BL staff seeks to improve student performance

CALCUTTA — Beaver Local’s high school principal and his staff are working on a plan to improve student performance on the state record card.

“We know we have aggressive goals, and the staffs’ on board,” Principal James Riccardo told the school board at this week’s meeting.

The Beaver Local school district received an overall grade of C on the 2017-18 school year state report card and scored a 76.1 percent on the performance index, which is based on how students do on state exams and considered the best measure of how a district performs academically.

The other important academic yardstick is the “indicators met” category, which measures how many students achieved academic proficiency (80 percent or more) based on the series of 23 state exams. Indicators met also evaluates districts on student academic improvement, chronic absenteeism and the performance of students in the Gifted Program.

Beaver Local met 10 of the 24 indicators. The high school met only five of its 10 indicators, which Riccardo said “is not good enough.” The goal is for the high school to meet eight indicators within the next several years, and the plan being developed will focus on addressing the following four indicators:

–Chronic absenteeism: Officials said this figure is somewhat skewed because the state report card does take into account those students with perfect attendance, and Beaver Local had 40 such high school students last year. Riccardo said they are increasing efforts to work with chronically absent students to help them make up missed hours and assignments.

–Graduation Rate: 90.6 percent of Beaver Local high school students graduated in four years.

–Gap Closing: This measure how the district is doing in meeting performance expectations of all students, especially those with special needs or those for whom English is their second language.

–Prepared for Success: This looks at how well prepared students are to pursue any career, whether it be college or in the vocational field.

Riccardo said for better or worse, the state report cards are what the public looks at when judging a school district.

“We have great buildings and great people, and sometimes the scores don’t indicate that … But that’s the game we’re playing and we want to play the game” to win, he said.

In other action, the board renewed its contracts for information technology services with Access, which provides IT services to 26 schools in Columbiana and Mahoning counties. The combined net cost for the managed services, minus federal E-Rate reimbursement, is $103,939.

Superintendent Eric Lowe announced Beaver Local will be hosting a state Destination Imagination tournament on March 30, and he has been told to plan for several thousand students, teachers and parents to show up.

Lowe also reported he is in the process of scheduling a series of town hall meetings in the community to promote renewal of the 4.6-mill operating levy in the May 7 primary election. The levy, which generates $1.2 million per year, failed by less than 100 votes in the November election.

The board approved a salary adjustment for Lisa Congo, retroactive to Sep. 1, 2017. Lowe said this was to correct an oversight involving a salary increase that should have taken affect 18 months ago when Congo reached a continuing education milestone.