CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee Board of Education swore in new members, renewed the contracts of two administrators, and addressed concerns about services for special education students at its first meeting of the Spring 2020 semester.
Newly re-elected board members Gary Rader, Nick Duskey, and Jeff Wood were sworn in by district treasurer Lori Green at the top of the Monday, Jan. 13, meeting. Wood was elected vice-president of the board, while sitting president Julie Singleton was re-elected to that position.
In addition, the board voted unanimously to renew the contracts of Superintendent Matt Bishop and Treasurer Lori Green for a five-year term beginning in August of 2021 and expiring in July 2026.
Football players Ben Hobbs and Ty Stevenson received certificates of achievement from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, while instructors Kim Willoughby, Sylvia Arcuragi and Cody McPherson were recognized by the Western Ohio Education Association, Preble County Chamber of Commerce, and Ohio Music Education Association, respectively.
Preble Shawnee FFA president Megan Roell and sentinel Jared Dunn updated the board on FFA activities, including a Leadership Night lock-in event where students spent 12 hours working with FFA state officers; a planned Professional Development Day where students will teach instructors from other subject areas about the FFA; and the group’s attendance at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.
“Hundreds of blue jackets,” Roell said. “Thousands of blue jackets. It’s crazy to be at.”
During the public participation portion of the meeting, local business owner and parent Eshelle Bales raised concerns about a number of issues, including the school district’s percentage of disabled and economically disadvantaged students, which is the highest in Preble County.
“It seems like these kids fall through the cracks sometimes, and that’s frustrating,” Bales said. In particular, Bales raised the issue of students with an I.E.P. — Individualized Education Program, a map that lays out the program of instruction, supports, and services offered to special education students — receiving failing grades.
“I don’t ever feel like a kid with an I.E.P. should get an F,” Bales said. “If a kid has an F, there’s something that needs to be addressed.”
“That’s a constant examination we have to go through with all our students, whether they have an I.E.P. or not,” Bishop said. “Not only are we giving them whatever accommodation they need, but are they putting in the effort needed? If a student is meeting their maximum potential, that should translate into a positive grade in the course. If it doesn’t, then that’s something we need to re-evaluate.”
Board member Gary Rader agreed.
“We don’t want to see kids slipping through the cracks, and neither do our teachers,” Rader said. “We take that to heart.”
Bishop also reiterated the importance of the upcoming levy and bond issue set to be voted on in March. The five-year, .75-mill income tax levy, according to Bishop, will continue to fund general operations costs for the school district, as well as allowing renovations to the junior and senior high school building, including the installation of air conditioning.
The 3.75-mill, 25-year bond issue, meanwhile, will fund construction of a new PreK-5 building in Camden.
“We’re hoping for a big turn-out, so that whether people vote yes or they vote no, we’ll know what to do next,” Bishop said. “There’s enough voters in our community to pass or fail either one, but we hope that we’ve earned the community’s support by being transparent with the process. The community spoke, and we listened.”
Preble Shawnee Board of Education meetings typically take place the second Thursday of each month, at 6 p.m., at the Board of Education office, located at 124 Bloomfield St. in Camden.