East Clinton Schools stretched thin on substitute bus drivers


SABINA — A lack of substitute bus drivers is a problem for East Clinton Local Schools, reported the superintendent.

“We’ve had to Band-Aid to get the regular routes covered. We’re very stretched at this point,” East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee said at Tuesday’s school board session in Sabina.

Substitute drivers have been out for different reasons, he said, and consequently the district does not have enough bus drivers to cover everything.

If something isn’t done, there will be extra-curricular sports trips that go uncovered, forecast Magee.

At the end of the discussion, board members approved advertising that there is one substitute bus driver job now available. In a change they hope will entice people to apply, the district will offer medical insurance coverage for the position. The substitute position will continue to pay by the hour, and there will continue to be no guaranteed number of hours.

Other school districts are reportedly experiencing similar problems with a driver shortage. In the case of East Clinton, Magee thinks the difficulty may boil down to people needing a particular license that costs money, and yet those same people cannot count on a certain number of hours even if they are hired.

The district also plans to have a job posting for a social worker/therapist who would work mainly with students at the two elementary buildings. Magee hopes that by the October board meeting, there will be a person to recommend for the position.

This past winter, Sabina Elementary School Principal Jennie Pierson told the school board, “The mental health needs that come to us, it’s unbelievable. Because you wouldn’t think in a K-to-5 building that there would be the need that we have.”

On Tuesday, Pierson had a brighter topic to talk about: the preliminary state testing results for Sabina Elementary students from spring 2017. Sabina students performed above the state average in all tested areas except two, she said.

“I feel like we’re going in the right direction,” said Pierson.

One state-testing result made her especially proud, she said. The results from fourth-grade social studies show 97 percent of Sabina Elementary fourth-graders are proficient in that subject.

The Sabina building has an addition to its instructional team this year. This staffer is trained to conduct small-group tutoring for children with dyslexia. The recommended size of a group is three students.

The plan is for this staffer to spend at least 30 minutes five days a week in the dyslexia tutoring, Pierson said.

Magee also spoke about preliminary data from spring 2017 state testing. The superintendent said he sees a lot of progress, including some double-digit gains, though there are “still some areas of course to look at.”

For an example of progress, this year the middle school ranks about sixth among the dozen middle schools located within the Educational Service Center region. Last year, it ranked about 10th, he said.

“I hope this provides some momentum for students and teachers. We have made some gains, but there are bigger ones yet that we need to make,” Magee said.

On another matter, Magee gave the board advance notification of a large future expenditure he believes is looming. The source of water for the middle and high school buildings in Lees Creek — wells — “are getting some age and having some difficulty,” reported Magee. There are a couple different options, he said, but either way involves a big cost.

The school district was recognized by Honor Flight leader Jack Powell during the board meeting. In particular, the Honor Flight program wanted to thank the students who wrote letters to the Honor Flight veterans, as well as show appreciation to the two elementaries’ Kids Care Club which reportedly raised $1,000 for the project.

In personnel action taken by the school board, there was one decision that was not unanimous. In a 4-1 roll call vote, board member Shane Walterhouse voted against awarding a contract to Tony Berlin to serve as varsity boys basketball coach for 2017-18, while the other four board members were in favor.

Walterhouse declined to give a reason for his vote when asked by board President Linda Compton.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

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In a lighter moment, East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee, in background, gives his report to the school board. On the right are board members Greg Bronner and Tim Starkey, mostly hidden.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/08/web1_magee_p_f.jpgIn a lighter moment, East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee, in background, gives his report to the school board. On the right are board members Greg Bronner and Tim Starkey, mostly hidden. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Honor Flight leader Jack Powell, left, presents a plaque of appreciation for East Clinton’s contributions to the two successful flights. Board of Education President Linda Compton accepts the plaque on behalf of the schools.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/08/web1_plaque_ec_p_f.jpgHonor Flight leader Jack Powell, left, presents a plaque of appreciation for East Clinton’s contributions to the two successful flights. Board of Education President Linda Compton accepts the plaque on behalf of the schools. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Sabina Elementary School Principal Jennie Pierson talks about preliminary state testing results from spring 2017.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/08/web1_elem_p_f.jpgSabina Elementary School Principal Jennie Pierson talks about preliminary state testing results from spring 2017. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal
Not enough subs for extra-curriculars

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com