July 24, 2014

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Keystone divided on school year calendar

David Kish, director of curriculum and instruction for Keystone schools, speaks at the Keystone school board meeting on Monday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

David Kish, director of curriculum and instruction for Keystone schools, speaks at the Keystone school board meeting on Monday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

LAGRANGE — Teachers and parents of students involved in 4-H stood divided on how to conquer new state-mandated tests to be implemented in the 2014-15 school year.

While most teachers favored starting the school year early to get a jump on learning, parents of 4-H members said their children would be punished under a new schedule.

Keystone Schools’ Curriculum Director David Kish proposed starting the school year two days before the Lorain County Fair — scheduled Aug. 18 through 24 — to increase the amount of instructional days leading up to performance-based assessments. Those tests will be given next February, according to Kish.

The proposal would allow students to take two days off — Aug. 18 and 19 — for the fair, and staff would be given one day. There would be no early release days during the period of time leading up to the tests, although staff would be given five professional days.

Many parents and 4-H members in attendance at Monday’s Board of Education meeting were opposed to the idea, however. Some criticized Superintendent Jay Arbaugh for what they called a lack of compromise that was promised at the last school board meeting.

“I was under the impression that there was going to be compromise tonight, and I see no compromise,” said parent Tony Monyak, who said students would get behind by missing class time for the fair.

Many parents and 4-H members attending Monday night's Keystone school board meeting were opposed to a proposal that would allow students to take two days off for the fair.

Many parents and 4-H members attending Monday night’s Keystone school board meeting were opposed to a proposal that would allow students to take two days off for the fair.

Arbaugh said there were limited choices due to collective bargaining agreements with the teachers’ union. The school board will either vote on starting school as usual the Tuesday after the fair or starting two days before the fair, according to the proposals presented Monday night.

Kish stressed the importance of starting early. He said students will require more testing, which requires preparation.

Kindergarten assessments consist of a seven-part test. The new computerized tests in reading and math will be approximately one hour and 30 minutes to two hours long, in addition to the tests that previously were required by the state.

Kish, who is holding a meeting 6:30 p.m. today at the high school to discuss the changes in curriculum, said the testing requirements are so stringent that State Superintendent Richard Ross stated it would cause test scores to fall drastically.

“Our students will be tested so much that it changes the way we look at education,” he said.

Kish added that high school students who don’t pass won’t graduate, and third-grade students would be held back if they fail the reading test.

“That is sad. And if you’re not alarmed by something like that, and that’s not a wake up call, then I don’t know what to tell you, because that is sad,” he said.

Monyak, and other parents in attendance, weren’t convinced that extra school hours were needed, however.

“He’s not prepared. He’s up there scaring the crap out of everybody. You know what all the other districts are saying? They’re prepared. You should have been prepared all along,” Monyak said during a heated moment in the meeting.

Lorain County Fair Board President Kim Meyers implored the school board to keep the regular school schedule, saying that the Lorain County Fair offers important education opportunities for students as well.

Adam Cordy, a senior at Keystone High School and 4-H member, stressed the importance of the program.

“Anything that gets changed will not affect me, however, I am very passionate about 4-H. For many, like myself, (the fair) is the most important week of the year,” he said. “Not everybody does sports. People like me are in 4-H for fun.”

Cordy added that 4-H teaches members responsibility, leadership and the importance of agriculture.

Kristin Zatik, a seventh-grade math teacher at Keystone, said beginning early is important. Zanik, who said she participated in 4-H in school, said she has increased standards to cover in class, and the extra time is valuable.

“The teachers are with you. The teachers and staff are not against you,” she said to parents. “We want what’s best for your students.”

The school board likely will vote on a proposal during its next board meeting Feb. 18, according to board member Renee Mezera.

The calendar will affect more than 12 percent of the student population, which the district estimated is in 4-H, although parent Laura Monyak said the number does not account for many students.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

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  • geothemole

    Don’t buy into it 4-Hers. An early start will not impact the scores that drastically as is being told to you. How many skills / concepts will be taught in that short period of time. It is not significant. Instead of taking away Fair time, take out NEOEA day and some other trivial day, but the results won’t change.

  • neoengr

    I’m assuming the collective bargaining agreement has zero flexibility, because it seems no one is talking about the obvious solution. Why argue about 1 or 2 days early when there are five professional days? If the “teachers are with” them, it would seem reducing the professional days from five to three is the way to go. Or, push the professional days back so they fall after February testing. Someone please tell me that this is not a case where five professional days are more important than increased class time.

  • Mark B

    Dont be Fools , its never about the kids , its always about Union Bennfits and Money .

  • MRKISHNEEDSTOGO

    Last night the teachers that spoke all said they care about our kids. That is so untrue. They are the problem! Cut out some vacation time and leave the start date alone. Maybe the parents of the “12″ percent should all take their kids out of keystone and send them to a different rural school that remember and embraces their roots. What would missing the “12″ percent do to the Keystone budget? Keystone has take FFA away from our kids now they want to take away the fair. Maybe the school board should remember the people that voted for them. Maybe the school board should look at the people they have hired like the superintendent. Maybe Keystone as a whole needs to remember where they came from. We all need to remember with out agriculture where would any of us be?

  • Barb

    Here is another example of leaving the parents to pick up the pieces for the kids. The fair is not just for the kids that are in 4 -H it is for all kids. If they are in school during the fair who will be taking care of the projects!?!?! Yes the parents and we wonder why kids are the way they are today!

  • Bob Sweatt

    WOW. It’s just a fair. Let put education ahead of everything else. That way are kids will be prepared for real life.

    This is another reason why kids have a “it’s all about me” mentality. We fold to their demands.

    If you kids is in 4-H and wants to worry about their “project” before their education. Then let them miss school during the fair.

    This is about the dumbest debate I have seen in a long time. And yes my daughter goes to Keystone. And yes she will be in school instead of being at the fair. Because in our household, education comes first before anything else.

    And go ahead and make fun of my grammar. I can take it. I might tell you to go something to yourself. But you can still make fun of it.

    • MRKISHNEEDSTOGO

      Mr. Sweatt,
      You have no idea what 4H has to offer. Life is not all about the 3 Rs!!! These kids learn responsibility, the value of hard work, winning and losing, money management, I could go on and on. 4H is much MORE than the fair. Please have all the facts before you pass judgement.

      • Bob Sweatt

        Yawn!!! You seem to have a bias opinion about the whole thing. So to me your opinion doesn’t matter.

        I don’t care either. But for you to say ” life isn’t all about the 3 R’s is laughable. Apparently you would rather have you kids at a fair then in school learning something important.

        • It has to stop

          Bob it’s simple. Is there any other district starting school early for these test? I’m not aware of any. Like it’s stated in the article, Keystone has not prepared properly for the tests and is now trying to make the 4H children suffer for it.

  • Stacy Krueck

    These kids work on these projects all year some of them are multiple year projects. It’s essentially the culmination of all the hard work they put forth in their endeavor. So what they are asking is hey we know you worked all this time but it’s not important to us at least so blow it off. And for the people who say ooohh the fair who cares, you don’t know the work these kids put into their projects the time they put in, which is a lot depending on the project some work with their animals hours a day feeding them walking them training them to stand a certain way walk a certain way, what they can eat, cleaning stalls, bathing animals. It’s a lot of work and these kids take pride in their work. If the parents have to take care of their projects it defeats the purpose of seeing things thru to the end. They need to find another way to make up the time extend the school hours, get rid of early release, get rid of some NEOEA days.

    • Joe Smith

      Kids should go to school 12 months a year then they could have time to miss certain days as they would have the time to make it up. They also would be either able to spread the insane amount of homework out over a whole year or get a little more education and even graduate a year or so early and get a jump on college.

      • Mark B

        Yea now there is an idea , and then the teachers could work a full year too .Instead of 180 days for 70K

        • stillsleepyeyes

          Now that’s funny………………..work a whole year…………I can hear them union people screaming from here…………….

  • keystone parent

    I built here 14 years ago for both the school system and the rural flavor of the district (from Avon Lake). I am troubled by an administration that becomes deaf to the traditions of the community especially when the schools are asking for yet another levy. Mr. Arbaugh, poor families, as reflected in free and reduced lunches, does not translate into poor test scores at Keystone much as it doesn’t translate into high crime (neither of which keystone has). Teachers, do you see the tone of the posts? Support for you is community based too.

  • keystone parent

    If the State is mandating a curriculum and the teachers teach to the test until February, why are we paying for a curriculum director? The curriculum is already mandated, so order compliant books and eliminate an administrative position. If the only measure of a school is performance on the state test, begin next years test material in Feb. If the school system is technologically advanced, have a summer test preparation crammer course on-line that needs to be completed before the start of school. I have no doubt that students participating in 4H will do just fine missing school on fair week. They willingly impose more responsibility on themselves and will overcome a school system that has cast off rural values in favor of becoming just another generic suburb.

  • Keystone Parent

    This is all so true yet so sad. We should all take our kids to another district that respects 4H, and FFA. What will that do for you Keystone? Will the loss of, in your words 12% of your students effect you? You have taken so much by eliminating FFA you have no idea! I was told by another superintendent that when they talked to Keystone about bringing back FFA, that we don’t need FFA our students go to college. What a joke most kids with Ag backgrounds go to college. Ignorance needs to go back to the suburbs! The Keystone board of education needs to open there eyes and make some changes. Because all I see is Keystone going down the toilet! My household will be voting NO on your upcoming levy!

    • Dj Copley

      My brother and I were both Keystone graduates that participated in FFA. We both won scholarships through FFA. While the high school prepared us for college, FFA prepared us for life.

  • Margie Klinect

    Westerville is one of several central Ohio school districts to use online assignments that can count as a full day of instruction when weather closes schools.

    I’m surprised no-one at Keystone has suggested this option. So many are being schooled these days via the internet.