Williamsburg third graders top county

Williamsburg Local School District Superintendent Jeff Weir announced at the Dec. 20 board of education meeting the results of the Ohio Achievement Assessment Test, in the area of reading, that was taken by the third grade classes at Williamsburg Elementary School.

This test is given every year in October to all third grade students in the State Ohio.

“The results of the test were released recently and the performance of our third grade Williamsburg students outpaced all other third grade students in Clermont County,” said Weir. “This year 76.9 percent of our third graders scored proficient or better on the Reading OAA. This is over five percent better than third graders from Goshen, which had the second highest scores.”

According to the rest of the report, Milford’s third graders passed at a 65 percent clip. CNE scored 64.7, Bethel-Tate scored 62.3 percent and New Richmond 60.2 percent. The other three districts had less than 60 percent of their students score proficient or better.

“In addition to these scores, we had more high achieving students than any other district, with 48.9 of our students at either the accelerated or advanced level,” Weir said.

“This is fantastic news and compelling evidence of the high quality of teaching and learning occurring in our early elementary grade levels, kindergarten thru 3rd grade.”

Weir attributes the success of the test to the parents, too, as it is well known, he said, that the teachers can not do it all alone. There has to be a level of dedication and encouragement in the child’s home.

While this report is very good news, Weir brought to light some very positive results over the past few years.

Other news at the Williamsburg School Board meeting included a letter from the Marge and Charles J. Schott Foundation stating the school will be granted $10,000 for educational enrichment.

“We are so very grateful for that donation, especially during the tough economic times. We already have several areas that will benefit from this donation,” Weir said. “Of course we all know how quickly that money will disappear. However, we are very appreciative for the donation.”

In further discussion on the economic impact on the Williamsburg School district and what budget cuts have been made or will be made, Weir says their school district is not able adhere to a strict budget.

“Nobody that I know of in this county is doing OK,” Weir said. “Like everyone else, we have been tightening our belts for the past few years. We use attrition with our staff. When they leave we don’t replace them.”

The discussion at the school board meeting, says Weir, was based on ideas that were solicited from staff on budget cuts and what could be done to further tighten an already stressed budget.

“We sent out a communication to everybody in our employ asking, ‘what ideas do you have?’ We’ve been working on this but we know we have a lot of creative minds out there.”

“The message we want to get out is that: ‘you are the eyes and ears right out there on the front line. What are you seeing that you think we should consider that might help us recover some of what we spend and things that may generate revenue.'”

A few of the suggestions made, but not necessarily applied just yet, were brown out buildings when appropriate, install occupancy sensors in certain rooms to ensure lights are never left on when the room is empty and install hand dryers in restrooms to save on the cost of paper towels.

Another suggestion made was to remove one fluorescent bulb out of every fixture. Just little things like that can add up to savings.

“We have a parent whose husband works for an electric supply company and may be able to get the school district rebates through certain types energy efficient lighting,” Weir said.

There were many suggestions that are still being looked at, including a four day week, and other suggestions that may be considered.

“What the board is doing between now and January is to prioritize the list and scale them, handicap and bring them back to us with recommendations. And also the board told us in explicit terms that we are empowered as we work through this list to identify anything that can be implemented immediately, just do it.”

“Jim Smith (superintendent of Beth-Tate schools) is coordinating a meeting of supervisors from five school districts and we are going to get together to examine what kinds of services and different aspects of our operation we could collectively consolidate.”

Weir says the district is already a little bit ahead of the curve on this idea as they have partnered with Bethel providing gifted services.

According to Weir, working together and partnering with other schools in the county is a very workable and efficient way to help with the budget deficit all schools are struggling with.