(Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
(Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)

BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - The Vantage Career Center Board met Thursday night to go over the district's first-ever report card and look at the just-started school year.

Superintendent Staci Kaufman briefly reviewed the Vantage report card with the board members. It is the first year the Ohio Department of Education has issued report cards to any joint vocational school district. Only three letter grades were given. Two A's were given for Vantage's four-year and five-year graduation rates, and a C for post-program outcomes.

"It shows that 92.8 percent of our students were placed in careers, military, or college, however six months after graduation we could only confirm 78.6 percent," Kaufman explained.

Kaufman went on to explain that the district has had a hard time getting some graduates who had been placed to confirm their whereabouts six to nine months afterward. That brought the outcomes grade down from a B to a C. She noted that if the placement percentage would have been 93.0 percent rather than 92.8, the outcome grade would have been an A that was brought down to a B by the lack of check-ins half a year later.

"We're already working on how to improve that, and I think contacting students sooner out than waiting until six to nine months after the graduate to contact them will certainly help us," stated Kaufman.

The report card also showed that Vantage is doing a superior job in using district funds for classroom purposes. Of 25 similar-sized career-technical schools, Vantage ranked number two for using district funds to teach.

Kaufman pointed out, "We're doing extremely well dedicating our finances toward the classroom. We are spending the majority of our money for instructional purposes in the classroom. We like how that came out, and we don't see that reversing anytime soon."

Adult Education Director Pete Pritchard reported that he is in the midst of completing the accreditation process while classes are set to begin next week in the medical assistant program, and the police academy. Oct 16 is the projected starting date for classes from Northwest State Community College in the industrial maintenance, precision machining, and wind turbine programs at the Vantage facility. The school is also working toward setting up an internship program which will allow selected students to work while earning education credits.

"It's one of the things that the state has been pushing for a long period of time, and we think we have found a way of doing this that will be cost-effective for the employer and will give people skills that will put them to work while getting them 29 semester hours and putting them on a career path," shared Prichard.

High school classes have already begun for the school year at Vantage, and Director Ben Winans reported that the beginning of the year has been successful.

"We've had a great start to the school year," he said. "Staff and students have returned and things are progressive very well."

In other items, Kaufman updated the members on member eligibility and the possibility of moving to three-year terms on the board in the future. She also noted that the company that is to do upkeep of the solar array area has arranged for lawn maintenance, but as yet, the work has not started. She stated that she will be keeping a check on the work. A public website to allow anyone to monitor energy savings for the district with the array is in the testing mode. That site may be public as soon as next month.

A number of supplemental contracts for instructors and other staff members were also approved by the board on Thursday.