At the Aug. 21 Brookfield Board of Education meeting, new Superintendent Toby Gibson talked about some of the things he has been working on since he officially started the job on Aug. 1.
Keeping the status quo was not one of them.
Here are some highlights:
Developing a preschool program.
“Over half of our students that come in lack preschool,” he said. “As we talk about state tests and report card and those things, I think the district establishing our own preschool is gonna benefit us long term.”
“Our ability to move kids one year has been good,” he said. “We’ve been As and Bs. We’re struggling with our indicators, where students should be at that grade level, and I think that lack of preschool experience early in life, we’re starting off kind of behind the eight ball there.”
Gibson said middle school Principal Craig Boles will set up a meeting with his old boss, the superintendent of Crestwood schools, which established a preschool about four years ago, and school board member Tim Filipovich suggested talking with Youngstown schools, which also has an active preschool program.
In addition to that, kindergarten teacher Sherry Ondo is heading an effort to reach out to preschools that now serve Brookfield children to make sure the preschools have district support in preparing students for kindergarten.
Public relations
The district over the summer hired Trumbull County Educational Services Center. “They’ve helped us streamline our social media so we have one brand,” Gibson said. There are no longer individual school social media accounts, only district accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the goal in using them is to “share the great work our staff and students are doing on a daily basis.”
More press releases will be issued to try and generate more stories from local newspapers, he said.
The center also is helping with the effort to promote a permanent improvement levy that will be on the November ballot, which has so far resulted in the creation of a question-and-answer page on the district web site and a video for social media.
Coordination with Brookfield police and fire departments
Gibson said he met with the police and fire chiefs “just to talk about the district and the relationship we can kind of reestablish with them. The end of last year, the biggest thing we heard as a district was a lack of communication.”
The police department has been given an office in the middle school for school liaison Cpl. Ron Mann to work from during the day, and the police and fire departments will be included in emails from building principals about upcoming events.
Mann is not assigned to the school full time, but the school and police department also are looking for funding to place a policeman – who would be dubbed a school resource officer – full time in the school, Gibson said.
Entrepreneurship Academy at LindenPointe, Hermitage
This is a half-day program that introduces seniors to skills they would need to run a business. Students create a business plan and a product and end the year by pitching their plan to business professionals, with the winners receiving cash prizes.
promoSeveral schools in Mercer and Lawrence counties now participate, and students receive six semester hours from Penn State. The goal is to have two to five Brookfield students attend the academy starting next school year, Gibson said.
Yet to be worked out is whether Ohio students would be allowed to cross the line into Pennsylvania for schooling, and whether Ohio would allow the students to receive credit from a Pennsylvania program.
There would be a district cost of about $1,500 a student, and officials would seek ways to find scholarships for Brookfield students.
Board member Tim Filipovich was very worried about getting approvals from Ohio and Pennsylvania in light of the effort it took to locate the former Brookfield Elementary School in Sharon, but supported the effort to try to get Brookfield students involved in the program.
“Not all students are going to go to college to make a living, so it opens up another door for some kids that lean that way,” Filipovich said.