Local control of schools also major point of discussion

Last updated: August 12. 2014 8:29AM - 292 Views
By - dwacker@civitasmedia.com

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VANDALIA - Decreasing local control of schools and Ohio’s new graduation standards were among the items discussed at Monday’s Board of Education work session.

Chad Hill, Principal of Butler High School, said the new graduation standards apply to this year’s incoming freshmen, or the Class of 2018, going forward. Those students will no longer be required to pass the Ohio Graduation Test, or OGT.

However, sophomores, juniors, and seniors will still need to pass the OGT before it is phased out.

Students will still be required to earn 22 credits - two more than the state required 20 - to graduate from Butler.

What is new are the end of course exams in Algebra I, Geometry, a Physical Science, American History, American Government, English I and English II. Students must earn a cumulative passing score in those seven exams, yet what constitutes passing hasn’t yet been established.

“There are major questions unanswered here,” said Hill.

In lieu of passing the end of course exams, students can also graduation by earning a “remediation free” score on a college admission test such as the ACT or SAT. What is deemed “remediation free” has also not been set.

However, the state will pay for all juniors to take the exam free of charge.

Finally, a third path to graduation would be for a student to earn a State Board of Education-approved, and industry recognized credential or state-issued license for practice in a career with a score that demonstrates workforce readiness and employability. This would likely be through programs at schools such as the Miami Valley Career Technology Center.

“We aren’t sure when the standards will be set,” said Hill. Superintendent Bradley Neavin said that the items are on the agenda for the State Board of Education, but they take multiple readings and votes to be approved.

Local control of schools discussed

Another hot topic during the meeting was the decline in local control of schools. Corky O’Callaghan, a consultant who helped the Vandalia-Butler district pass a levy last year, is writing a book on the subject of local control and says schools are at a turning point.

“Kids are being over tested, teachers are being overwhelmed, and money is going to places we don’t know,” said O’Callaghan. “This isn’t just just in Ohio - the story is pretty much the same everywhere I go.”

O’Callaghan called education reform a “political football” for politicians of both parties with legislators having the last word.

“Legislators have the last word on education now, but parents need to have the first word. Right now they have no word.”

O’Callaghan said that approaching legislators with anger and hostility won’t allow changes to be made.

“If we create the right environment where it isn’t hostile, people will come together and step up to fix things,” he said. “Education reform needs to have some sanity to it.”

Board member Mary Kilsheimer agreed.

“We continue to lose more and more of our local control,” said Kilsheimer. “I think the time is ripe for getting parents and the community involved in this discussion. Parents are at a point where they are asking what to do.”

George Moorman said that slipping local control was one of the reason he decided to run for the Board of Education.

“I got involved in running for school board because I felt a need to keep local control,” said Moorman. “It’s ours to give up, and we haven’t lost it yet, but it’s going that way.”

Possible sale of Murlin Heights property

Neavin put before the Board for them to consider what to do with the Murlin Heights property on S. Dixie Drive. That school was closed after last year as part of a consolidation plan.

“When I came into the district there was an understanding that we would sell Murlin,” said Neavin. “If the Board wants to sell the property, I would urge the Board to pass a formal resolution declaring it surplus.”

According to an appraisal of the property done in 2013, the property has a value of around $850,000 if the school building is left intact, and around $1.3 million if the building is demolished. Estimates for the asbestos abatement and demolition are around $300,000.

No decision was made on the property, and further discussion will take place at an upcoming Board retreat.

In other action, the Board made several personnel changes, including accepting the resignation of Connie Strehle. Brian Tregoning was moved from an assistant principal to principal, and Ryan Rogers moved from part time assistant principal/athletic director to a full time assistant principal. Former Athletic Director Roger Bowen was hired for that same position on an interim basis through December 31.

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