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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fort Thomas School Board Round-Up (January 2016)

Johnson Elementary School students Charlies Alerding, Martha Kelly Bone, William Brewer, Violet Hisey, Elliot Martin and Oliver Martin gave a presentation on the Coding Club after school program. FTM file. 

By Amanda Dibiaso

The Fort Thomas School Board held their monthly meeting Monday, January 11, with all members present. Here’s your round up:

Student Showcase:
Johnson Elementary School students Charlies Alerding, Martha Kelly Bone, William Brewer, Violet Hisey, Elliot Martin and Oliver Martin gave a presentation on the Coding Club after school program. The Coding Club, where students learn the basics of computer coding and programming, currently has 61 members, with other students on a waiting list.

As part of their presentation, the students worked one-on-one with board members, showing them how the coding program works.

School Board Recognition Month:
Dawn Hils and Judy Manning, co-presidents of the Fort Thomas Teachers’ Association, presented each board member with a gift in honor of School Board Recognition month, and thanked them for their dedication and service.

Manning said the board members make Fort Thomas a great place for students to learn and for teachers to work.

Superintendent Gene Kirchner also took a minute to thank the board for their hard work.
“I really believe that we have the best Board of Education in the state,” Kirchner said.

Organization of the Board:
As they do every January, the board discussed the organization of the board for the upcoming year, appointing Karen Allen as chairperson, Jeff Beach and vice chairperson, Gene Kirchner as secretary and Andrew Remlinger as treasurer.

The board also approved the 2016 schedule of meetings, with regular meetings being held at 6:30 p.m. the second Monday of each month except April, when the meeting will be held the third Monday of the month.

Keeping in suit with prior years, the board unanimously agreed to donate their monthly stipends to two scholarship funds: The Gail Federle Memorial Teacher Scholarship fund and a scholarship fund for students.
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Highlands High School project update:
Director of Operations Jerry Wissman updated the board on the Highlands High School renovation project. Wissman said with the exception of a few items that can’t be completed until the spring, work is complete on the field house.

Gene Kirchner said they are hoping to schedule a grand opening ceremony for the gymnasium in early February.

Around that time, Wissman said construction will begin on the plaza in front of the gymnasium. The driveway loop there will be closed for about 5-6 weeks during construction, but staff is looking in to creating a temporary, alternate loop to be used during that time.

Kirchner said that plaza work will hopefully be completed in time for graduation in May.

Board member Brad Fennell expressed his excitement to see the plaza complete.

“The wow factor kind of comes in here,” Fennell said, referring to the plaza renovation. “I’m excited to see what it looks like when it’s finished.”

Moyer Elementary School project update:
Wissman updated the board on the Moyer Elementary renovation, which he said is progressing well despite being delayed recently because of heavy rain.

He said crews are currently putting up the retaining wall along the back of the property and moving in and setting up mobile units to house classrooms while the renovation work is being completed.

Presentation of draft working budget:
Kirchner presented a draft of the 2016-2017 working budget to the board, comparing it to the 2015-2016 budget.

Kirchner said while it isn’t possible to predict some items in the budget, in particular the amount of funding the district will receive from the state, the draft provides an approximation.

A highlight of the draft is that the district still plans to have a 7% contingency fund (totaling $1.7 million) which is well above the required 2% contingency fund.

The working budget will be updated in May, then finalized in September. To view the draft, follow the link to the meeting minutes below.

Approval of Use of Alcohol, Drugs and Other Prohibited Substance and Suspension policies:

Assistant Superintendent Jon Stratton presented revisions to the Use of Alcohol, Drugs and Other Prohibited Substances Policy and the Suspension Policy to the board for approval.

The revisions to the Use of Alcohol, Drugs and Other Prohibited Substances Policy including additional information about the penalties for violating the policy, which consist of suspension or expulsion from and school and suspension or dismissal from athletic teams and/or other school-sponsored activities.

According to the revised policy, students can be suspended up to 10 days or expelled for violating the policy, and that the local police and/or juvenile service authorities will be brought in for every incident involving the policy. The student may also not be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities for 30 days.

The revisions to the Suspension Policy include adding a section that states that students who are suspended will not be allowed to make up school work, unless, as determined by the principal, they are permitted to complete it during Saturday detentions.

It also includes adding a section outlining suspension for the violation of the Use of Alcohol, Drugs and Other Prohibited Substances Policy.

The board unanimously approved both revised policies.

The policies can be reviewed by following the link to the meeting minutes below.

Approval of 2016-2017 tuition rates/calendar:
Stratton also presented the 2016-2017 tuition rates and calendar to the board for approval. The tuition rates will primarily remain the same, with the exception of kindergarten tuition students without an ADA contract, who will be required to pay an additional $300.
The tuition rates are as follows:

With ADA Contract
No ADA Contract
Kindergarten (1/2 day)
Grades 1-12
All Day Kindergarten
All Day Kindergarten (residents)

$230 monthly

The board approved keeping beginning and ending times for each school the same, and also approved a 2016-2017 calendar with the first day of school for staff on August 11 and students for August 17 and the last day of May 23.

Update on food service program:
Stratton presented a mid-year review of the food service program, showing that the district has a balance increase of $96,940 more than it had last year at the time.

Overview of Comprehensive District Improvement Plan:
Assistant Superintendent Ginger Webb gave the board an overview of the Comprehensive District Improvement Plan (CDIP), explaining the district’s five goals and strategies in place to attain them.
Webb said the CDIP, which must be completed each school year, is based on the district’s assessment scores.

The five goals include:
1.     Increase the averaged combined reading and math K-PREP scores for elementary students from 74.8% to 78.5% and for middle school students from 75.9% to 76.8% and increase the average combined reading and math End-of-Course scores by 10/1/2016.

2.     Reduce the number of novice students in reading and math so that the average combined novice rate for the district falls from 3% in 2015 to 1.5% by 10/1/2019.

3.     Increase proficiency for students in identified gap groups at all grade levels by 10/1/2016.
4.     Achieve college and career readiness by maintaining or increasing the current percentage (88%) of students identified as college and/or career ready by 10/1/2016.

5.     Maintain a graduation rate of at least 97.6% by 10/1/2016.

Webb said the district has some work to do, but overall they’re doing well.
The CDIP can be reviewed by following the link to the meeting minutes below.

Approval of Consent Agenda: The board unanimously approved the consent agenda. Consent agenda items can be found in the meeting’s minutes here:

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