WHEN THE Ohio Department of Education finally released its state report cards recently, the local school districts in the area faired well. Only one failed to reach at least an effective rating.
Six districts earned effective while three, Bellaire and Martins Ferry in Belmont County, and Buckeye Local in Jefferson County, earned excellent ratings.
Bellaire received greater honors in addition to the overall rating as both Bellaire Elementary School and Bellaire Middle School were rated as excellent with distinction for the respective buildings.
"We're pretty excited," Tony Scott, the Bellaire Local Schools Superintendent said. "We hit the excellent mark as a district and the two schools receiving excellent with distinction ... we're real excited about what is taking place here with the kids and it's a credit to the staff.
"Everyone has worked together, pulled together ... it's a credit to all of our employees."
Not lost on Scott was the potential significance of such good news with the fate of the school's next attempt at passage of a levy looming Tuesday.
Repeated attempts to inject some additional fundign into the district have failed. Scott is hoping this time around, that won't be the case. With the district's academic and athletic success on full display this week, Scott believes it proves that what is happening at Bellaire is worth keeping.
"I would hope that people would realize that, with the things we're trying to do fiscally ... be more responsible, along with what we're doing academically, that the people will support their schools.
"Academically, we're doing fine. Financially, we aren't.
"There are programs that we had in place that we don't now and the students need those put back in place."
This is the second of the last three years that Bellaire has earned an excellent rating.
Up north, Martins Ferry has been knocking at the door of an excellent rating for years and has finally been able to push through.
Superintendent Dirk Fitch believes it was a team effort between students, staff and teachers working toward that common goal that finally put the district over the top.
Special attention was given to helping the students improve their extended response and essay questions ... those that require more thought-out responses.
We did research with the ESC that helped us go through past tests and we found wear we were lacking," Fitch said. "We spent a lot of time on it with the teachers and the students and I think it paid off.
"Sometimes, many of the younger students may rush through this portion of the tests and I think we got the students to understand the importance of taking their time, filling it out completely. It helped."
Fitch admitted that, despite the overall district success, the area of math still seems to be a trouble spot for the district.
So his administrative and teaching staffs are wasting little time in getting back to work, finding the deficiencies and working to correct them.
"It's an area of concern and that's always the toughest one," Fitch said. "We'll set our goals there. We did well, but we don't want to backslide either.
"We'll keep working on what we've been doing, keep reinforcing, keep motivatin ... see if we can keep reaching for another goal."
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