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The Edison Local School District is looking to reduce chronic absenteeism and is already seeing some positive results with the addition of a new truancy officer.

  School board members approved the hiring of Anthony Pierro during the Feb. 25 regular meeting but his contract is retroactive to Feb. 1. Superintendent Bill Beattie said Pierro’s presence has already yielded improvements among student attendance and leaders want to maintain the momentum.

   “We’ve been monitoring our chronic absenteeism since the beginning of October and there’s so much responsibility on the principals, guidance counselors and SRO’s, so the board made a commitment to hire someone to handle absenteeism in the district,” Beattie said.

    Funding from a previous wellness grant is helping the district finance the position and the truancy officer will complete the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, while officials also plan to keep him on board for next year. Since Pierro started, there has been a decrease in chronic absenteeism. As part of his job, Pierro meets weekly with principals and contacts at-risk students who fall below the 90-percent absentee rate. When Pierro began, the district reported 231 students were below the 90-percent threshold, but that number had dropped to 201 as of Thursday’s meeting.

   “We run a biweekly EDGE report of kids who are below the 90-percent absentee rate and focus on why they are not attending school, and we are attempting to get the students and families the resources they need to get the students back in school,” Beattie continued. “Our goal is to meet the chronic absenteeism indicator on the report card, which can be met three different ways from the previous year.”

    The truancy officer works hand-in-hand with the district’s ongoing participation in the Proving Ground pilot program with Harvard University. The initiative utilizes the Proving Ground model of evidence-based improvement to address chronic absenteeism, career readiness, and college enrollment. Edison is among 50 rural schools in Ohio and New York that are part of the National Center for Rural Education Research Networks (NCRERN), an initiative of the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard, and the study is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. The district is currently in its second year of a five-year process and Beattie said the current round is focusing on post-secondary and college and career readiness among the high school set.

   “This is another key component [with Proving Ground] and benefits the increase in attendance. It shows a positive effect to what we’re doing.”

   Meanwhile, officials approved a five-year lease agreement with TCF Equipment Finance for the new video board planned at the EHS sports complex. Beattie said the 13-foot-by-24-foot color LED video scoreboard, which is estimated at $183,500, includes a speaker system and sections for rolling and static ads which can be sold to businesses and the community and displayed during home football and soccer games.

   “We secured a five-year lease from TCF to help fund this and we’re moving forward with signing the contract,” he added, saying the district will solicit advertising and use the costs to defray the estimated $36,700 annual payments.

   Beattie added that it also benefits students in the new media and graphics class being developed next fall as a career pathway.

   In other action, the board:

–Approved a $26,000 contract with Vince Zastudil of Toronto for concrete work at the high school sports complex, including trench drains, steps and concrete pads at the track’s finish line;

–Hired Brenda Kmatz as an aide/cook/secretary/NBC/custodian and Jamie Minor as a bus driver on the substitute’s list;

–Approved supplemental contracts at EHS for Jess McCallister, Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), Darlene Mason, mentor; Greg Marsh, junior high track; Anthony Pierro, volunteer football; Anwaa Martin, volunteer track; Byron Bufkin, assistant varsity track; and Scott Day, volunteer band;

–Approved the hiring of Vanessa Scott as a bus driver;

–Accepted the resignation of Shane O’Brien as assistant track coach;

–Accepted the resignation of Diane Wellington, preschool teacher at John Gregg Elementary, for retirement purposes;

–Agreed to extend Family First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) benefits to employees for 90 days retroactive to Jan. 1 and ending March 31. Officials said the resources help teachers so they may work remotely if they are quarantined or in isolation due to COVID-19. The previous plan expired Dec. 31 but the district’s attorney said Edison may implement an extension that would allow teachers to take 10 days or 80 hours of COVID-19 leave time, after which they may use their paid sick leave time if necessary;

–Approved a dual credit Memorandum of Understanding with Eastern Gateway Community College;

–Approved a service agreement with Alisha Waugh for cortical visual impairment (CVI) consultations and evaluations for students;

–Approved the 2021-22 district calendar;

–Approved an addendum to the OMERESA internet service agreement;

–Accepted donations including $4,747 from the Bergholz Community Foundation for hoodies for John Gregg students; $500 from Christ United Methodist Church for student needs at John Gregg; and $683 from Richmond United Methodist Church to purchase a new stove for the Living Skills class at EHS;

–Set the next regular meeting for Tuesday, March 16 at 6 p.m. at EHS.

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