Greene Co school board approves 2018-19 contracts

The early retirement of seven teachers at the end of this school year kept the Greene County board of education from having to make further reductions in staff for 2018-19. The board at its March 21 regular meeting approved renewing the contracts for all current teachers, classifed staff and bus drivers.

Retiring teachers are Susan Turner, Annette Meier and Diane Wallace at the elementary school, Tom Braun and the middle school, and Dave Destival, Beth Vanderwilt and Donna Carhill at the high school. Some of the vacancies created by their retirement will not be filled.

The board also approved the purchase of a 77-passenger bus at cost of $82,600. The cost is lower than previous bus purchases because the vehicle is a stock bus at the dealership. Additionally, the district is receiving a $20,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency toward the purchase. The funds will come from physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) funds.

The board approved a revised policy for superintendent evaluation. The revised policy includes “formative” evaluations in October and January. Those evaluations will be a chance to review strengths and weaknesses and check progress on goals that were agreed upon in July, before the new school year. The more formal evaluation will be done in March. Every other year the March evaluation will include a survey sent to a sampling of other administrators, staff, students and community members.

Elementary counselors Teresa Skalla and Deb Marquardt reported their activities to the board and asked consideration of increasing staffing to two fulltime counselors there.
Skalla has been elementary counselor for many years. Marquardt teaches at the high school, but has previous experience in elementary guidance. This year her teaching assignment includes two hours a day four times a week at the elementary school. That brings the staffing level to 1.25 counselors for 530 students. According to Marquardt, the American School Counselor Association recommends one fulltime counselor for every 250 students.

With the addition of Marquardt’s time, all students in grades K-4 have a guidance counselor in their classroom once a week.

Marquardt sees grades K-2. She works on problem solving, skills for good learning, empathy and emotional management.

When elementary students are sent to the office for discipline issues, they’re also referred to Skalla. She has tracked the number of “major behavior’ referrals this year. She described those referrals as “the biggies” – targeting physically, using profanity, or threatening each other. She said the number peaked in November at an average of more than five per day, but declined to one per day in February.

“We like to think it’s because we can get into every classroom every week and the teachers are hearing to our lessons and reinforcing them more,” Skalla said.

Marquardt said she sees a big difference in the family issues students dealt with 15 years ago than they do now. Skalla said children are exposed to more violence and sexual content than before, too.

Skalla said that with two fulltime counselors, one could do classroom lessons on a regular schedule like art, phys ed and music, and the other would be available for small group lessons, pre-kindergarten lessons, and dealing with student crises. She said she has been called out of classroom lessons to deal with a student in crisis.

Marquardt said it would be easier to respond to student needs and help all students, not just those who are the neediest. “Everybody needs to learn how to be empathetic. Everybody needs to learn problem serving. Everybody needs to gain emotional regulation. When it’s sparse you have to hit the high need kids, and sometimes the other kids don’t get that,” she said.

No decision was made on increasing elementary guidance counseling.

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