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Lakewood earns another ‘excellent’ rating

HEBRON – Call it a hat-trick. Lakewood School District earned an excellent rating on the state report card for the third consecutive year, Director of Pupil Services Ernie Ettenhofer told Lakewood school board members Sept. 8.

He said Lakewood is one of only 81 Ohio school districts to achieve an excellent rating for the 2009-2010 school year; there are 611 Ohio school districts. Ettenhofer also said that Lakewood met the “value added” measure for a third year in a row. “Lakewood children made more than a year’s worth of typical growth, a plus rating,” he said. The “value added” state designation measures whether fourth and eighth grade students are making a year’s worth of expected growth or better in math and reading for at least two consecutive years.

While very pleased with the announcement, Superintendent Jay Gault said there’s still work to be done. “We still haven’t met all the indicators yet,” he said. “The next step is ‘excellent with distinction,’” which schools meeting all indicators receive. “We still have areas we need to improve.”

According to state report card results, Lakewood met 21 of 26 indicators, but also gained an extra point for meeting the “value added” measure. Lakewood did not meet indicators for fifth grade reading, math or science, eighth grade science, or Ohio Graduation Test Science. Lakewood had a 98.8 percent graduation rate last year.

In other school board news:

• A community forum is set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 30, at Lakewood High School to discuss the 9.9 mill levy on the November ballot. Gault said Tuesday that the forum will cover academic progress, the district’s financial status, and roughly $4 million in proposed cuts should the levy fail.

“We’re just now getting to the point of attaching dollar signs to this,” said Gault Tuesday. Cuts are still being evaluated and he wouldn’t comment ahead of the forum about which programs and services would or would not be axed should the November levy fail, other than to say there would be many. “It will be ready for the 30th,” said Gault. District officials will also answer public questions during the forum.

• Ettenhofer said consolidating bus routes and stops saved the district roughly $127,000, by cutting four drivers and five routes. He said the district transporta- tion department received about 500 calls regarding the changes. Ettenhofer said he, Gault, and Transportation Supervisor Mike Whittington visited 100 bus stops in question and changed 15 of them. “We’re not beyond changing,” said Ettenhofer. “If we feel that on second review it is not a safe stop or logical stop, a stop may be changed.”

• 8th grade science teacher Debby Warthen described the upcoming eighth grade trip to Washington D.C. to board members and why it’s important to students.

“What we have found in our experience is that students understand so much more of the history of our country when confronted with it firsthand,” said Warthen. “They develop a better understanding of the sacrifices of our military.” She said students often meet soldiers and sailors from previous wars, making history even more real. Students visit art museums, the natural history museum, the American History Museum, and several Smithsonian musuems.. They stand at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, visit Arlington National Cemetery, and this year they will tour the U.S. Capitol as well. Students also visit national monuments, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where they tour the museum, cyclorama, battlefields, and cemetery where Lincoln’s address is read and students discuss what it must have been like at that moment.

“For many of our students this is the first time, maybe the only time, they have the opportunity to travel outside of Licking County,” said Warthen. She said the trip broadens their interest in the world around them and the possibilities that are available to them as adults. There are assignments leading up to the trip, as well as work that must be completed during the trip fitting with the state standards for eighth grade.

“One other benefit we have discovered is that in continuing to be eligible to participate our students are developing stronger work habits and self control,” said Warthen.

Families, sponsors, and a benefactor pay for the cost of the trip. This year it’s $448 per person, and students will pay $350 unless they are on free or reduced lunches or have extreme family financial situations, in which case they will pay $250 or sometimes less. The trip is voluntary although Warthen said having every student attend is the goal. Those who choose not to go have school as usual that week.

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