Residents question Common Core
Fort Recovery School Board
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 8:39 AM
FORT RECOVERY — Common Core.
Adrian Grube (wearing hat) speaks Tuesday to Fort Recovery School Board regarding his concerns about Common Core State Standards. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
After residents, teachers and board members spent more than an hour Tuesday talking about Common Core State Standards, Fort Recovery School Board unanimously approved a resolution “to reaffirm the board’s authority to prescribe district curriculum.” It reads as follows.
The board hereby reaffirms its authority to prescribe, adopt and control the district’s curriculum independently of any state adopted standards. It is further the Board’s intent that district curriculum shall reflect local community values and beliefs consistent with state and federal laws.
The Board of Education encourages district administration, employees and community members to engage key stakeholders at the local and state levels to support development of model curriculum standards which enable school districts to maintain local control over curricular offerings and assessments.
It is found and determined that all formal action of this Board of Education concerning or related to the adoption of this resolution was adopted in an open meeting of this Board, and all deliberations of this Board that resulted in such formal action were adopted in meetings open to the public, in compliance with all applicable requirements of the Ohio Revised Code.
Those two words dominated Fort Recovery’s school board meeting Tuesday.
Representatives of a group of more than 50 area residents in attendance spoke against the education standards during the public comment portion of the meeting. Five teachers then spoke positively about Common Core during staff comments, and board members also gave their thoughts as the discussion continued for more than an hour.
The board later approved a resolution (see sidebar) affirming its intent to maintain local control of school curriculum, but did not move to step away from Common Core.
“At this time the Fort Recovery Board of Education feels it is not in the best interest of Fort Recovery Local Schools to opt out of the Common Core Standards,” the board said in a statement released this morning. “The resolution reaffirming local control of curriculum was passed unanimously.”
Also Tuesday, members got an update on the high school renovation and student activity center projects, which are nearing completion.
Common Core State Standards prescribe what students in grades kindergarten through 12 should know in math and English at the completion of each school year. They were developed through the National Governors Association and have since been adopted by 44 states, including Ohio.
Indiana recently became the first state to drop Common Core after previously approving it and is in the process of developing its own state standards.
Parents and other members of the public raised a variety of concerns about the standards, including that they are not age appropriate. Several spoke about issues with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test that measures whether the standards are being met.
Other concerns included potential future changes to the standards and that those changes would not fall under local or state control, along with questions about data mining and issues with school funding if standards are not met.
The group presented the school board with a petition signed by more than 300 residents asking that the school district eliminate the use of Common Core standards.
“We’re addressing you, the board of education and the administration, with the hope that you will stand and support the people that put you in these positions,” said Linda Kahlig. “We’re your friends, your neighbors, parents … We’re the ones who genuinely care what happens …
“We don’t want the federal government dictating what will be taught in our schools.”
The teachers in attendance spoke in support of Common Core, saying they have seen positive results in the last few years.
A few said they initially had concerns about the standards, but have found that students have adjusted well and risen to the challenge. They also noted that in some cases Common Core results in fewer standards while allowing teachers to go into more depth.
“I see so many benefits and so many good things happening in my classroom with my kindergartners,” said teacher Susan Bertke, while noting that she does have concerns about PARCC. “I see such a difference now from when I taught first grade several years ago. … It amazes me what they can do, it really does.”
The teachers also said in most cases Common Core is not significantly different from the previous state standards.
Board members gave their thoughts on the standards in response to questions from the public, with several saying they share some concerns.
Amy Bihn, a board member who also teaches in Mississinawa Valley Schools, said she has been comfortable with the standards.
“As a teacher, I am teaching the Common Core standards. I have not felt uncomfortable as a teacher. As a mother, I have not felt uncomfortable with the material my children are coming home with,” she said. “I do also have concerns with testing, but … I, as a teacher and a mother, don’t have concerns with the standards.”
Also Tuesday, superintendent Shelly Vaughn updated the board on the school renovation project, saying a final inspection is scheduled for this week.
Following that inspection, the school will be able to start using the community room in the student activity center as well as the stairwell and hallway on the south side of the building. The multipurpose area of the activity center will not be opened until installation of the floor is complete.
In other business, board members Jose Faller, Ginny Fortkamp, Dave Hull, Aaron Guggenbiller and Bihn:
•Recognized the high school’s Future Business Leaders of America group that competed at the state level last month. Four members of the group qualified for the national competition, which will be held in Nashville, Tenn., in June.
“We were all very pleased, and we’re hoping to bring national recognition to Fort Recovery,” said FBLA member Isaac Keller.
•Approved overnight field trips for FBLA to the National Leadership Conference June 29 through July 3 in Nashville, Tenn., and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America to the organization’s National Leadership Conference July 5 through 11 in San Antonio; and accepted donations of $2,000 each to the middle and elementary school activity funds from Fort Recovery PTO and an anonymous donation of $500 to the athletics department for softball uniforms.
•Received a financial update from treasurer Lori Koch. Fort Recovery Local Schools have a general fund balance of $3.54 million as of March 31, which is up nearly $500,000 (15.33 percent) from the same time last year.
A work session for the five-year financial forecast was scheduled for 6 p.m. May 20. The board’s regular meeting will follow at 7 p.m.
•Approved hiring Tami Brunswick, Tami Post, Jill Dues, Abby Scheidt, Holly Franzer and Megan Burke as summer school teachers; Chelsea Rogers as a teacher for the 2014-15 school year; Janelle Braun, Chad Miller, Sara Moorman, Tammy Overton, Theresa Schroer and Zachary Sudhoff as non-teaching employees; coaches Brian Patch (basketball), Jeff Vaughn (assistant basketball), Toby Metzger (assistant football and assistant basketball), Bob Leverette (assistant basketball), Brent Niekamp (football and weight room supervisor), Dave Blockberger (assistant football and middle school boys basketball), Zachary Sudhoff (assistant football), Kirk Link (assistant football), Brad Evers (boys golf), Joe Bruns (girls golf), Amanda Sudhoff (cheerleading), Kevin Eyink (middle school football), Jordan Staugler (middle school assistant football); extra-curricular leaders Kurt Rammel (athletics director), Sam Piehl (instrumental music, color guard, show choir and band), Joseph Hawk (agri-business), Michael Gower (vocational agriculture), Amy Kaiser (high school guidance) and Miranda Muhlenkamp (middle school guidance); and advisers Julie Schlater (Spanish Club), Robyn Armstrong (Math-Science Club), Amanda Everman (yearbook), Mindy Heitkamp (newspaper), Marge Dilworth (Students Against Drunk Driving and Scholastic Bowl), Donna Rindler (Art Club), Janice Osterloh (National Honor Society), Amy Kaiser (high school student council), Kathy Schwieterman (freshman class and Sports Medicine Club), Kim Grube (junior class), Brent Niekamp (senior class), Crystal Fullenkamp (middle school science fair), Jessica Jutte (middle school student council), Marcia Weigel (middle school yearbook), Brian Patch (eighth grade), Carol Ranly (middle school book club), Maura Hanlon (elementary vocal music), Michelle Stammen (elementary student council), Tami Brunswick (third grade book club), Scheidt (fourth grade book club); and grade-level chairs Susan Bertke (kindergarten), Kari Eilerman (first grade), Julie Winner (second grade), Sandy Raffel (third grade), Brenda Kaup (fourth grade) and Laura Snyder (fifth grade). All coach, extracurricular, adviser and chair assignments are for the 2014-15 school year.