign countries..."