During the Fairfield Local Board of Education meeting this week, superintendent Tim Dettwiller told The Times-Gazette he presented on students’ first day back at school.
“I was very pleased with our students and staff in regards to the facial covering mandate. Basically every student walking up put them on and had no issues,” Dettwiller said. “Nobody was complaining, nobody argued. We had one boy who started to walk up to the school and didn’t have it on, and he saw everyone else with [their masks] on, and he went back to his vehicle and got his mask.”
Students were able to use three entrances, where they could choose between having their temperatures checked by a staff member with a handheld temperature gauge or a temperature-scanning device.
“We have those scanners at each of those doors, and we have two lines flowing through so we don’t have kids standing in line shoulder-to-shoulder for 10 minutes — they just flow right on through,” Dettwiller said. “The kids want to [use the scanner] instead of having someone do it for them. They kind of walk past the person and have the machine do it.”
Dettwiller added that the district will order additional lunchroom tables for elementary students to allow for more social distancing.
In news from the meeting:
* Fairfield Local will join other Ohio school districts in a class action lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin. Participating in the lawsuit will not cost the district anything, but the lawsuit could help fund additional services for local students.
“The lawsuit basically claims that the Oxycontin pandemic that ravaged the country for a while — we’re now seeing the students come into the schools, and we’re having to provide extra services,” Dettwiller said. “The class action lawsuit is asking Purdue Pharma to pay for those services for kids who have addictions and things like that stemming from their parents being addicted to Oxycontin.”
* The board approved Fairfield’s remote learning plan, which the district must submit to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) in order to offer remote learning in the event the district must close again.
* Fairfield school board members approved a proposal to pay annual supplemental income to five staff members at the middle school and high school who will manage and support the district’s virtual students in addition to their other duties. Each staff member will receive an additional $1,800 for the school year.
As of Tuesday, Dettwiller said 137 Fairfield students, or about 15 percent of the 910 students enrolled throughout the district, are currently enrolled in a virtual option through the school district.
* School board members approved a change in insurance for all staff members that Dettwiller said will be “a pretty significant change.” He said the district will move from traditional insurance to a health reimbursement account with a high deductible plan.
“It’s a big thing for us,” Dettwiller said. “We look to get some pretty substantial savings out of that as we move into the future. With a traditional plan, you have a set premium from your insurance company, but if you raise your deductible, that premium goes down. We’re raising the deductible, and we take the savings from premium and fund the health reimbursement account.”
A committee comprising board administration and staff members researched the plans.
* The board granted temporary approval of a new teacher-evaluation policy for staff members.
Traditionally, Dettwiller said the district evaluates all Fairfield teachers each year, but the new policy states that teachers who are ranked “accomplished,” the highest ranking in the evaluation model, will be evaluated every three years instead.
In the ODE’s teacher evaluation model, evaluators rank teachers “ineffective,” “developing,” “skilled,” or “accomplished” in a variety of areas, which contributes to a holistic rating.
The model no longer includes student data in teacher evaluations.
“We wanted to motivate them to stay accomplished, and the board agreed that we’ll put them on a three-year cycle,” Dettwiller said. “Every three years, an accomplished teacher will receive a full evaluation, which includes both informal and formal observations, conferences with the principal and things like that. In the interim years, they would still have the observations completed and they’d still have a professional growth plan, so it’s not like they’re just told, ‘Hey, good luck’ — we still work with them throughout.”
* The district hired two new staff members: a counselor and a custodian.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.