M-U BOE OKs ‘climate’ survey

WEST MILTON — On Tuesday, the Milton-Union Board of Education reviewed a draft of a survey for its staff to provide the board feedback regarding the district’s “climate.”

The board reviewed the draft copy of the surveys, one for certified staff and one for classified staff. Superintendent Brad Ritchey emphasized he would not have access to survey answers or narratives from the survey and all responses will be anonymous and reviewed by the board.

Ritchey said the only identifying information the survey has is that results will be complied by building for certified staff and job area for classified staff.

A generic link would be emailed to staff to eliminate the ability to track users’ submissions. The link can be entered on any computer, inside or outside the district, which does open the survey to the risk of being shared outside of staff members. Mick Nealey, director of technology, said it would be apparent to the board fairly quickly if the school employs 200 staff members and then received 700 responses, but in the interest in anonymity, the generic link was the best option over a paper survey.

“Our intent in doing this is to try to get the pulse of the school, to get an idea of what the staff is thinking and make some judgment. We’ll review the results and see what happens and try to address issues that are prevalent and go from there,” said president Doug Thompson. “It’s a piece to a puzzle we are trying to figure out and hopefully it gives us some good ammunition to help the school make some good decisions.”

Thompson said he would draft a letter to staff to address concerns along with the link to the survey.

At the end of the meeting, an attendee asked if the results of the survey would be shared during a meeting for parents and the community to see or if it would be internal for the board only.

Thompson said, “We haven’t discussed this as a board what we are going to release or not, but certainly as things are uncovered we are going to talk about it and make it public … to be determined.”

• At the Feb. 6 special meeting, the board accepted the resignation of high school guidance counselor Paula Shaw. Shaw resigned on Jan. 27. According to the agreement, Shaw requested a leave of absence and is to receive accrued paid sick leave and will continue to receive insurance benefits and retirement contributions through July 31, 2020. She also is entitled to any accrued salary and compensation such as banked summer or “stretch” pay, through July 31. The board also agreed to provide Shaw a neutral letter of reference and Shaw is not to disparage the board, past or present members, or employees through “the dissemination of false or inaccurate information.”

• Ritchey presented the board a draft job description to consider to hiring a behavioral specialist/analyst. Ritchey said the board could add the position using wellness funding from the state to add to staff or the district could hire through either the Miami or Montgomery County Education Service Center. Ritchey said he hoped to create the position for the elementary level to help with students who likely suffer from trauma or have extensive, disrupted behavior issues/disorders that can often cause distractions during classroom instruction.

Ritchey said many districts in urban areas employ behavioral specialists, but added the need is building in districts such as Milton-Union. Discussion from board members and attendees was fielded, and Ritchey siad he would seek data, such as class time devoted to behavioral issues, to present at the next meeting.

• Board member Ben Dehus asked treasurer Kay Altenburger if the district has received any income related to the Stillwater Crossings Development, which broke ground in November. Altenburger said she’d have more information at the next meeting related to that development.

• The district is currently seeking substitute bus drivers. Board member Jessica Brumbaugh said the district currently has one substitute available. Contact the board office for more information.

• The Milton-Union Education Foundation will hold its second annual Spring Sling all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, March 14 at the school’s cafeteria. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. The fundraiser will feature activities for children including several bounce houses and the high school show choir will perform at 11 a.m. Contact the board office for tickets or more information.

Staff responses to be anonymous; viewed only by board

By Melanie Yingst

Miami Valley Today