The Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center Governing Board discussed possible complications of remote learning at its regular meeting held Nov. 17.
Dr. Christine Smallman, Ohio School Boards Association Student Achievement liaison, addressed how school officials in some districts are considering how to apply rules and discipline while students are learning remotely, including dress codes and items visible in students’ homes. She said Loyola University urges caution and suggests teachers address disruptive behavior in a way that avoids exclusionary consequences.
Dr. Smallman said state education leaders and national testing experts agree that student assessments are important during the pandemic but acknowledged challenges and a need to make adjustments. She said key differences between assessments and accountability must be considered, and many educators are seeking professional development virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Options exist through state and regional organizations and the Public Broadcasting System.
NwOESC CFO and Treasurer Homer Hendricks discussed the annual audit in progress and compared costs from the move to OCBOA reporting from GAAP reporting. He commended Michelle Smith for her work on managing the FFCRA leave.
Hendricks reported that the financing paperwork for the Dynamix Energy Services project has been completed with Farmers and Merchants State Bank. He also said the mid-year program cost review process has started by meeting the superintendent, directors, and special education office staff.
Jill Gilliland, special education director, reported that 10 NwOESC classrooms have implemented remote learning plans for short time periods. Gilliland said a new decision-making document for the alternate assessment must be completed if an IEP team considers AASCD for a student.
She said ODE is now allowing three-year-olds to participate in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) grant. The NwOESC facilitates enrolling families in this grant program to offset preschool tuition. NwOESC preschool programs can participate in this grant program, which is awarded only to high-quality preschools.
The board viewed a video that highlights the NwOESC Work Transition Program located at Four County Career Center.
Josh Clark, director of curriculum, instruction, and professional development, reported that the Administrator’s Brunch and Learn session held Nov. 24 focused exclusively on special education needs in a remote environment. For this particular meeting, registration was opened to include area special education directors. New administrators were paired with veteran administrator mentors, and a series of topics specific to new administrators/new administrator needs was presented.
Director of Technology Chad Rex reported that Chromebooks have been purchased for the IEC students and are in the process of deployment.
In other business:
The board approved a “then and now” certificate for payment to Best Buy.
Board members accepted the resignations of paraprofessionals Annette Oram, effective Oct. 30, and Rachel Cole, effective Nov. 1.
Classified limited one-year contracts were granted to Lauren Beers, Angela Harrison, and Jordan Lesinski.
The board also:
• Approved the purchase of audit services of fiscal year 2019-20 from the Ohio Auditor of State.
• Set the annual tuition reimbursement budget for the 2021-22 year.
• Approved the revised dues for the Ohio Educational Service Center Association for a period through-June 30, 2021. The increase is pro-rated for the remainder of the year.
• Appointed Ron Crawford – Defiance County, Deborah Gerken – Williams County, and Christine Smallman – Fulton County, to the Four County Career Center Board of Education for three-year terms of office, to commence Jan. 1, 2021, and expire Dec. 31, 2023.
• Appointed William Green – Fulton County/Swanton, to the Penta Career Center Board of Education for a three-year term of office to commence Jan. 1, 2021, and expire Dec. 31, 2023.
In her report, Superintendent Kerri Weir said OESCA is working diligently to advocate for NwOESC funding in budget discussions taking place for the Fiscal Year 2022-23 state biennium budget. Weir said ESC supports state efforts to advance a funding formula that provides for a research-based, rational, and fair system of funding schools for client school districts (Fair School Funding Plan) and incorporates funding for ESC’s utilizing a methodology that is rational, transparent, comprehensive, and – most of all – fair in funding ESCs based on the actual cost of operating the organization and delivering any services mandated under Title XXXIII of the Ohio Revised Code.
Weir also reported that, for the first time ever, OSBA’s Capital Conference and Trade Show was conducted virtually Nov. 7-10. For those who registered, on-demand sessions can be accessed through Dec. 31.
She said the impact of COVID-19 related to staff and student positive cases and quarantines is prevalent. She said NwOESC continues to align to the processes and procedures of member districts.
NwOESC is planning to use CARES funding to secure desk phones for home use for essential office staff to connect to the NWOCA call manager and function in every way, like the phones currently in the office. Weir said this will increase the ability to respond to calls from staff, districts, and others in times of a shutdown or periods of remote work in a timely and direct manner.
Weir reported that the ODE has rolled out a new initiative to ESCs statewide to provide family and community partnership liaison services for the 2020-21 school year. This is in response to the increased needs of school districts and families due to COVID-19. Each ESC will receive funding through December 2021 to support school district personnel in their ESC region to build a network of community resources, partners, and support services for vulnerable youth and families.
Liaisons will receive virtual training from the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center at OSU to develop strategies to increase local-level communication, outreach and family engagement specifically for vulnerable youth and families.