2011-02-19 / Schools

Lakewood to review bus routes

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Lakewood School District parent Angela Dorans handed a petition to the Lakewood School Board during its Feb. 9 meeting.

Pparents of children who live near Jacksontown on Ohio 13 signed the petition to ask the board to break up a bus stop on Ohio 13 because they believe it takes too long to load 10 to 15 children onto a bus at once from the busy highway. “I feel this is a very unsafe situation,” said Dorans.

“Safety is paramount to us,” said Board President Judy White. “Busing has been an issue.” She said Superintendent Jay Gault will review the petition, discuss it with Transportation Supervisor Mike Whittington, and make a recommendation to board members. White said the district consolidated bus routes when it slashed $1 million from its budget last year, with many individual bus stops combined into larger stops to improve operating efficiency. “It might be that we’re creating a problem unintentionally,” she said.

Gault said Monday that the board asked him to review the rural routes in general and, in particular, look at the roads without sidewalks where students must walk a significant distance along the road to the stop.

“We cut five routes; things are going to change,” said Gault. He said the board and the district certainly didn’t want to change the routes, but budget constraints forced the issue. However, “No amount of money can be put on the safety of our kids,” he said, adding that he and Whittington will take a close look at some of the routes.

In other district news:

• Gault said Lakewood High School will have a “state of the art” computer lab next school year featuring Apple computers – the district uses Apples exclusively – that can also run PC programs so students can learn to use both systems. He said there was talk of converting the high school to PC to give students exposure to them, but in the end it made more sense to install computers to run both. The lab will also feature a smartboard. Gault estimates the lab will cost roughly $30,000.

• Director of Pupil Services Arnie Ettenhofer told the board he hopes to have a program called the Lakewood School Ohio Improvement Process in place for the 2011-2012 school year with the goal that 90 percent of all students will read at grade level by the third grade and each following year by the 2012-2013 school year.

For the 2009-2010 school year, 68 percent of Lakewood students were reading at grade level. Ettenhofer said the state report card Adequate Yearly Progress data showed that reading is an area of weakness at Lakewood. Unless it’s improved, Lakewood won’t meet AYP and could lose its excellent status. But, Ettenhofer said it’s not only about meeting AYP.

“AYP is a piece of the puzzle, but truly it is about doing what is right for children,” he said. “If we don’t provide specific interventions for these children that are behind, they will not catch up just by receiving everyday instruction in the core classroom.”

Ettenhofer said the OIP is a tiered model that supports the struggling learner. He said roughly 80 percent of the students in the program would be in Tier 1, which is specific, direct instruction in the core classroom everyday. About 15 percent of the OIP students will be in Tier 2, which is an additional half hour of instruction beyond the core classroom two to three times per week. Around 5 percent of students will be in Tier 3, which is intensified, direct, individual instruction for an additional hour each day.

Ettenhofer defines a “struggling learner” as a student who has difficulty keeping up with classmates of the same age in a similar learning environment and don’t qualify for special education services. “These students can easily fall between the cracks unless we provide them with the interventions they need,” he said. “They could be as much as two years or more behind their peers in reading ability.”

Ettenhofer said he arrived at the 90 percent goal because studies indicate that not all students have the cognitive abilities to be equally successful at all skills from the simplest to most complex.

“This is something out of our control,” he said. Five to 15 percent of the population may fit in this range. Recent studies have concluded, however, that 85 to 90 percent of even the poorest readers may be taught to read at grade level. “We chose to use this high figure of 90 percent as our goal target due to these studies,” Ettenhofer said.

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