Are students falling behind? Two East Clinton principals weigh in on the worry


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



East Clinton High School Principal Michael Adams updates the school board.

East Clinton High School Principal Michael Adams updates the school board.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

From left, Beth Ellis and Cynthia Rack say there are problems with the online instructional platform that some East Clinton students are using full-time during the first semester as an alternative to in-person education.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

NEW VIENNA — An East Clinton school board member asked how far behind are students, and the host principal for the board meeting held at New Vienna Elementary gave a detailed and largely hopeful answer.

“The vast majority of our kids are little, resilient, super-absorbing sponges, and will take information and skills at the rate that we throw it at them, and come back hungry for more,” NV Elementary School Principal Jason Jones began.

Accordingly, the biggest focus in the building are those children who don’t fall into that category, he said.

“They learned the vowels, they learned the consonants, they learned the letters, and they learned the blends the first three quarters last year, but they didn’t get to put it all together and learn how to read,” said Jones, referring to the closure of schools in mid-March due to the pandemic.

“So, those kids who need that piece by piece by piece, that very mechanical instruction, that’s where we’re kind of seeing the little bits of delay,” the principal continued.

“We’ll give the kids what they need at the rate they can take it, mindful that families are concerned and the anxiety level is high. But we’re going to be okay,” said Jones.

He added, “We’re not going to be fixed and caught up by the end of the year. We may be dipping into the multiple years before we catch everybody up.”

Jones ended on a positive note.

“But our kids are doing great. And our kids are doing great because our staff is absolutely killing it. I’ve never been more proud of the group of people here. We’re going to be okay,” he said.

East Clinton High School Principal Michael Adams was present for the board session, too. For him, the answer is two-fold, he said.

There is a loss of some of those added, enrichment pieces, he said.

“To answer ‘Are we behind?’; not necessarily. But are we getting the same things that we have in the past? No,” said Adams.

During public participation, three parents expressed dissatisfaction with the online platform Edgenuity that’s being utilized by students who are doing full-time virtual education during the first semester, an option provided because of COVID-19.

The families said there are major problems with the EC Virtual Learning Academy through Edgenuity.

EC Superintendent Eric Magee said administrators will look into some things the parents presented and see where they can go with that.

In Magee’s report to the board Tuesday night, he said as of Tuesday morning 32 students and two staff members were under quarantine.

“The time we did have out of the buildings, it did appear to slow the [virus] spread. Certainly it helped with those quarantine numbers, dropping it from that [earlier] 124 to the low 30s at this point,” said Magee.

In a written report prepared for the board by Sabina Elementary Principal Matt Willian, he wrote regarding the Elementary EC Virtual Learning Academy: “It took a while, but our virtual families have also become accustomed to our virtual program. We knew it was going to be difficult to start the program, and our virtual teachers have done an incredible job of not only facilitating those classes, but also partnering with parents.”

Willian added, “One concern that we have with this [virtual] program is a portion of our students are still not adequately participating.”

EC Treasurer John B. Stanley presented a five-year financial forecast for the school district. In fiscal year (FY) 2021 a revenue shortfall is expected. Expenditures are expected to be greater than revenue by $1,307,577 in FY 2021.

The district’s cash balance is forecast to be positive at year‐end of FY 2021, but is projected to worsen by FY 2025.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

East Clinton High School Principal Michael Adams updates the school board.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_adams.jpgEast Clinton High School Principal Michael Adams updates the school board. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

From left, Beth Ellis and Cynthia Rack say there are problems with the online instructional platform that some East Clinton students are using full-time during the first semester as an alternative to in-person education.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_two_mothers.jpgFrom left, Beth Ellis and Cynthia Rack say there are problems with the online instructional platform that some East Clinton students are using full-time during the first semester as an alternative to in-person education. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com