Anthony Adams, Van Wert Board of Education Vice-President, reads agenda items during Wednesday organizational and regular meeting. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Anthony Adams, Van Wert Board of Education Vice-President, reads agenda items during Wednesday organizational and regular meeting. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – The Van Wert City Schools Board of Education met Wednesday for their first meeting of the new year. The meeting included an organizational meeting and budget hearing.

During the organizational meeting, Scott Mull, who was not in attendance, was voted Board President for the 2019 calendar year, while Anthony Adams was re-elected Board Vice-President.

Members established that Board meetings will take place the third Wednesday of each month at 5 p.m. in the First Federal Lecture Hall at the NPAC – a change from the usual Goedde Building meeting place.

Adams was named representative to the Athletic Council and representative to VWASIG, Debbie Compton was named representative to the Vantage Board of Education, Mull was named the OSBA Legislative Liaison/Delegate Capital Conference, Tom Losh was named alternate Delegate to the OSBA Annual Capital Conference, and Rachel Dickman was named representative to the Neola Policy Development Committee.

A list of items yearly organizational items were approved during the organizational meeting as well.

During the regular meeting, several teachers presented on high school building goals which include an overall goal of raising test scores 5 percent across all courses tested on.

Science teacher Jeremy Kitson presented on the areas that the science department wishes to improve on, specifically in biology. Recent test scores show students are scoring lower on topics of "evolution" and "heredity." The science department plans to tweak coursework to concentrate on learning more in those areas to improve test scores in those areas in upcoming tests.

Social Studies teacher Katie Adelblue presented on increasing end of year test scores by 5 percent in American History and World History courses. The department uses a program called "Study Island," which gives students access to end of course exam questions and ACT prep. The department plans to keep utilizing Study Island, which they have found beneficial, to improve test scores. Adelblue did note that students who have higher class grades through the semester typically score higher on end of the year tests.

"That's not really surprising," said Adelblue. "That's what we want to see, but we felt like this said a lot. We felt that this is showing our coursework is aligned with what is expected on our end of the year exam."

Band Director Bob Sloan also presented during the meeting. Sloan said that though he teaches in a non-tested area, he hopes elective courses like his can improve the culture in the school whether it be the staff culture, student culture, or home culture to create a more positive atmosphere.

"One of the things we started to do was to increase that communication positively to home, whether it's witting a letter, sending a text, or whether it's an email," said Sloan. "This is not always to a straight-A student. This is to the kid who struggles but has a success; this is to the kid that struggles but needs a success. This is to the parent that just needs to hear something positive about their kid because they may not hear it about their kid a lot."

Sloan said the feedback from doing this has been "remarkable," noting several instances where the letters made a very positive impact on a student's home-life.

Each teacher gave several examples of how programs across the school are working to constantly improve.

During her report, Superintendent Vicki Brunn thanked Board members for their service during School Board Appreciation Month, which is celebrated in January. Brunn read a few letters and cards from students who wrote letters of thanks to Board members.

In other business the Board made the following motions:

- Accept the resignation of Toni Bartley, High School Paraprofessional, effective Jan. 18, 2019.

- Approve Laura Rhoades as a Long-term Substitute Middle School Intervention Specialist, filling the position vacated by Ben Collins, Interim Athletic Director.

- Approve the 2019-2020 school calendar as presented. A public hearing was held at the regular board meeting on Dec. 19, 2018, and this calendar complies with minimum hour requirements in the Ohio Revised Code.

- Approve the amended Facility Rental Applications for the Early Childhood Center, Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and Goedde Building, as presented.

The Board also accepted the following donations:

- From the Van Wert County Foundation:

? Gaylord Leslie Endowment Fund - Leslie Music Trust Fund - 1⁄2 to Instrumental and 1⁄2 to Vocal ($13,950)

? Gaylord Leslie Golf Scholarship Fund ($2,850)

? Gaylord Leslie Trust Fund - Athletic Department/Golf ($1,150)

? Flickinger Bequest - High School Robotics Team ($2,000)

? Associated Charities - Elementary Wellness Program ($500)

- Mary E. Marxen Scholarship Fund - Music Curriculum ($13,052)

- Norman L. Marxen Scholarship Fund - Science Curriculum ($12,607)

- University of Northwestern Ohio - High School Robotics Team ($1,000)

- United Way of Van Wert County, Inc. - Family & Children First Council ($1,250)

- Convoy United Methodist Women - Elementary Principal Account (clothing needs) ($100)

- Brock Blackmore - Boys Bowling Athletic Account ($50)

The Board was informed that Andrew Bittner advanced from a Masters+15 to Masters+30 and that Britni Dunlap advanced from a Bachelors to a Masters.

With no further business, the Board went into executive session for the purpose of discussing the employment of public personnel and then adjourned.

The next meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, at 5 p.m. in the NPAC lecture hall.