Mantua – At their first meeting of 2017, the Board voted to elect Debbie Soltisz as the 2017 School Board President, with Todd Monroe as Board Vice President. In addition, the Board voted to change the regularly scheduled monthly meetings to take place in the CHS library on the second Tuesday of each month. As such, the February meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 14th at 7 pm.
At their first meeting of the year, as is their practice, the Board discussed the proposed calendar for the 2017 – 2018 academic year. The proposed schedule recommends a teacher start date of August 14th, 2017, with students returning to class on August 17th. The final day of classes for students is proposed for May 24th, 2018.
By comparison, the current 2016-2017 school year began for students on August 16th, 2016 and will end on May 25th, 2017. In the normal order of business, the Board allotted time for hearing of the public regarding the proposed school calendar. One parent, Kristen Cavanaugh, shared her thoughts with the Board regarding the mid-August start dates, as she did at last year’s Board meeting. Cavanaugh shared that farming families are those most affected by the early start dates, since the Portage County fair takes place during the early days of the first grading period. She noted that while Crestwood is the third largest school District represented at the Fair, it is the only District in the top three that doesn’t begin classes after the County Fair ends. She also noted that the early start date deters students and the community from supporting friends and family who attend the Fair. A vote to accept the proposed calendar will be included on the School Board’s February meeting agenda.
As a part of the schedule discussion, Superintendent David Toth explained that the State mandates the District provide a minimum of 1,001 hours of instruction to Middle and High School students each day. Crestwood provides six and a half hours per day at each facility, for a total of 1,157 hours at each facility. The minimum State requirement at the Elementary School level is 910 hours of instruction; Crestwood Primary and Intermediate provide 1,062 hours of instruction to students each year. An early start to the school year allows for more instruction time for students to prepare for State-mandated testing, which begins in early spring.
In other news, Superintendent Toth provided the Board with an update on the District’s progress with the Strategic Plan. One of the main priorities Toth was charged with was to improve District communication. To that end, he shared that the District, through it’s Blackboard Connect automated call and email system, sent 150 messages in over 22,500 calls. These messages related to School or District events, activities, or emergencies, including calamity days. In addition, the District has increased it social media presence, boasting 774 followers and 18,000 tweets from the Superintendent account @crestwoodsupt. He also noted that 88 teachers and District organizations use Twitter to keep students and the community updated on the latest developments; he noted that on Facebook, over 7,042 people have been reached. In addition, Toth shared that the District’s website is now ADA compliant, and that the development of the athletic website provides the latest scores, stats and photos from Crestwood sporting events. In addition, the District has been active in print, producing 10 Crestwood Comments issues this year, as well as providing a monthly column in the Sunday edition of the Record Courier newspaper.
Next, Toth shared that as a part of the District’s Master Plan to continue facility upgrades, the Board has approved the placement of a bond initiative on the May 2017 ballot. The Bond will fund the creation of a 7 – 12 facility at the site of Crestwood High School. The new facility will cost a voter roughly $14 per $100,000 home. In addition, Toth added that in 2023, voters will see 3.5 mils drop off, as the cost for building the Primary and Intermediate School is paid off.
Moving forward, Toth shared the developments the District has made in improving students’ career and college readiness prior to graduation. He noted that career and college pathways instruction begins in the sixth grade, and that pre-engineering and technology courses are offered in the Middle and High Schools. Classes in keyboarding are offered at the Intermediate level, with coding and other technology classes offered at the Middle and High School levels. In addition, every classroom is wireless, as are the common areas, providing access to technology throughout the facilities.
The next School Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 14th at 7 pm in the High School library. Residents are encouraged to attend.