At the regular meeting of the Bethel Board of Education on September 14, 2015, three parents expressed their concerns to the Bethel Board Of Education about the substantial increase in school fees for the 2015-2016 school year. Wendy Frank told the board that she was deeply concerned about some of the school fees and the rate of increase. She said, "There was a vast increase in fees this year. In addition, I was asked to purchase at USB thumb drive for a lot more than I would have paid for it at Target. I was also asked to pay $5 for computer use. I would have thought this would be part of the operating expense. I would like an explanation for the increase and reasoning for some of the fees."
Jacob King agreed. He said, "There was a 189% increase in fees for 8th graders, a 167% increase for 7th graders and a 122% increase for 6th graders. The board is levying these fees against the same people who voted for every tax levy that has been asked. I queried several other schools and their fees have increased only 15%. In addition, since Progress Book is the only way for parents to track their children's progress, I question charging parents to use it. I understand that some of the increase is due to the cost of math workbooks; however, I question whether students really want to keep these at the end of the year." He also brought to the board's attention that he believed that they did not comply with the Ohio Sunshine Laws because once the board left an executive session they did not report that no action was taken.
Joe Solch, Board of Education President, stated that the board always announced that no action would be taken before going into executive session.
In addition, Lori Sebastian spoke. She agreed that the increase in school fees was egregious. She went on to thank all the people who helped with the Bethel Athletic Booster's Golf Outing. The event raised almost $2000 for scholarships. She thanked the parents, grandparents, school staff and area businesses that made the event possible with their generous donations. Sebastian also reminded attendees that November elections are right around the corner. Sebastian and three write-in candidates, Jacob King, Todd Wright, and Gregory Bruckman will be campaigning for the two seats that will be available at the beginning of next year.
In the administrative reports, Jodi Petty, Elementary Principal, reported that she has finalized the plans for the Bethel Buddy System. The Elementary School Staff are teaming up with the Bethel Township Fire Department to buddy up with students. Fire Department Members will be available on ten dates throughout the school year from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to assist students in any way they can. In addition, the Fire Department members have made an additional 36 days available for teachers to schedule their assistance.
In addition, Petty announced that several teachers participated in a summer workshop called Fundamentals that taught a reading program for students with dyslexia. The teachers have received resource guides and are waiting on the materials to begin using the program with students who struggle with reading.
Petty also reminded the board that the elementary school teachers have ongoing programs throughout the school year to recognize and reward students including Student of the Month, Honor Roll, Principal's List, Most Improved Student, Math Facts and Birthday Recognition.
The Middle School Principal Alexis Dedrick reported on several programs implemented in the middle school to help students succeed. These include HIVE time during which a teacher or student can request intervention to help a student master a concept. Students can also use the time for private or group study.
In addition, the middle school staff offers After School Supervision for student athletics who participate in after school events. The students can stay after school from 2:35 p.m. dismissal time to 3:15 p.m. when most events start. The time is supervised during which they can study and prepare for the next school day.
The Middle School Teachers are restarting the Power of the Pen (POP) program for seventh and eighth graders. POP helps students find and develop their creative writing skills. Pop provides teachers with in-class instructional aides and many students go on to compete in district, regional, and state tournaments.
Craig Vasil, High School Principal, reported that Bethel's junior and senior classes will participate in the 2015 Career Day & Job Fair at Hobart Arena on September 15, 2015. Students from all over Miami County will have the opportunity to participate in career education in the morning, including interacting with area businesses. In the afternoon, the students can talk with over 30 employers about job opportunities. He also indicated that teachers and students are taking advantage of HIVE time to improve academic performance. He reported that his goals for the year include raising both ACT scores and improving the graduation rate. Bethel's overall graduation rate is at 91%. He hopes to increase that rate to 98-99% for students who attend all four years of high school at Bethel.
Mark Durst, Maintenance Supervisor reported that the maintenance staff had a busy and productive summer. His staff moved 32 classrooms and thanked the teachers for all the preparation they made to make the moves easier. He also noted that Shook and Jergens did an excellent job on constructing the new parking lots. His staff also installed air conditioners in all of the classrooms and noted that he had noticed a huge improvement in the use of the elementary school girl's bathroom with the addition of new stalls.
Dave Oleszczuk, Network Administrator, reported that the new Google calendars for the district, schools, and athletic department are up and running. He also negotiated a 1-year contract with SchoolViews to maintain the current website while the school finds a new provider and develops a new site. In addition, Oleszczuk reported that he had had problems with hard drives on a couple of the servers. He was able to recover the files, but because of the age of the servers, he is investigating whether it will be more cost effect to replace the existing servers or set up virtual servers at MDECA.
For the construction project, Joe Harkleroad, Owner’s Representative reported that Jergens has completed all the work they can do until the building is started. He said that a three-day window is needed when school is not in session to remove trees along the southern fence.
In addition, he informed the board that the construction package is out for bid with a deadline of September 23, 2015. He hopes to present the board with recommendations on October 12, 2015 so they can award the contracts at that time. He said, "We have had a really good response to the bids. Dozens of contractors have submitted bids for various parts of the project."
Superintendent Virginia Potter reported the bus routes are smoothing out and that the extra math and high school textbooks that had to be ordered because of the increase in enrollment have started to arrive. For the academic programs, she plans to work on an initiative to integrate the 21st Century Learning Initiative with Technology. She noted that to do this the teachers would need more training to use the new technologies and instruction on how to integrate them into their classrooms.
In addition, Potter received information on the 2015 ACT averages for the district. In 2011, the school average for the ACT was 23.3; however, in 2015, the average had fallen to 22. In addition, Bethel's average score was second lowest in the county. Both Potter and Vasil plan to work with the Math and Language Arts teachers to raise Bethel student scores.
She also announced that the school added another custodial staff member who will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition, exhaust fans were installed in the locker rooms of the weight room building, and she is looking into needed repairs to windows in some of the classrooms.
Furthermore, she announced that the asphalt parking lot will open at 5:00 p.m. on September 18, 2015. This parking will not be available during the regular day because of the construction.
Potter reported that enrollment for the 2015-2016 school year started at 1181; however, she expects to see an increase during February/March because of completed homes in the Charlesgate development.
The board approved the permanent appropriations for the 2015-2016 school year. The current report primarily reflects expenditures. The treasurer will not have complete revenue information until January when the state provides that information to the district.
In regular business, the board approved the employment of Certified and Classified Personnel including: Heidi Henning as a classified substitute, Carrie Yount as a substitute nurse, and a bump up on the pay scale from Masters to Masters +15 for Mary Roll.
They also approved the following coaching positions: Kim Osborne – Cheerleader Advisor Football 9th-12th Grade; Brett Brookhart- Boys Varsity Baseball Coach, Mark Clute- Girls High School Track Coach, and Aaron Burchett- Boys High School Track Coach.
In addition, they approved stipends for Rita Royer, Susan Pytel, and Joy Vocke for the Camp Kern Coordinator of $250, and a stipend for Chris Endres as the Washington DC Coordinator for $250.
The board approved the enrollment Kauana Soares Martins from Brazil, and Lina Kroth from Germany as Foreign Exchange Students for the 2015-2016.
They agreed to pay Troy Christian $8726 for transportation expenses for Bethel Students for 2015-2016 . Finally they appointed the following individuals as OTES evaluators for the 2015-2016 school year: Debra Frederick and Jennifer Schilling.
The next regular meeting of the Bethel Board of Education is scheduled for October 12, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium.