The Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center Governing Board discussed the impact a lack of home technology can have on education at its July 23 meeting.
Sandy Friess, Ohio School Boards Association Student Achievement liaison, said a lack of technology at home affects learning gaps. According to an analysis of census data by The Associated Press, approximately 17% of students in the U.S. lack access to home computers and 18% do not have broadband Internet at home. This equates to nearly three million students across the country.
Friess said data shows students with home access to the Internet are more likely to have higher scores in math, science, and reading. She said ideas to remedy a lack of home access include installing wireless Internet on buses, loaning out hot spots, and compiling lists of Wi-Fi-enabled restaurants and other businesses where children are welcome to linger and do schoolwork.
Students without Internet at home are more likely to be students of color, from low-income families or in households with lower parental education levels.
CFO/Treasurer Homer Hendricks told the board that Ohio’s new biennial budget offers flat funding for educational service centers (ESC) and some increases for districts. The Ohio Department of Education has approved most of the federal grants for the 2019-20 school year, but NwOESC is awaiting approval of new 21st Century grants for the coming school year, along with state grants for a parent mentor and a school psychology intern.
Hendricks said the high-performing ESC application is due at the end of August. When approved, it will provides $26 per student funding, compared to $24. The process requires ESCs show a net 5% savings across five service areas as compared to what it would cost districts to provide on their own or through a private provider.
Jill Gilliland, director of special education, said NwOESC staff members will participate in the Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation next year. The ODE program provides coaching based on individualized goal setting for the organization’s programs.
The special education department continues to work toward filling positions for the 2019-20 school year, Gilliland said. She said teachers at Edon School collaborated through a musical partnership with the Edon Choir, its vocal music director, and Lindsay Eckley, NwOESC intervention specialist. Students planned and implemented a specially designed music curriculum with Eckley’s elementary students.
Chad Rex, director of technology, said the transition to the new Local Professional Development Committee licensing software is complete and various hardware updates and improvements are underway.
NwOESC Superintendent Kerri Gearhart said the organization is advertising anticipated board vacancies in District 3 – Fulton County, and District 9 – Williams County. Gearhart said there may still be time for interested candidates to file with the Board of Elections for the November general election.
The board entered into executive session to discuss charges or complaints against a public employee, official, licensee or student. No action was taken.
The next NwOESC board meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 27, 6:30 p.m. at 205 Nolan Pkwy., in Archbold.