(Posted Sept. 16, 2015)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
College entrance exams are challenging, but members of the Jefferson Local senior class of 2015 were up to the challenge and raised local average ACT scores across the board to a five-year high.
Principal Dave Metz shared the information with school board members during a Sept. 14 meeting.
“It was a pretty good jump we made,” said Metz. “We had a good group of seniors last year and we’re obviously proud of those scores.
“Within a small high school, there will be changes from year to year, but I think we can attribute part of the change over the last three years to the ACT boot camp.”
According to figures released by ACT, 52 members of West Jefferson High School’s senior class took the test and, out of 36 possible points, those students scored an average of 21.5 in English. A year earlier, the average was 18.7.
In mathematics, the score was 21.9. In 2014, the same category average was 19.5. Seniors beat the district average in reading by more than two points over the previous year, going from 20.6 to 22.8. They scored 22.3 in science in 2015, up from 21.3 in 2014. The average composite score across the four categories was 22.3, up from 20.1 in 2014.
Metz also commented on the accomplishments of senior Grant Dersom, recently named a National Merit Scholarship Program semi-finalist. He was one of 1.5 million students in more than 22,000 schools who took a PSAT qualifying test in 2014.
“Grant is one of the 16,000 students nationwide and one of 603 in Ohio to be named a semi-finalist,” said Metz, who also reported that Dersom received a Honda/OSU Math Medal and aced the math portion of the ACT test.
“He is one of our open enrollment students who came here as a freshman. He’ll be at the October board meeting to be recognized.”
Levy on fall ballot
In other presentations, Superintendent William Mullett commented on the upcoming emergency operating levy, which he said goes back 30 years. He emphasized the levy is a renewal and is on the ballot for a seven-year term.
Since the issue does not ask for new money, property owners will retain a 12.5 percent Homestead rollback, if the levy is passed.
“It will simply be a renewal,” said Mullett, “and will cost $55 less per $100,000 of valuation (compared with the current levy, which expires at the end of 2016).
“We want to give taxpayers and the community a bit of a break. There are not too many opportunities in these challenging times to save taxpayers a little money.”
Previous levy requests included renewals with an increase, but the board elected to maintain the status quo for the fall ballot. The levy generates approximately $1.4 million a year.
According to Treasurer Jill Williams, although current levy language states it is 9.5 mills, with the state rollback, property owners pay taxes on 8.9 mills. The district is forgoing a potential $150,000 increase in order to benefit taxpayers by not bumping up the request to cover the millage rollback.
Technology integration specialist Kristen Kearns updated board members on her interactions with staff since the position was created by the board earlier this year.
Her activities thus far include addressing Smartboard issues, professional development, working with second- and third-graders with new Chromebooks, establishing computer accounts and working with art teacher Thomas Ruane on setting up a video feed for Norwood Elementary’s morning announcements.
“I’ve been incredibly busy this year in just 20 school days,” said Kearns, who works with teachers and classified employees in whole groups, small groups and one-on-one.
“I’ve had seven staff meetings, 19 small group meetings and met with 49 individuals in just the first 20 days. I’ve helped at least 62 percent of our staff members already.”
Technology Coordinator Curt Dennis previously said the new position is instrumental in helping teachers with professional development and assisting them in using technology in the classroom.