Representative Craig Riedel discusses issues with the Van Wert City School Board of Education on Monday as Board President Scott Mull (left) and Board member Tom Losh (right) look on. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Representative Craig Riedel discusses issues with the Van Wert City School Board of Education on Monday as Board President Scott Mull (left) and Board member Tom Losh (right) look on. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – During a special meeting on Monday, the Van Wert City School Board of Education met with Representative Craig Riedel to discuss school needs and what is happening in the legislator.

The Board briefly discussed graduation requirements before diving into a discussion on the School Report Cards that come out yearly.

“A real frustration that I have with the State Report Card is that it doesn’t measure a lot of things that I think it should measure,” said Superintendent Vicki Brunn who noted that she’s been at districts that are at the top of the grade card and at districts that were struggling and didn't see much difference in what they were doing. “I hope we get to the point where we’re really measuring things that are talking about student achievement and student success.”

Brunn said she felt that it is important to prepare students for the workforce and not just for college. One aspect that many schools, including Van Wert, struggle with on the report card is the “Prepared for Success” measurement. On the last report card, Van Wert received a “D” in the area.

The Prepared for Success category, however, only measures the success of students who plan to go to college. Schools often suffer in the category because not all of their students go to college after high school. While schools have increased efforts to prepare students for a workforce option, those achievements are not measured in the Prepared for Success category.

“We actually have had folks from the State come and try to replicate what we’re doing here because we’re so cutting edge,” said Brunn who touted the success of the CEO program and the Business Advisory Council.

Brunn said it does not make sense that the school receives a low score on the Prepared for Success measurement while they are producing successful students who go into the workforce if they decide college is not an option. She noted that last summer, a business was looking to employee 100 people and that by working with the Business Advisory Council the positions were filled within a few weeks.

“Something needs to change,” said Brunn who was straight-forward with her words to Riedel. “It’s like you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth as a legislator when you’re saying that that’s important (meeting workforce needs), but when you look at the report card, it’s not important. What you’re measuring and what you're telling us that you want is not what we need.”

Riedel quietly listened to the Board’s frustrations on the State Report Card issue said he believes that eventually the grade cards will be done away with and a new system will be put into place.

“There are legislators that feel like we need to stick with [the grade card],” said Riedel who noted he is for a “dashboard” option that had few details, but that would likely be of a greater benefit to schools according to Riedel.

Riedel also noted that there is a push to look at legislation that changes how the State intervenes after a district gets an overall grade of an “F” three years in a row. Regionally, Lima City Schools is facing intervention from the State after receiving another “F” on their latest report card.

In addition, Riedel discussed various other items the General Assembly is concentrating on at the moment such as upcoming legislation regarding the transportation budget which includes a purposed 18-cent gas tax increase. Riedel said that he is awaiting more information before deciding officially how he plans to vote but that he is currently leaning toward a “no” vote.

The Board asked Riedel if the legislator is currently looking at school safety funding. Riedel said that there has not been such legislation recently talked about as of yet but that it’s possible for the future.

“In our last General Assembly we passed a bill that appropriated about $12 million for SRO (School Resource Officer) training, but that $12 million was strictly for training,” said Riedel. “It wasn’t there to hire; it was there to help.”

Riedel said the last Generally Assembly also passed a bill that allowed for a levy to be put on ballots in ESC districts that would allow money generated to be used for school security.

“Those are the only two bills that I know of that were passed in the last General Assembly,” said Riedel who noted that these issues are important but are costly. Riedel recommended the Board “keep an eye out” during the Governor’s budget to see if there is plans to address school safety concerns.

The Board and Riedel also discussed various other topics such as mental health, intervention, and opioids before concluding their discussion.