New Bloomfield makes strides with discipline

— One year after questioning school officials regarding how discipline issues were affecting student performance, parent Rich Garwood returned to the New Bloomfield School Board to ask what progress has been made in the time since.

Elementary Principal Julie Gerloff said her building is continuing to implement the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) program, designed to positively reinforce the qualities of being safe, kind, respectful and responsible.

“Kids are responding extremely well,” Gerloff said, although the new administrator noted, “I’ve not compared referrals from last year to this year.”

High school/junior high Principal Suzanne Lackman and Vice Principal Susan Dockery said they also have been utilizing PBS. They said this year they also have implemented a new tardy sweep program.

When the bell rings, classroom doors close and all students not in attendance are not allowed into the classrooms until they go to the office, fill out tardy paperwork and are escorted to class by an adult.

“We’ve done a three-week comparison of tardies from last year, and they have been reduced by 37,” Lackman said. “We expect it to drop quite a bit more.”

To further enforce the new tardy policy, repeat offenders are put on escort and are accompanied by an adult between all classes.

Lackman also shared data regarding discipline referrals.

“Our population fluctuates up and down, but total disciplinary actions did go up from 38 to 50,” she said, although she noted the 38 actions involved 28 students and the 50 actions involved 30 students. “So some of our repeat offenders are showing themselves, and we’ve had meetings to discuss what some of the repeat offenses are ... and how we can better attend to that.”

Although the number of referrals went up, Lackman also pointed out that 82.5 percent of students have received no referrals at all, which is above the goal of having 80 percent.

“The senior class has the fewest (referrals) by class, followed closely by ninth grade,” she said.

As far as student performance, another positive statistic at the high school/junior high is that 47 percent of the entire school is on the A/B honor roll, with 66 percent of the senior class having achieved that status.

Interim Superintendent Thomas Baugh also pointed out that attendance at New Bloomfield schools is high so far this year.

“Elementary attendance is excellent. Attendance at the high school — 95, 96 percent — is phenomenal,” Baugh said. “It’s certainly a pleasure from my seat to see so many kids wanting to come to school and parents supporting that.”

School Board member Shawn Cockrum said that “everything in this district is going the right way.”

“Every indicator you can look at shows us improving,” Cockrum said.

“None of us are satisfied with where we’re at, but we’re doing better,” board president Leroy Wade agreed.

Director of Special Services Sara Lane echoed those assessments, directly addressing Garwood’s statements that New Bloomfield appears to be doing worse than other area districts.

“Jefferson City is actually at the same level of school improvement as we are. Last year more than 60 percent of schools (in the state) were in school improvement,” Lane said. “Yes, our scores are low — and we’re not proud of that. But our scores are up, and we are proud of that.”

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