PARKERSBURG - Spurred by last week's concerns over the Edison Middle School summer reading program, school system officials Tuesday presented members of the Wood County Board of Education with a report on the program.
Board member Jim Fox expressed concern about the program being mandatory and students having a grade attached to it. He was also worried about the timing, as parents didn't receive notification until late July.
"We need proper notification for these programs," Fox said. "It needs to be timely for parents. We fell short."
Mike Winland, director of secondary schools in Wood County, speaks with Ryan Taylor, president of Pickering Associates, prior to the start of Tuesday’s board of education meeting. (Photo by Jody Murphy)
Tuesday, school system officials alleviated those concerns, as Judy Johnson, director of curriculum and instruction; Joe Oliverio, director of elementary schools, and Mike Winland, director of secondary schools, made presentations on the program.
Winland said any issues with the program were not the fault of the school, but system officials. He said teachers were given memos stating students would be held accountable.
"In their mind accountable means mandatory," he said. "Communication is more on us than the schools."
"I don't like 'mandatory,' but we do want everyone to do it," Johnson said. "I like the word 'encourage.'"
Johnson said education officials need to encourage reading and build reading stamina, particularly in the summer. She said reading as little as 30 minutes a day exposes kids to a million words a year.
"Reading is the foundation for every other curriculum we have," she said.
Oliverio said parents were given some direction and all schools promoted some type of reading.
Robin Miller, an Edison parent, spoke during the meeting, raising concerns about the timing of the program. Miller said the newsletter received in late July left little time for the program to be completed by the start of the school year.
"The time to accomplish the program is severely limited," she said.
Winland said some teachers probably forget to discuss the program with students at the end of the school year and the newsletter that went out in July was the first some parents heard about the program.
"I'm not sure all the information was fed out to people who needed it in a timely manner," he said. Winland said Edison- like the rest of the county's schools- should be commended for challenging students.
Fox noted school officials planned to grade students on the program, making it the first grade of the year.
"Making things due the day they walked in was never the intent," Winland said. "They wanted students to have read when they walked in the door."
"It was a success in that reading was encouraged," he added. "Can we get more consistency? Yes. ... We learned from it and will do better to promote it in the future."
Board members took no action on the matter. Johnson said the fact this has been discussed will make officials more aware of the program for the coming year.
Board members also received a report from Ryan Taylor, president of Pickering Associates, on the Stadium Field project. Taylor estimated more than $176,000 is needed to get the bleachers in order and up to specifications by Sept. 20.
Taylor met with a state fire marshal this week to see what needs to be completed for the bleachers to be compliant for operations. He said the ADA ramp could be incomplete, but all steps and handrails must be installed.
Temporary handrails were acceptable so as long as they met code, he said. The front row must be completed. Taylor said the fire marshal noted small modifications need to made to the stairs leading to press box. He labeled that a "minimal fix."
He told board members approximately $150,000 is needed for the work, with $26,000 set aside for "hidden contingencies."
To date, the total estimated cost of the project is almost $1.9 million.
Taylor noted $168,000 of work and materials has been donated or purchased for the product by the laborers, construction company, Pickering or private individuals.
"The building trades has made huge contributions," said board president Tim Yeater.