What are we Building at the Football Field and Why?

 

I’m sure most people are aware that there has been construction going on at the football field throughout the summer, and we are excited to have what will be a facility to provide our students with additional and improved experiences from an extra-curricular perspective.  That building, first and foremost, is designed to be a wrestling practice facility for our very successful wrestling teams.

 

Over the years, the wrestlers have practiced in the high school in what we call the upper gym.  Various other groups, mostly sports teams, find themselves competing for that space, which becomes cumbersome.  Due to the nature of wrestling, their mats need to be cleaned daily, and any disruption of these mats require a re-cleaning of the mats, resulting in the loss of practice time.  The space was also used by indoor track and all levels of the baseball and softball teams. It was simply not fair to all the parties involved to have them continually fight over the same space during the same seasons.  An additional wrestling room has been on our wish list for many years, but it has never reached the top of the priority list or had the funding match the desire to build this building…until now.

 

So, how are we paying for this building?  

 

During the construction project that occurred in 2007 and 2008, we worked with the State of Ohio to build two new elementary buildings and renovate the middle school and high school, for a project total of $63 million.  About fifty percent of that $63 million was very generously provided to us by the taxpayers of the Wapakoneta City Schools.  When construction projects are completed, school districts in the state of Ohio need to “settle up,” so to speak.  That is a very long process, and in fact, it did not happen until about a year ago when we were finally able to reconcile the results of the building project with the State of Ohio.  It is not uncommon for school districts to owe the state additional dollars when that process is done, nor is it uncommon for school districts to have money left over.  We were fortunate to have money remaining from the interest earned on our local dollars that we were holding onto until the project closed to determine if we owed the state any money.  Since we did not owe the state any money, that resulted in our having about $900,000 in interest earned that we could only use for permanent improvement.  If you do not know, permanent improvement dollars are dollars that can typically be used for things like buildings, books, and buses.  This fund surplus provided us with the opportunity to construct the wrestling practice facility at the football field.  

 

Why is it at the football field?

 

We looked at many options and worked with many different people, including the Board of Education, wrestling coaches, supporters of wrestling, and also the athletic boosters to determine the best options during the planning phase.  Placing the structure at the high school was considered.  However, when we combined that with the need for us to have an additional locker room space at the football facility for other athletic events, like football and track, we decided that the best and most economical use of our dollars was to place it at the football field.  

 

We are excited to provide improved facilities for not only the wrestlers, but all of our athletic teams, an opportunity to either have new space or space in which they no longer have to compete for practice time.

Local and National Mental Health Resources

There are certainly challenging times for every person as they travel through life, but it is most difficult for adolescents who are learning, growing, and forming their long-term attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions.  Spring appears to be a difficult time of year for adolescents.  We are kind of in the “dog days” of the school year and many relationships are formed, and/or perhaps damaged, as the year progresses.  All of these variables impact the emotional health of our students. As parents and adults working with adolescents, we can be critical to guiding and supporting these students through this part of their lives.

Being a teenager today is extremely difficult, in my mind–probably more difficult than when most of the moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas of today grew up.  If I could point to one reason for this more complex time in their lives, it would be the introduction of social media, which is here to stay, but needs to be managed in a positive way.  Still, teenagers most typically want to belong and are trying to handle expectations from home, school, a job, a coach, and/or experiencing deep disappointment for the first time. Teenagers may have an initial vision in their mind of what they believe their life should look like and can quickly become discouraged as they progress through high school and begin to face their first life challenges….not to mention the cultural pressures that are inside each high school, circle of friends, town, and within social media.

My blog today is to share additional resources for parents and students.  While we strive to form meaningful relationships with students, our training and our role is focused on educating students. We are professionally trained from an educational perspective rather than a mental health perspective, which is why it is important to have these additional resources available to you outside of the school setting.  These resources are listed below, but are also on our website under the tab “Family Resources” at both the Wapakoneta High School and the wapak.org web addresses. I encourage you to become familiar with them if needed.

State and National Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  

1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line:

Text your message to: 741-741

Local Resources:

If you are in crisis or need assistance including suicide prevention, call 1-800-567-4673 (Hope) or text to 741741

Summary of Programs from the local Mental Health Board can be found:

http://media.wix.com/ugd/803dbd_168cd978bafa463d86503b948ff9c3e1.pdf

Youth Mental Health Agency:

http://www.frcohio.com/

Adult Mental Health Agency:

http://www.colemanservices.org/

Sometimes, as parents, we need additional help. I hope you find these resources beneficial during those times.

Keith Horner, Superintendent

Stop the testing madness for your kids and restore local control!

The short description below was written by fellow Superintendent Bob Humble from Fairbanks and is being shared throughout Ohio as Superintendents across Ohio are tired of over-testing our student and your kids. We need your help on this issue!

In 2016 the federal government finally got around to passing a new law designed to replace the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).    The new legislation, The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is designed to provide new flexibility to the states.  It requires that states across the nation submit plans for implementation of the federal rules to the US Department of Education this spring.  The new law is structured such that learning and testing decisions are returned to the states and even local districts. The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) had many meetings across the state to hear from people about how the new state plan should look.  Over and over, at those sessions, participants urged the ODE to reduce the amount of state testing – a change that is allowable in the new federal law.    Recently, Ohio officials released a draft of their plan.   Disappointingly, the Ohio does not reduce testing at all.  In fact, it maintains current levels of testing, failing to hear the urgent and overwhelming advice of the people of the state.   If you, like me, are outraged by the ongoing test and punish philosophy in our state, I urge you to go to http://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Every-Student-Succeeds-Act-ESSA/ESSA_Framework_Report.pdf.aspx to read the proposed plan.  Then, add your comment here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ESSAOhioOverview to tell the plan designers to follow the minimum requirements set forth by the federal government.

Of course, contacting our legislators is also a great way to voice your concerns.  Representative Keith Faber can be reached by email at:  rep84@ohiohouse.gov. Representative Craig Riedel can be reached by email at: rep82@ohiohouse.gov. Representative Bob Cupp can be reached at: rep04@ohiohouse.gov. Senator Cliff Hite  can be reached by email at: sd01@ohiosenate.gov. Senator Matt Huffman can be reached at sd12@ohiosenate.gov.

This is a golden opportunity to get local control back into our schools.  I urge you to join me in calling on Ohio’s leaders to step forward and enact common sense reform for the benefit of Ohio’s public school children.

Thank you for your help.

Thank a School Board Member!

January is School Board Appreciation Month and we are very blessed to have a consistent school board that is loaded with common-sense thinking.  

 

I believe that any person who previously served on the school board in the past or is currently serving on the school board will tell you that there are many more variables involved in a school system than they expected or were aware of prior to becoming a school board member.  That makes the job rewarding, challenging, frustrating, and extremely important.  The five individuals who serve the Wapakoneta City School Board deserve recognition, as they have led the charge in many different areas, including the fact that they want to, first, always serve children, and second, consistently make Wapakoneta City Schools better.  

 

Our current school board consists of the following: Brent Schwartz, Ron Mertz, Josh Little, Willie Sammetinger, and Patrick Gibson. If you have a moment, please take time to thank a school board member, past and present, in recognition of School Board Appreciation Month. In fact, take time to thank any public official who is agreeing to serve, as all of these positions are complex and thankless.  
Keith Horner, Superintendent

Lessons Learned from the Stop Common Core Movement

DECEMBER 2016

Lessons Learned from the Stop Common Core Movement

It was not long ago that you were seeing, and you can occasionally still see, a “Stop Common Core” sign.   The Stop Common Core movement was a grassroots movement that created a great deal of passion and enthusiasm surrounding the implementation of a national curriculum and testing system.  One of the many initial goals was to ensure that students who were transient would receive the same content as they moved from district to district and state to state.

The involvement of the federal government’s Race to the Top initiative incentivized states and school districts to adopt this Common Core curriculum and complicated the initiative. These were financial incentives that the Federal Government financed, essentially creating a federally mandated curriculum that schools really had no choice but to adopt.

This grassroots movement to stop the Common Core proved to be very effective, as the Ohio legislature not only dramatically reduced the amount of overtesting that was taking place in school districts, but they also mandated that the curriculum standards be rewritten, and that process is underway.  

The important part about this is that the majority of people communicating with our legislators were concerned citizens and not professional educators. They worked tirelessly to stop the implementation of a nationalized curriculum and the over testing of our students.  

As a result of this movement, superintendents across Ohio learned that it is not enough to be the only voices talking to legislators about educational issues. As a result, school superintendents in west central Ohio and across the state have organized to work more closely with legislators, in a respectful and helpful manner.  When our efforts don’t work, we would like use the model that the Stop Common Core movement used. By informing and requesting help from parents and community members to discuss educational issues with their local legislators, we hope to have more local control of our educational decisions.  

In the future, there may be occasions that I request our community’s help. We need your voices to be heard on educational issues that simply don’t make sense, like the mandated overtesting of students.

In an effort to communicate more, I’m also introducing my blog that will be shared via our notification system and posted on our website at www.wapak.org. Not all of these post will be requests for help.  In fact, that may be infrequent.  Many may be simply communications about various issues, events, activities, or bragging items that we would like to share with you.  However, when I need your help, I will attempt to ask directly and provide you with enough information on an issue for you to be well informed.  

Keith Horner, Superintendent