This is the third in a series of articles based on a two-question survey completed by families at the Newcomerstown East, West and Middle schools. The articles purpose is to address the suggestions and statements concerning the second question of the survey. What can we do to improve our schools?

Too much homework -- not enough homework! The survey had many comments on both sides of this issue. In either case, there are always going to be some days worse than others with homework. Depending on how well your student understands the concepts taught that day may determine their frustrations ... and yours! At West School, all students are provided time to complete most of their work while there is a teacher to help. Fourth and Fifth grades, because they are departmentalized like the middle and high schools, have study halls to reduce the amount of homework. Those teachers meet with each other each week to try and coordinate their plans as much as possible. Another aspect of homework is to practice lessons to better acquire the skills (for tests) and teach responsibility for completion and return of the assignment.

The State of Ohio expects our students to learn many skills and concepts, called bench marks and indicators, and they are expected to remember these concepts for a year and test.

The Ohio Academic Content Standards Grade Level Indicators lists:

245 concepts in second grade

250 concepts in third grade

261 concepts in fourth grade

256 concepts in fifth grade

This must be mastered in approximately 160 days. Hard to imagine isn't it? Anyone can get a copy of these on-line from the Ohio Department of Education or West School office.

Another topic that comes up on many surveys is that of too many fundraisers occurring. We agree. Fundraisers are held to raise money for many reasons and by many groups like a class, a building, athletic boosters and teams, charities such as Relay for Life, American Heart Associations, or Cystic Fibrosis or for families in our community going through a crisis or tragedy. All are worthy causes to help; and our student's families, staff and community have always supported every one of them. The support is very much appreciated.

In June, Superintendent Jeff Staggs is scheduling a meeting to create a calendar for next year that pertains to only fundraisers in order to decrease and spread out the number of fundraisers scheduled as well as provide that information ahead to parents and the community.

Anyone is welcome to call us and speak about any of the issues discussed concerning the surveys.