Highlights from 12/18/14 school board meeting

All-Day Kindergarten pilot program to be added next school year
Existing Seipelt land to be transferred to Miami Township

Happy Holidays!  Cards from Seipelt Students

I apologize for not yet having the Athletic & Extracurricular updates for this month:  my email apparently ate the file; I will upload them once school is back in session in early January.  In the meantime, here are the highlights from the 12/18/14 school board meeting: Continue reading


All-Day Kindergarten pilot program to be added next school year

kindergarten-clip-art-kinAfter reviewing a number of options for All-Day Kindergarten (ADK), the board voted to implement a pilot program beginning next school year. One class will be added at each school, with the option to add another class if demand requires. Continue reading

Highlights from 11/21/2013 school board meeting

Thank you for your support!
Athletic Update
Extracurricular Update

Here is an overview of what happened at the November 21, 2013 school board meeting:

  • The district recognized a half dozen veterans who had served in several different armed forces.  Boyd E. Smith Principal Doug Savage says they hold a breakfast each year in honor of veterans, focusing on service, unselfishness and what it means to be a true patriot.  “It’s a very important event for Boyd,” he said, “and without the veterans, the message wouldn’t be nearly as strong.”
  • The Builders’ Club is the Junior High version of Key Club; they do a number of service programs, including collecting items for our troops each year.  This year, they presented a roomful of boxes (over 170!) to Troop Box Ministries, filled with 7,580 items they had collected.  They also went door-to-door, asking for donations to cover the postage, and wrote over 1,000 cards/letters!  Diane Lawrence of Troop Box Ministries says Milford Schools has been supporting them for 13 years.  These boxes will last the organization over 6 months, allowing them to send items on a regular basis.
  • Max Hartley and Corbin Hooker of the Class of 2014 were recognized for achieving Commended status in this year’s National Merit Scholarship competition.  Max and Corbin were two of appr. 34,000 students who scored highly enough on the PSAT test to be named Commended Students.  Over 1.5 million students took the test last year, so this is a truly amazing accomplishment – congrats, Max & Corbin!
  • Debbie Marques, who chose not to run for re-election this year, will be leaving the Milford school board as of December 31, 2013.  Dr. Farrell and the board recognized her for eight years of service to the district.  Debbie lived through some extremely difficult times in the Milford school district, including seeing the district enter Fiscal Caution and then turn itself around to become fiscally stable.  Thank you, Debbie, for your eight years of service!
  • Treasurer Debbie Caudle reported the budget is currently on track.  She also thanked Dave Spurlock, one of our maintenance staff, who is always thinking about ways to save.  When some light burned out, Dave not only took the initiative to price different bulbs, but he also submitted for a rebate and got it!  The $375 rebate he earned us shows just how committed our people are to helping the district manage operations in a fiscally responsible manner.  Thank you, Dave!
  • Mrs. Caudle also thanked 3M for donating 200 projectors valued at $59,998.
  • The board had a first reading of two policies that we are considering changing to eliminate use of any type of nicotine or “cigarette-style” product by students.  This is a concern because of things like e-cigarettes and vapor pens.  E-cigarettes are usually used to help people quit smoking, but many students are starting to use them because they do contain nicotine.  Vapor pens use water vapor to provide flavor and sometimes nicotine.  The discussion at the meeting was that any type of cigarette-type or nicotine product is not acceptable for use at school or on school property.
  • Superintendent Dr. Farrell provided an update on Race to the Top.  We applied for this grant to help get our staff and curriculum ready for the changes coming in state law and in our curriculum.  We received $320,000 in federal money under the categories of improving standards & assessment; using data to improve instruction; and creating great teachers & leaders.  The money funded things we would have to do anyway – write new curriculum, train & develop our teachers, etc.
  • Jeff Johnson provided an update on the construction projects.  We had around 100 people attend the first Seipelt community input meeting, held on October 23.  Some of the concerns raised were zoning; what will happen with the property not chosen; daily operation during construction; traffic noise for neighbors; traffic density around the site; impact on future homebuyers; and location.  There were also a good number of people at the Boyd E. Smith community input meeting held October 29.  The issues there were different, focusing more on school size and design.  The next step is to hire the architect, which will be done in the next few weeks.  Out of 12 highly qualified companies, the state and district narrowed the choices to three.  One firm, SHP, really stood out.  They have worked on many projects in this area and are strong in the K-12 education arena.  They also have proven 21st century designs that do not sacrifice efficiencies in building or operating.  The board and state are also in the process of choosing a construction manager, which will also be complete in the upcoming few months.

Language arts requirements far more advanced

By David Yockey

Milford has recently initiated a new language arts curriculum in grades 6-12.  This curriculum was designed and written by our teachers and is directly aligned to the New Learning Standards in Ohio.

Text complexity has increased at each grade level in order to align to the National Learning Standards.  For example, texts that in the past might have been a grade 9 or 10 text now align with the grade 8 text complexity requirement.  Writing expectations have increased significantly (although Milford has a long history of high expectations in writing) to align with the focus on informational/expository writing as well as argumentative writing. Continue reading

The cost of an extra bottle of perfume

By Andrea Brady

Seth Godin, a marketer, author and one of my favorite bloggers, recently wrote an article about marginal cost.  In it, he asks, “How much does it cost Wikipedia to have one more person read an article? How much does it cost Chanel to produce one more bottle of perfume? How about one more digital copy of a Grateful Dead concert?”

Marginal, or incremental, cost is of great concern to school districts, too.  The standard measure of “how much it takes to educate a student” is the state’s calculation of expenditure per pupil.  However, this is not an accurate number for several reasons.

The way expenditure per pupil is calculated is to take total expenditures (in categories as defined by the state) and divide this by the total number of students served that past year.  If you understand what is in this number, it is a good way to compare districts and get a feel for a district’s efficiency.  And, I’m happy to say, Milford’s expenditure per pupil has been lower than not only other excellent districts, but also the state average, for quite a few years.  In addition, when you adjust the number to account for costs that shouldn’t be included because they aren’t truly expenses (see my article here), we look even better. Continue reading

Closing the gender achievement gap

By Gary Knepp

“We collected a great deal of data and what we saw was there was a significant achievement gap between boys and girls and that seemed to grow as students went from first grade to seniors in high school.”

This quote is from Ms. Nancy House, Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction for the Milford school district, in a June 2010 video produced by Clermont County Today (found here on YouTube, and another video from 2011 found here on YouTube).  It refers to work done over a period of about three years total through a committee of community members, parents, teachers and administrators in the Milford school district.

This committee originated when I became concerned about gender learning differences, sparked by a book review of Peg Tyre’s The Trouble with Boys.  After reading the book from cover to cover, I began to collect research papers on the subject and review statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.  They bore out Ms. Tyre’s conclusion that there is a crisis in boy’s educational achievement.  Based upon several months of research, I recommended to the Board of Education that a committee be established to study this issue at Milford.  The Board approved that recommendation and the committee was established. Continue reading

Milford’s Teaching Professions program honored as “outstanding program”

By David Yockey

On Thursday, October 10, at the Fall Conference of the Southwest Region of the Ohio School Boards association, Milford’s Teaching Professions program was honored as an “outstanding program.”  This program is taught by Jennifer Shay-Norsworthy and is a “satellite” program of the Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development.

Students in this program recently made a national impact with a presentation on learning disabilities that wowed the judges and earned them first place in the nation at the National Future Educators Association conference in Orlando.  The Teaching Professions students earned the right to attend the conference as national semi-finalists based on research they did on learning disabilities.  In Orlando, they gave a 15-minute presentation on how to make learning attainable to students with disabilities.  “These students did so well in the presentation that the judges stayed for almost two hours after the competition in order to talk with them,” said instructor Shay-Norsworthy.  “They told the students that they came across as professionals already working in the field, not as high school students.” Continue reading

Does size really matter?

by Gary Knepp

The relationship between class size and student performance has been a controversy for years.  And it has become an issue in this year’s Board of Education race.  One candidate has charged that “Milford is breaking the law” because one class at McCormick exceeds the mandated 25 students to one teacher ratio.  He claimed that he has threatened to sue the district over this alleged infraction.

Does he have a case?

Ohio regulations state that in grades K-4 there shall not be more than a 25 student to 1 teacher ratio on a district-wide basis.  The key term is district-wide.  The regulation, therefore, allows for some individual classes to exceed the mandate.  The figures provided by the administration show that it complies with state regulations.  The district is not “breaking the law.”

Does size really matter?  Do students perform better in smaller class settings?  It depends upon what expert or research study you consult. Continue reading

Milford continues on path of academic excellence

In the past six years, Milford has seen an upward trend in academic achievement by our students, due to a concerted effort among staff and teachers to find better ways to reach students, as well as improved teamwork between the district and families.

This year, the state released a new report card to evaluate how districts are performing:  instead of “Excellent” and so on, districts are now giving letter grades on different areas. The new evaluation structure is much different – and much more rigorous – than the past system.  In this first year, not all areas are measured; the new report card will be phased in over the next two years.

At the September 19 board meeting, Dr. Jill Chin, Director of Elementary Curriculum, and Mrs. Nancy House, Director of Secondary Curriculum, presented the results of the state report card and also our own Quality Profile which looks at a variety of factors in the education process. Continue reading

SMART goals for 2013-14

SMART goals are annual stretch goals:  if achieved, they would take the district to a significantly higher level.

This year’s SMART goals are below.  Dr. Farrell and the administrative staff believe these are achievable based on specific opportunity areas they have been able to identify.  This year’s goals will also be helped by the additional pre-testing all districts are doing to be able to evaluate if they are meeting state student achievement requirements.  The testing will help us determine precisely where each student is at the beginning of the year, allowing teachers to focus on individual needs to achieve more than a year’s growth over the school year.

MEVSD 2013-14 SMART Goals

  1. The district will improve achievement for all students by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.  We will target the goal of exceeding more than a year’s growth in student achievement in a year’s time for every student.We will improve student achievement by:*  Implementing pedagogy to meet the new learning standards and implement the aligned local curricula.
    *  Planning instruction for all students based on their pre-assessment data and intervening with all students as needed.We will measure student achievement in a variety of ways.  They include the following growth targets:

    *  Our Performance Index for the state assessments will improve to 107.

    *  All of our students in all groups will meet Annual Measurable Objectives as determined by the state of Ohio.

    *  Students in grades k-8 taking MAP and Pro-Core assessments will demonstrate more than a year’s growth in achievement in a year’s time.

    *  Students in grades 9-12 taking the ACT suite of tests that include the “Explore,” Plan” and “ACT” will demonstrate more than a year’s growth in a year’s time.

    *  Maintain current high numbers of students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and increase passage rate to 76%.

  2. The district will increase writing opportunities for all students to align with new local curricula across the curriculum by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.*  100% of k-5 students will meet grade level standards in reading and writing through the Ready Gen program.*  100% of grades 6-12 students will score at the proficient level on the district-created rubric for expository and argumentative writing, focusing specifically on ELA and social studies.

    *  100% of students in grades 6-12 will write an expository or argumentative essay in science that will be scored using the district rubric.