EATON — Preble County Educational Service Center board members and administrators discussed the impact of ECSs on state law during their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, March 24.
Assistant to the ESC Superintendent Shawn Hoff once again updated board members on the role of educational service centers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The governor has put a lot on ESCs in terms of organization and information-gathering, and all the ESCs across the state have stepped up and done what was asked,” Hoff said. “And that’s okay, because it means [the governor has] grown to know what ESCs are and the value that they hold.”
Hoff stated in January that a task force created by Gov. Mike DeWine had begun disseminating information to the 51 ESCs in the state, which in turn were responsible for communicating with local school districts and assisting them in scheduling vaccinations for their faculty and staff.
The task force also held regular meetings with ESC superintendents to provide information, updates and solicit feedback, according to Hoff.
These meetings produced tangible results, according to Hoff, in the form of Ohio House Bill 67, recent legislation giving schools increased flexibility in determining eligibility for graduation.
“Some of what we proposed looks like it made it onto the floor and then ultimately into law,” Hoff said, including allowing schools to consider end-of-course grades in place of scores on state-mandated tests when determining whether students have met graduation requirements.
“While it’s not everything we wanted, it’s definitely more than what we had,” Hoff said.
ESC Alternative School
Wednesday’s meeting took place at the Preble County Alternative School, a branch of the ESC serving K-12 students with physical disabilities, mental health and behavioral issues from Preble County and New Lebanon. The school also provides therapy and counseling services.
Principal Brent Short discussed the value the Alternative School brings to students who have suffered trauma.
“I measure it by the success of the people around me,” Short said.
Short shared the story of one student in particular.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen him at his lowest point, in a hospital emergency room after he took some things he shouldn’t have,” Short said. “But now you see him and he’s smiling, he’s engaged, he’s trying to buy a house, he’s got a full-time job. So for me that’s a success, and that’s one of those positive things that we take on.”
Short also praised the alternative school’s teachers.
“Anything that’s a success for me is based on what happens in the classroom,” Short said. “They’re the ones in the trenches every day dealing with this stuff, all day long, and I greatly appreciate everything they do.”
Enrichment for Gifted Students
Enrichment Coordinator Tyler Baker addressed the board about efforts to provide opportunities for students who may be gifted in a variety of areas.
“As I’ve taken time to talk to teachers and administrators, what I’ve found is that enrichment is lacking, primarily in science, technology, engineering, aerospace and math,” Baker said.
Baker proposed combining existing activities such as spelling bees, geography bees, quiz team competitions, art shows, and all-county band with new events including e-sports, which allow students to compete with students at other schools via computer or video game consoles.
“By the time the [2021-22] school year starts, I want to make sure we have a good, rounded enrichment program, something not unlike a liberal arts education,” Baker said. “Something for any student of any ability. That’s what I want, and I firmly believe that if you give me time I can make that happen.”
Baker also wants to offer services for students who might be gifted in some areas while needing help or intervention in others.
The Preble County Educational Service Center board meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the ESC Office, located at 597 Hillcrest Dr. in Eaton.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish