Upper Arlington schools
Parent seeks return to phonics-based instruction
An Upper Arlington parent asked the school board Monday to step back from the way it has taught reading for years and return to a phonics-based system.
Speaking at the board's Jan. 14 meeting, Kathryn Smith Ripper said she has dyslexia but learned to deal with it when she attended school in the 1960s and learned to sound out words in a phonics-based language arts curriculum.
She said Upper Arlington schools switched from a phonics-based curriculum to a whole-language curriculum years before her two dyslexic children entered school in 1999.
Ripper said her daughter, who is in college now, struggled in Upper Arlington schools because she has no phonemic awareness, which she defined as the ability to manipulate individual sounds in spoken words.
She said her daughter's dyslexia kept her from perceiving the correct sounds in words, so she had trouble reproducing the sounds or mastering spelling, grammar or punctuation.
Ripper said she hopes the district would consider professional development to help teachers recognize when a child's lack of mastery may be due to dyslexia.
"It is possible for your faculty and staff to begin to question and to ask themselves why children are performing in a certain way today, now, and to closely examine data currently collected for each child in their individual files," she said.
Ripper said the district "took a bold step forward" in adopting AIMSweb as a benchmarking tool, since it would provide teachers with important baseline information about a child's performance.
AIMSweb is a web-based assessment, data management and reporting system designed to provide a framework for response to intervention instruction and measures reading and math performance for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Board members thanked Ripper for her information but otherwise had no response.
Also Jan. 14, the Upper Arlington Board of Education elected new leaders and announced changes in tuition rates at Burbank Early Childhood School.
Robert Arkin was elected president of the school board and Stacey Royer was elected vice president. Last year's president, Robin Comfort, was out of town and did not attend. Other members present were Nancy Drees and Marjory Pizzuti.
"I want to thank Robin for her leadership over the past year," Pizzuti said. "Being a school board president is a lot more work than you could imagine."
Superintendent Jeffrey Weaver said January is National School Board Recognition Month. He presented board members with a framed graphic of a circle of hands with their names printed on the graphic.
"We want to thank the school board for their selfless duty in representing our community and all they do for our children," he said.
Committee representatives also were appointed: Chris Potts, director of business, was appointed delegate for the Metropolitan Educational Council, with Arkin as alternate; Pizzuti was appointed legislative liaison to work with the Ohio School Boards Association; Comfort will be the board representative working with the Upper Arlington Education Foundation; Drees will work with the Business Advisory Council; Arkin and Royer will work with the city on economic development; and Royer will represent the school board with the PTO Presidents Council.
Treasurer Andy Geistfeld said tuition at the Burbank Early Childhood Center increased by 1 percent for 2013, while the district's School After Child Care tuition rates stayed the same for the third year in a row.
Rates at Burbank range from part-day summer preschool at $295 per session if parents choose three sessions, for Upper Arlington residents, to $907 per session for a full day of summer preschool.
Full school year rates at Burbank depend on how many preschool days are desired per week and how many hours.
More information is available at uaschools.org; click on the "parent and community" link to find the "Burbank" link.
The next school board meeting will start at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Central Office, 1950 North Mallway Drive.