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Lakewood gets great report card from state

HEBRON – Not much of the Feb. 13 school board meeting was devoted to discussion of the levy renewal Lakewood voters will be asked to pass March 4 … rather, there was talk of the district’s academic successes and a desire to maintain that positive progress through the continued support of the community.

Director of Pupil Services Arnie Ettenhofer outlined good academic news in a presentation to school board members. He pointed out that Lakewood High School and the Jackson building each received the highest possible rating of excellent on the most recent state report card, while the other three buildings ranked at the next highest level, effective.

In December, the district was notified by the Ohio Department of Education that it had earned the highest possible value, or “green” value, in the Value-Added Rating. This new tool measures Ohio’s districts on making a year’s worth of academic growth in reading in math for students in the third through eighth grade.

“In other words, compared with students statewide, our children made more than typical progress in Reading and Math in 2006-2007,” Ettenhofer said in his report.

He cited the following factors as directly related to Lakewood’s positive academic progress and students success: all day everyday kindergarten; low pupil-to-teacher ratios; teaming time for staff; alignment of elementaries; implementation of the middle school concept in grades 6-8; freshman experience and advanced placement classes at the high school; and having 100 percent of core academic classes taught by staff whom meet the state’s standard of “highly qualified.”

“These could be drastically affected by cuts in budgets,” Ettenhofer pointed out.

Lakewood voters will see a five-year emergency operating levy renewal on the March 4 ballot. First approved in 2003, the levy brings more than $2 million annually to Lakewood schools.

Ballot language will call the issue a “renewal plus increase,” but the “increase” language refers to the tangible personal property tax reimbursement from the state, not an increase to residents.

Lakewood Superintendent Jay Gault thanked levy campaigners and contributors for their hard work during last Wednesday’s meeting.

“Hopefully it pays off on March 4,” he said.

Both Ettenhofer and Treasurer Glenna Plaisted noted how rising fuel and utility costs are impacting the district.

Comparing transportation data from the months of December 2006 and December 2007, Ettenhofer showed that re-alignment is cutting back on how many miles logged by school buses – 32,000 miles in 12/06 compared to 26,000 in 12/07. Fuel prices, however, jumped from $2.43 a gallon to $3.20, meaning the district spent $2,100 more on fuel this past December than the year before, despite using nearly 1,000 fewer gallons.

Plaisted said the district can boast about $21,000 in overall energy savings from improvements made through House Bill 264 funds last year.

The savings include gas, electric and water. Plaisted anticipates an eight- to ten-percent increase in electric bills soon, though.

“Like fuel for the buses, we’re using less but the cost keeps going up,” she said.

In other business, the school board voted unanimously to dissolve the Lakewood Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). Board members Judy White and Trisha Good were both active in the CAC, with Good serving as the most recent past president.

Good explained that the CAC has fulfilledits original mission of fiveyears ago, that being a survey of the community. The group also evaluated a possible Community District Authority, but discussion was tabled due to levy issues. The CAC also published a newsletter that was well received in the district, Good said.

“There were no new initiatives at this time,” Good said, explaining the decision of the board to dissolve the committee now. White thanked members for “their years of service to the community.”

In other business, the board approved:

• Two new courses of study at the high school: Sports Nutrition and International & Regional Foods, both in the Family & Consumer Science program.

• The purchase of two vehicles that had been scheduled in the budget for replacement this year: a 2008 pickup with snow plow and an 8-passenger van.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 12 in the high school library.

Food service director Mary Jennie told The Beacon Wednesday that the district did not have at any time any of the beef products involved in recent nationwide massive recall.

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