By Sheryl Roadcap
For the Daily Call
PIQUA – On Wednesday morning, the Piqua Chamber of Commerce hosted Piqua City School’s annual State of the Schools presentation at the YWCA. The fairly short meeting was conducted by Piqua City School Superintendent Rick Hanes and Board of Education treasurer Jeremie Hittle to give an update on Piqua City Schools’ status and how they are progressing in all aspects from the classroom to the budget.
This gathering of Piqua educators, local business leaders and community members also included guests such as State Senator Bill Beagle, Piqua City Commissioner Judy Terry, Piqua City Manager Gary Huff, Edison Community College President Cris Valdez, Upper Valley Career Center Superintendent Nancy Luce and Piqua BOE President Andy Hite and member Steve Greggerson.
Superintendent Rick Hanes started off the meeting by displaying an outline of and briefly addressing the five main goals of academic performance, the new facility construction, staff, school/community relations, and finances within Piqua Schools. Hanes also introduced board of education members and made a point of recognizing that BOE has been awarded the “Goal Level” for the sixth year by the Ohio School Board Association Southwest Board.
When informing about the quality of staff employed, Hanes noted that 81 percent of the 199 certified staff members hold a master’s degree or higher, and that 23 are designated as “Master Teachers.” He also announced this year’s Teacher of the Year is High Street Elementary School teacher Kim Didier. Didier was a former nurse who returned to college to become a teacher after being inspired by her daughter’s former teacher who had great influence upon Didier’s daughter’s progress in school.
Hanes proudly announced that the Ohio Department of Education has selected Favorite Hill, High Street and Springcreek Primary Schools each as a “School of Promise” in October 2013.
Hanes also discussed options for Piqua High School students, from new courses becoming available to the college bound program, to dual enrollment opportunities available. The college bound program simply allows Piqua High School students to receive feedback from college professors at Edison Community College on their work.
Dual enrollment at Edison or with Ohio Northern University is something that is greatly encouraged for students take advantage of that is free of cost and allows them to obtain college credit while still in high school. As a result of this program that is now in its fourth year, Hanes noted that most graduates go into their freshman year already a semester or two ahead when entering college.
Hanes next gave information on newly added classes, which will revamp the curriculum, like kick-boxing, organic chemistry, hip hop abs, etc., and this was accumulated by polling students, teachers and alumni. These plans of newly offered classes will not affect the budget as they are not adding additional staff. However, PHS is slowly eliminating study halls because the want to keep students in class.
On the technology front, there has been network upgrades and reorganization. The districts network hub was relocated to PHS. Network equipment was upgraded at PHS, PJHS and Washington to support mobile devices. They are going away from computer lap tops and going with mobile technology, like the 385 iPads and 685 Notebook computers that were added.
Hanes explained about the academic partnership between Piqua High School, Miami Valley Career Center and Edison Community College. They meet to discuss how once a student enters the seventh grade, what is the best pathway for him or her, through PHS, MVCC or Edison and afterward. They meet twice a year, and the next meeting is on March 31.
Hanes also gave a review of the district’s current building project - Springcreek, Washington and the new Piqua intermediate building being constructed at the former Piqua Memorial Hospital site. This time next year, educators plan to be in two of the new buildings. Hanes said that the construction plan is still on schedule and on budget despite the harsh winter.
Finally Hanes pointed out the great benefit in Piqua’s athletic venues for providing tournaments and in bringing in thousands of dollars into the community. Last fall alone, PHS provided a venue for five regional football playoff games, with several more various upcoming tournaments in 2014.
Information about all things within the Piqua schools can be found at www.piqua.org, or on twitter @piquacityschool or @raheducation.