OAKWOOD — Benchmark testing and improving state report card grades were the main topics of discussion at the Paulding Exempted Village Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening at Oakwood Elementary School. The board also was presented the five-year fiscal forecast and replacing boiler units at Paulding Elementary School.

Oakwood Elementary principal Jennifer Manz shared information about benchmark assessments the district will conduct in November and February, telling the board that the District Leadership Team (DLT) has been meeting to work on the assessments for English/language arts and math for students in grades K-8, science for students in grades 4-8, and high school students that have end-of-course exams.

“Benchmark assessments will be given to determine baseline achievement data and major progress toward academic standards,” said Manz. “So basically, these assessments will determine how much our students already know about the standards, what they have retained from the material already covered, and address any misconceptions about grade-level material they may have.

“The assessments are not intended for students to earn a grade, they’re intended to collect data that will be used to guide instruction and intervention,” continued Manz. “Benchmark assessments also expose students to state-like questions, so that they’re more prepared for the state assessments. Once we collect the data following the February benchmark assessments, we’ll be able to pinpoint where we need to improve before the state tests.”

Manz also shared that several teachers at Oakwood Elementary received $500 Cooper Farms Grants (that totaled $4,000) being used for iPads, computer software, alternative seating in their classrooms, and other aids for the students.

In his report, superintendent Ken Amstutz gave a DLT update, where he explained the staff is working on three goals to improve the state report card, with a focus on English/language arts and math (through benchmark assessments), as well as cultural goals. He shared the administrative staff viewed a PowerPoint presentation on the 7 Mindsets, a social-emotional curriculum, that teaches “soft skills” using positive reinforcement.

The DLT will be introduced to the PowerPoint today, with the hope that the district will roll out the 7 Mindsets for the 2020-21 school year.

“As we started looking at the development of our cultural goals, I felt as though we were going in four different directions (the four schools),” said Amstutz. “(Guidance counselor) Tricia Langhals went to a meeting about the 7 Mindsets, and she brought the information back and shared with us that the program can be used for students in grades K-12, and that it will focus on the social-emotional side of things.

“Our administrators really liked it, we hope our DLT will like it, and if so, we will talk with people at Ayersville that are already doing it, and work toward rolling this out for the next school year,” added Amstutz. “We know we need buy-in to do it, but from what our administrators saw, they felt it would really help pull all of us together as a district.”

Amstutz shared that 7 Mindsets are: We Are Connected, Attitude of Gratitude, Live to Give, The Time is Now, Passion First, 100 Percent Accountable and Everything is Possible.

When asked if the program was for staff or students by board president Mark Manz, Amstutz explained that the staff would undergo training for the program, then the staff would teach it to the students. “It’s all about changing our mindset to be positive in any situation,” said Amstutz.

Treasurer/CFO Kim Jones presented the five-year fiscal forecast sharing the district is looking at a positive cash balance through fiscal year 2023 (a change from the May forecast), but the district (not including levies that may be passed in the future), is looking at a negative cash balance in fiscal year 2024 of $918,086.

“Through staff attrition, insurance savings, lowered expenses and increased tax revenue, the forecast has improved, but Ken (Amstutz) and I are always working on ways to find cost savings, because every little bit adds up,” said Jones.

The board approved the forecast.

Jones also shared that the district received its state Student Wellness and Success Funds in the amount of $150,593 and asked the board to approve the 467 Fund for the money. The board approved the measure. She and Amstutz shared that the district plans on using the money to offset ESC costs for 2019-20.

The members also approved to accept the quote from Northwest Custom Mechanical of Defiance to replace two boilers at Paulding Elementary School. The total cost, including labor and other materials will be $122,313.

In other business, the board:

• approved amended permanent appropriations for fiscal year 2020.

• okayed the class of 2022 student activity budget.

• voted to send approximately 50 students and chaperones to Springfield, Ill., and Chicago by chartered bus, May 13-16, 2020, at a cost of approximately $515 per student, paid for by the student and fundraisers.

• approved a one-year limited contract for Jualina Dull, second shift middle school custodian, effective Oct. 16.

• okayed an extracurricular contract for 2019-20 for Mallory Clark as head softball coach.

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