The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Nov. 15, 2019

VWCS bd. hears about gifted education

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education heard a presentation on gifted education, listened to information on student testing and district finances and also approved a number of supplemental contracts during its February meeting on Wednesday.

Brett Dorsten, school psychologist at Van Wert Elementary School, talks about the district's gifted education programs. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)
Brett Dorsten, school psychologist at Van Wert Elementary School, talks about the district’s gifted education programs. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Brett Dorsten, school psychologist for Van Wert Elementary School, gave a presentation on the district’s gifted program, an area of concern because gifted students’ test scores have negatively affected the district’s value-added score on the State Report Card.

While the district has a number of programs, including intervention, available for gifted students, Treasurer Mike Ruen said the amount of money provided to fund gifted programs pales considerably in comparison to the dollars available for special education.

Ruen said district gifted programs receive less than $100,000, while the district spends approximately $3 million on special education programs.

The disparity of funding between the two programs, local school officials noted, is part of the reason gifted students don’t show as much progress as students in other educational groupings.

In fact, state law only requires that school districts identify gifted students (top 20 percent of students, academically), but doesn’t require schools to provide programs targeted specifically to gifted students.

“I’m not saying it’s wrong, but that’s reality,” Superintendent Ken Amstutz told the board.

The superintendent also talked about recent testimony he gave in front of the Ohio Senate’s Education Subcommittee on testing currently mandated by the state.

Amstutz said he and other superintendents testified that more emphasis should be placed on student achievement, rather than testing, noting that students learn in different ways and testing results don’t always mirror a student’s academic achievements.

“We need to focus on teaching and learning, not testing,” he told board members

The superintendent also testified that he felt the third grade reading guarantee be dropped, calling it a “high stakes test” that could lead to more students dropping out of school and fewer students attending college.

During his report to the board, Amstutz talked about a visit elementary teachers made to an elementary school in Waterloo, Indiana, that has a project-based learning curriculum, noting that teachers were excited about the teaching concepts they saw at the school.

The superintendent said he would also like to take board members to see what students in the Waterloo school are learning, saying that PBL is not “hands-on” learning, but “minds-on” learning.

Amstutz also talked about pending state legislation that could prohibit alternative schools such as LifeLinks Community School from sharing resources with public schools. The superintendent noted that, if the legislation would pass, it would significantly increase the cost of educating students at alternative schools. Currently, it costs approximately $11,000 a year per student at LifeLinks, which Amstutz said was higher than in the public schools, but substantially lower than sending students to the Van Wert Learning Center, a similar facility operated by the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center.

Ruen had some good financial news for board members, noting that, if Governor John Kasich’s biennial budget is adopted as is, Van Wert City Schools should receive substantially more funding per year. The treasurer noted, though, that state budget talks are still in the preliminary stage.

The board also approved having Amstutz and Ruen sign a warrant deed transferring the former Franklin Elementary School property to the Van Wert County Foundation for $1. The foundation and Scott Niswonger have pledged to provide funding to turn the property into a new city park.

In personnel action, the board accepted the resignation of high school math teacher Erica Lofthouse, effective the end of the 2014-2015 school year, and the resignation of Ashley Breese as junior varsity softball coach.

Supplemental contracts for the 2014-2015 school year approved Wednesday include the following: Melissa Bloomfield, high school Chamber Choir director; Chris Covey, varsity baseball assistant coach; Jim Werts, junior varsity baseball coach; Karlin Dunlap, freshman baseball coach; Leah Taylor, junior varsity softball coach.

Supplemental contracts for the 2015-2016 school year are as follows: Shad Foster, athletic trainer; Brendon Moody, varsity cross country head coach; Kim Laudick, varsity cross country assistant coach; Keith Recker, head football coach; Jason Cross, Craig Syphrit, Ryan Parrish, Drew Golden and Adam Tussing, football assistant coaches; Jordan Daniels, freshman football coach; Matt Hernandez, boys’ head soccer coach; Anson Moody, boys assistant soccer coach; Rich Nouza, girls’ head soccer coach; Mitch Neal, girls’ assistant soccer coach; Chuck Rollins, varsity girls’ tennis coach; Matt Krites, varsity head volleyball coach; Diane Kiehl, assistant volleyball coach; Kristi Bell, VWHS football cheerleading coach; Ben Laudick, boys’ middle school cross country coach; Kylee Moody, middle school girls’ cross country coach; Charlie Witten, Jeff Kallas, Jay Royer and Seth Baer, middle school football coaches; Tami Suzuki, eighth grade girls’ volleyball coach; Kate Finlayson, middle school fall cheerleading coach; Ben Collins, middle school athletic director; Darla Dunlap, middle school winter site manager (33 percent).

Judy Krites was also approved as a volunteer volleyball coach.

In other action, the board:

  • Accepted the following donations: Van Wert Elementary School Wellness Program — $1,750 from the VOYA Community Fund Inc.; $175 from Action for Healthy Kids Inc.; $45 from the Van Wert Rotary Club; VWCS Educators Fund — $125 from the Van Wert County Foundation; $125 from Van Wert Federal Savings Bank; $125 from Edward and Ravie Buhl; VWHS Robotics Club – $1,000 from Van Rue Properties LLC; $2,000 from Ohio Northern University; Senior Class Salvation Army project — $75 from Trinity United Methodist Church; Middle School Principal Fund — $2,000 from Paulding Putnam Electric Trust Inc.; VWMS Cougar Council — $100 from St. Paul’s Reformed Church in America Women’s Fellowship; Leslie Athletic Trust Fund — $123.24 from the Leslie Endowment.
  • Approved Jules Krizan as a new LifeLinks Community School board member.
  • Approved a salary schedule for a group of district employees and an administrative salary schedule for the next three years.

The next meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, in the commons area of Van Wert Elementary School.

POSTED: 02/19/15 at 8:50 am. FILED UNDER: News