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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fort Thomas School Board September Meeting Round-up (September)

FTM file. 
By Amanda Joering Dibiaso

The Fort Thomas School Board held their monthly meeting Monday, September 14, with all board members present. Here’s your round-up:

Student Showcase: 
Moyer Elementary School students presented their “7 Habits of Happy Kids” project to the board. The project involved the students creating a calendar featuring the 7 habits:
1. Be proactive, 2. Begin with the end in mind, 3. Put first things first, 4. Think win-win, 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood, 6. Synergize and 7. Sharpen the saw.

The calendars are now displayed in all classrooms at Moyer to serve as a reminder to students to practice these habits.

Highlands High School Renovation updates:

Director of Operations Jerry Wissman updated the board on the progress of the renovations at Highlands High School. These updates included:
Work is wrapping up at the high school’s field house. Contractors are still working on getting the parking lot finished and assessing whether or not there is adequate drainage at the building.

The new locker rooms have been open since August and are being utilized by students.
Progress is being made on the high school expansion.

The high school field turf project is nearly complete, with just a couple small items to finish.

The board unanimously approved $388,496 in funding for the high school’s Walk of Fame entrance to Highlands Field. Superintendent Gene Kirchner said this additional funding will be added to the $500,000 donation the district received from the Fort Thomas Education Foundation for the project, allowing contractors to extend the walk out to the front of the gym.

Board Chair Karen Allen said the foundation did a great job raising those funds and “it seems right that we should keep it going,” especially with the inaugural Highlands Hall of Fame members being inducted next month.

Moyer Elementary School Renovation update:
Wissman also presented an update on the renovation of Moyer Elementary School, informing the board that the project is out to bid and three general contractors have picked up the plans. The board discussed how this is a smaller number than they’ve seen with projects in the past, including the Highlands and Woodfill Elementary renovations.

Kirchner said that is likely because this project is more complicated. “The scope and logistics of this particular job eliminated some of the smaller fish in that pond,” he said.

The board discussed how the small size of the property and it’s close proximity to neighbors, as well as the fact that the plan is all in one package instead of in phases like past projects, will make it more of a challenge, but Kirchner said they hope to award the contract on Oct. 1 for the project, which is expected to take approximately 30 months.

Establishment of additional position for computer technician:
The board unanimously approved creating a new position in the district for a full-time computer technician. Kirchner said the position is needed to address the district’s efforts towards digital conversion, which have recently led to the addition of 1,800 new devices at Highlands High School alone. “I really feel like we need more help at the ground level,” Kirchner said.

Approval of the working budget for 2015-2016: 
The board unanimously approved the working budget for 2015-2016, which included a beginning fund balance of $3.5 million - $400,000 more than had been estimated in May’s tentative budget. Kirchner said those additional funds are being put into the district’s emergency equipment fund and the high school gymnasium project.

Presentation of the Athletic Department Budget Report: 
Athletic Director Matt Haskamp presented the 2014-2015 athletic budget report and outlined his plans for managing the athletic program in the current year.

Haskamp said the department brought in $279,996 last year and spent about $228,578, leaving a balance of nearly $87,925, which includes the $36,000 they started the year with.

Haskamp said he is holding pre and post season meetings with coaches to discuss the teams’ needs in an effort to “put our kids in the best position they can be to compete.”

Presentation of class of 2015 ACT Report:
Assistant Superintendent Ginger Webb presented the class of 2015 ACT summary, which compared the district’s average scores and the state’s average scores since 2009:

2009 22.8                 19.4
2010 23.3                 19.4
2011 24.1                 19.6
2012 23.4                 19.8
2013 24.3                 19.6
2014 24.2                 19.9
2015 24                 20

Webb said even though the district’s score went down slightly from last year, it was not a significant amount. “The trend is definitely going in the right direction,” Webb said. “24 is very good and we’re very proud of that score.”

The summary also included information about the percent of students that met the ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks, which are the minimum ACT test scores required for students to likely succeed in college English, math, reading and science courses:
                English Math Reading Science All 4
District           84% 60%          65% 60%        47%
State           60% 32%          39% 32%        21%

District Accreditation: 
Webb advised the board that the AdvancED accreditation team will be in the district Oct. 18-21.

During accreditation the district will be evaluated to determine if certain standards are being met. Webb said while she knows the district is doing a good job, it can be helpful to have people from the outside come in and point out areas where improvements can be made.

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