Nancy Ruth and Karen Merrin Swope of CSE Ohio made a presentation to the board about a free school improvement program called Making Middle Grades Work, which the Barnesville Middle School plans to implement next school year. Making Middle Grades Work is a component of High Schools That Work and is an initiative of the Southern Regional Education Board. It is the nation's largest high school improvement initiative with a network of over 1,200 schools in 30 states. There are over 133 sites in Ohio. The Middle Grades program is a network of 350 middle grades sites with 16 state offices and over 90 Ohio sites.

Superintendent Angie Hannahs said BMS has been a exploratory school with the program for two years and would now like to become a Making Middle Grades Work school, which requires the adoption of a board resolution.

Ruth, who is based in Washington County, has been the representative at BMS for the past two years. Swope, who has worked with the district on their Ohio Improvement Process, will now be the school's representative. According to Ruth and Swope, the program, which is funded by the state legislature through the Ohio Department of Education's Career Tech section, provides the framework for school improvement, is based on key practices and key conditions, and is organized around leadership and focus teams.

"The legislature has seen the positive work we have done in schools around the state and so they actually provide funds for us to work," Ruth said.

Ruth said the program is voluntary which is how it differs from the OIP and is based on a common model of school improvement. The program provides support to member schools through small, professional development grades each year which can be used to help teachers with the improvement process.

"The idea is that teachers are empowered to work together to make changes," Ruth said. "I think we all know that in schools, as in any where else, that when people are mandated to do something it is a lot harder to get their cooperation. When you give them some choic;,when you give them the ability to make some decisions and to have ownership of the process, you get a lot better results. And that's what Making Middle Grades Work and High Schools That Work are all about."

Swope said the program allows educators to "do a deeper dive into the work they are already doing" in regard to their district improvement plan. She said the program offers many opportunities for networking within the district and beyond. Swope noted that the district had received a Momentum Award and said that the program would assist the middle school in continuing that progress.

Ruth said the program makes recommendations, but does not require that any specific initiatives be put in place. She talked about the mini grants that are available and how they have been used in other schools. Ruth said BMS teachers have also attended the program's state conference for the past two years, and said professional development was a large component of the MMGW.

Ruth, who was the site coordinator at the school where she taught high school science for 37 years, said that allowing teachers to have input directly impacts improvement and said that school improvement is a continuous process. For more information, visit their website at www.ohiostw.org.

"As I understand it there is no cost to this board. Our staff embraces it. Our administration embraces it and the kids improve, so it's a win-win situation," said board president Robert Miller.

Following the presentation, the board adopted a resolution in support of Making Middle Grades Work.

Ladies representing the Barnesville High School Class of 1967, including Margy Brown, Jane Hall, Anita Rogers, and Becky Wehr, approached the board with an idea to purchase a "Buddy Bench" on behalf of the class for the Barnesville Elementary School playground.

Brown said the class is having a reunion this summer and would like to give a gift to the school.

"A Buddy Bench sits on your playground at the elementary school, and if a child is feeling left out, they can go sit on the bench and when another student sees them they can just go and invite them to play," Brown said noting that the school administration would need to explain the proper use of the bench to the students.

Brown said that she had spoken to teachers at other schools who had said the bench was valuable and served as an icebreaker for shy students. Hall said the idea came from a first grade student in Pennsylvania who had seen that schools in Germany used the benches. She said the bench, sometimes called a "friendship" bench, eliminates loneliness, fosters friendship on the playground and spreads the message of inclusiveness. She said it should be installed in a visible location on the playground. The bench the class had in mind to purchase has a 50-year warranty.

"It sounds like a win-win, doesn't it," Hall said.

"I think this is a good thing and we appreciate your class wanting to do this," Miller said. He recommended that BES Principal Clint Abbott and Maintenance and Transportation Director John Blattler look into the safety, construction and possible location of the bench.

The board discussed a recent buildings/grounds committee meeting and an athletic council meeting. Athletic Director Mark Cook said he was to have three quotes ready for the March meeting per Superintendent Hannahs for the high school track.

Middle School Principal Julie Erwin reported that the robotics team was competing at the state level this month and that five wrestlers from the school are also competing at the state level in March.

The board went into executive session to consider employment: preparing for, conducting or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees concerning their compensation or other terms and conditions of their employment; and matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or regulations or state statutes.

The board accepted the resignation of Matt Johnson as Head Football Coach for the 2017-2018 school year. (See article on page B1).

The board issued the following a certified limited, one year contract to Lauren Boger as high school math teacher beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, pending all required paperwork is completed and on file.

Heidi Fisher was approved as an academic tutor for a homebound high school student and for a homebound, special needs high school student, both for the 2016-2017 school pending all required paperwork is completed and on file.

Jeanne Strawn was approved as an academic tutor for a homebound, special needs middle school student for the 2016-2017 school year pending all required paperwork is completed and on file.

The board approved the following volunteers for the 2016-2017 school year pending all required paperwork is completed and on file: Bryce Allen and Shane Crosier, volunteer assistant baseball coaches and Lori Miller and Wesley Lewis, volunteer assistant track coaches.

The board approved Sharon Yoss and Jenny MacMillan Scott as substitute teachers, and approved the following classified substitutes for the 2016-2017 school year: Scott Willison, David Groves, and Robert Stiver, substitute custodians; Jason Lishman, substitute bus driver; Shawnna Powers, substitute aide, cook, and secretary.

The board accepted the resignation of Corina Rushin Logan as High School Custodian effective December 6, 2016.

The board approved the 2017 After-Prom to be held at Barnesville High School on Saturday, April 29, 2017. All supervised activities have been planned and organized by the Barnesville Mother's Club.

The board approved the following donations for the month of January: Barnesville Vision Center, $25 to the 3rd Grade Field Trip, and VFW of Ohio Charities Post 2792, $2,000 to the high school Washington D.C. Trip.

The board approve a one year contract with Ohio Auditor of State-Local Government Services Division for the 2017 GAAP Report.

The board approve purchase order #51236 in the amount of $59,377.31 to the Village of Barnesville for school resource officer services and a corresponding "Then & Now" Certificate, and a "Then & Now" Certificate for purchase order #51353 rendered to the Village of Barnesville in the amount of $3,507.27 for resource officer services for January 2017.

The board approved a contract between the Barnesville Board of Education and the Pepsi Beverages Company effective January 31, 2017 through February 1, 2018.

The board adopted the following enclosed resolutions:JGD - Student Suspension and JGE - Student Expulsion, and the enclosed amended resolutions: AA School District Legal Status; AFC-1-Evaluation of Professional Staff; GCN-1 -Evaluation of Professional Staff; EFG - Student Wellness Program; EBCD - Emergency Closings; IGCH-R - College Credit Plus; LEC-R - College Credit Plus; IGD - Cocurricular and Extracurricular Activities; IGDJ - Interscholastic Athletics; IKF - Graduation Requirements; JEDA - Truancy; JED - Student Absences and Excuses; JED-R - Student Absences and Excuses.

A public hearing regarding the potential 2017-2018 school calendar was held. The March school board meeting was set for Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m. in the middle school cafetorium.