SOLON– Lianne Westcot, Dick Schwab and Matt Townsley left smiling after the latest Solon school board meeting on July 8. The school board unanimously approved the group’s report on Standards Based Grading (SBG).
The trio had spent hours in meetings over the last weeks synthesizing recent public comments (including the June 3 public hearing), as well as information from throughout the school year. Board member Dan Coons shared his appreciation during the short, 35-minute meeting, held at the central office conference room, 301 S. Iowa St.
“I’d like to thank Dick and Lianne for their work on this, Matt also,” Coons said. “I think you guys did a good job of capturing the issues.”
Coons cited a lot of work that needs to be done, but appeared hopeful moving toward a formal direction on SBG at a meeting on Aug. 12.
Commenting after the meeting, Townsley cited the importance of a positive and balanced relationship between the board and administration. He said the rapport over SBG dates back to the 2011-2012 school year.
“While our implementation of SBG as a district has not been perfect, my perspective is that the board has done a very good job asking questions to the administration and directing us to become more consistent in several areas during the past school year,” Townsley said. “I anticipate this type of board/administration relationship will continue in the future.”
Over the next weeks, Townsley, high school principal Nathan Wear, and middle school principal Mike Herdliska plan to organize a meeting of teachers to discuss the major themes in the report. The idea is to gather teacher representation before the deciding Aug. 12 board meeting.
“Our goal is that several teachers and administrators will share a report of this meeting at an August board of education meeting,” Townsley said.
Schwab, a member of the school board, said he believes the SBG report presents a “pretty good plan,” that shows clearly the questions that need to be answered, such as how to communicate to the public, how to weigh the grading scale, and how to implement homework.
Westcot said she hopes the report will help set the stage, and help move toward an overall goal.
“It was pretty much a collective work, I believe,” Westcot said. “I think having an area of focus means that the ongoing work, and continuing work will be at least focused in a certain direction.”
Other action items for the board last week included the increase of substitute teaching pay from $100 to $110 per day, a high school gym air conditioning bid through PipePro ($21,857), a playground surface bid through National Playground ($17,470), and a bread bid through Hy-Vee North Dodge.
Superintendent Sam Miller headed the facilities report and discussed the desire to be in a financial position to be able to build a new school within five years, citing new developments in the Solon area that could bring an influx of students into the district.
“We haven’t seen that explosion of kids in my three years,” Miller said. “We keep thinking it’s going to happen, but it hasn’t happened. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.”
With maxed-out buildings, Miller said the district may need to open the discussion about additions to current facilities. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 19.