Education Briefs

Staff Reports

Annual Online Learning Day group picture.

Annual Online Learning Day group picture.

East Knox Local School District Released from Fiscal Emergency

Columbus – Auditor of State Dave Yost today (March 7) released the East Knox Local School District (Knox County) from fiscal emergency, a status it held for more than two years.

The district spent a combined four and a half years shifting between fiscal caution, watch and emergency because of deficit fund balances and a failure to adopt and submit an acceptable financial recovery plan.

“Today, the district and its community can breathe a sigh of fiscal relief,” Auditor Yost said. “The decisions were not easy, but they were vital to the financial upswing the district is now experiencing.”

The district, which enrolls roughly 1,230 students, erased a projected $3.3 million deficit, in part, by reducing staff by 27 employees for approximately $1.5 million in annual savings. Also, the district is saving $144,000 each year from the closure of Bladensburg Elementary School, in addition to $19,000 by charging lunchroom utility costs to the food service fund instead of the general fund.

During the current fiscal year, the district will begin realizing added revenue from a 10-year, $1.2 million annual emergency levy passed on Nov. 8, 2016. The district also implemented a “pay to participate” fee for athletics, increasing revenue in the general fund by $50,000 each year. The fee will be phased out in fiscal year 2018.

Additionally, the district had to satisfy the following requirements to be terminated from fiscal emergency:

  • Effectively implement a financial accounting and reporting system in accordance with Section 118.10(A) of the Ohio Revised Code;
  • Correct or eliminate all fiscal emergency conditions and prevent new ones from occurring;
  • Meet the objectives of the financial plan; and
  • Prepare a five-year forecast in accordance with standards issued by the Auditor of State; the opinion expressed by the Auditor’s office is “nonadverse.”

The Ohio Department of Education placed the district in fiscal caution on Sept. 4, 2012 due to deficit fund balances. Auditor Yost declared the district in fiscal watch on Sept. 30, 2014 before elevating its status to fiscal emergency on Feb. 5, 2015 after it failed to adopt and submit an acceptable financial recovery plan.

Public eSchool Families Gather For Event in Support of Educational Choice

COLUMBUS – The Ohio eSchool Families & Friends Coalition, a non-profit school choice advocacy organization, and Ohio Alliance for Public School Options recently hosted the annual Online Learning Day. Families from across Ohio ventured to the historic Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to hear great speakers and alumni of public eSchools. They were also given the chance to connect with one another, participate in educational activities provided by Ohio eSchools and write letters to their local legislators. Many also got the chance to meet one-on-one with their legislator(s).

Rep. Andrew Brenner attended the event and met with families from the area.

“We recently met with Rep. Brenner to present him with this year’s Ohio eSchool Coalition Golden Apple Award are were so excited to meet up with him again,” said Mrs. Dutcher of Delaware. “We appreciate that Rep. Brenner has listened to our personal story of why we choose to eSchool our daughter and feel he is on board with trusting parents to make educational decisions for our children. We are so thankful for his leadership and the time he has taken to meet with us on these occasions.”

“Congratulations go out to Rep. Brenner for receiving this year’s Golden Apple Award,” said Sara Donlon, president of the Ohio eSchool Coalition. “He’s a true champion for the school choice and eSchooling movements. We’re so grateful for his support and are thrilled to have had him attend Online Learning Day. The many interactions he’s had with eSchool families have helped him understand that parents know what’s best for each of their children. It’s imperative that parents are trusted to make the best educational decisions for their family.”

Online Learning Day is in its second year in Ohio. Each time, families have come to Columbus to support the online schooling movement and school choice and to promote the fact that parents should be the ones making any and all educational decisions for their children. #ITRUSTPARENTS

The Ohio eSchool Families and Friends Coalition is a non-profit organization representing students, parents, teachers and others who believe in empowering families to enroll their kids in these innovative public schools. Our organization seeks to be a broad based group of stakeholders, including families, so that we ALL will have a voice in the public policy debates over critical school choice issues that will impact Ohio’s future, especially during challenging times.

For more information on the Ohio eSchool Families & Friends Coalition visit our website at

For Statehood Day, Attorney General DeWine Reminds Schools about Ohio Government Videos

COLUMBUS —In recognition of Ohio Statehood Day (March 1), Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today reminded government classes about a series of five educational videos the Ohio Attorney General’s Office developed for students. The videos cover topics including the history of Ohio’s two constitutions, the different branches of Ohio government, and communicating with elected officials.

“Statehood Day provides an opportunity to reflect upon the rich history of our great state of Ohio and to get people thinking about how they can get involved,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We created these videos to enhance students’ knowledge of government in Ohio and to encourage their participation and civic engagement.”

The topics for the videos were identified by a panel of Ohio high school teachers, and they align with state standards. They are: Ohio Constitution; State Public Policy; Citizenry; Bill of Rights; United States Constitution.

The videos were produced by Attorney General DeWine’s office with the help of current and former state officeholders, including appearances by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith L. French, State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights), State Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), State Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), State Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), and former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

The videos are available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website at Schools also may request to receive the videos via email or as a DVD by completing the form available on the page.

News from Capital University

Capital University Announces President’s List Honorees for Fall 2016

BEXLEY, OH (02/16/2017)— Capital University is pleased to announce its President’s List honorees for the Fall 2016 semester: Katlynn Bell of Westerville; Hannah Dieker of Westerville; Hudson Haley of Westerville; Caroline Hennebert of Galena; Jessica Kim of Westerville; Molly Miller of Westerville; Emily Pawlack of Westerville; Jacob Pulliam of Westerville; Ann Redman of Westerville; Jacob Williams of Westerville.

Capital has three lists denoting academic distinction among full-time, degree-seeking students: the President’s List, Provost’s List, and Dean’s List. The President’s List indicates the highest level of academic distinction. To be named to the President’s List, students must have achieved a grade point average of at least 3.85.

Located in the Columbus, Ohio, neighborhood of Bexley, Capital University is a private, four-year undergraduate institution and graduate school. Capital prepares students for meaningful lives and purposeful careers through a relevant liberal arts core curriculum and deep professional programs. Influenced by its Lutheran heritage, Capital places great emphasis on the free and open exchange of ideas, seeking out diverse perspectives, active participation in society, leadership and service. With a focus on rigor and experiential learning, the University capitalizes on its size, location, and heritage to develop the whole person, both inside and outside the classroom.

Ohio’s top youth volunteers of 2017 named by Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honors Cincinnati and Columbus students with $1,000, medallions and trip to nation’s capital

Finalists also named in Liberty Township, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dublin, Wyoming, Mason and Strongsville

COLUMBUS – Adam Sella, 17, of Cincinnati and Mackenzie Lewis, 10, of Columbus today (Feb. 7) were named Ohio’s top two youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Adam and Mackenzie each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2017.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

These are Ohio’s top youth volunteers of 2017:

High School State Honoree: Adam Sella

Nominated by Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati

Adam, a senior at Walnut Hills High School, founded a club at his school to aid refugees in the Cincinnati area and raise awareness of the world’s growing refugee crisis through projects that include collection drives, a tutoring program, and events to fund college scholarships. After spending six weeks in Morocco studying Arabic, Adam returned home just as the Syrian refugee crisis was unfolding. Adam said he could easily relate to the plight of these refugees because he is Jewish and had relatives who were displaced after World War II. Seeking to help, he immediately contacted a local mosque and refugee resettlement agencies. “I thought my Arabic language skills made me uniquely well-suited to aid refugees, so I was surprised and disappointed when they told me I was too young or that someone would get back to me – but nobody did,” Adam said.

Not to be deterred, Adam founded his club, “Students Together Assisting Refugees” (STAR). He and fellow club members invited two Bhutanese refugees to share their heart-wrenching stories at a school assembly, organized a public screening of a movie about Sudanese refugees to raise money for refugee scholarships, conducted a community drive that collected 750 household items for 266 refugee families, and began tutoring refugee children at a local elementary school. Adam also created a website and used media interviews to gain more visibility. His club’s biggest project so far was last fall’s benefit chamber concert that featured members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and raised more than $5,000 in scholarship funds. Adam’s efforts have inspired students in six other states to start STAR chapters in their communities.

Middle Level State Honoree: Mackenzie Lewis

Nominated by Berwick Alternative K-8 School in Columbus

Mackenzie, a fifth-grader at Berwick Alternative K-8 School, conducted two community drives that collected 1,350 cases of bottled water and more than 300 gallon water jugs for people dealing with unsafe tap water in Flint, Michigan. After hearing news stories about Flint’s contaminated water supply, Mackenzie felt she had to do something to help. “I wanted people in Flint to have clean water,” she said. “It wasn’t fair that their water makes them sick and gives them rashes.”

After obtaining permission to store water at her church, Mackenzie challenged members of the church and other churches to contribute. She made fliers and dropped them around town, and began contacting individuals and businesses for donations. After Mackenzie collected 1,200 cases of bottled water and 300 gallon jugs, she and 12 other youth volunteers from her church rode in a donated truck to Flint, where they handed out water at a church and gave the rest to a school and after-school program. Mackenzie then asked kids at several summer youth programs and camps to bring water donations to an advocacy festival that she organized, which featured music, food, games, prizes and a raffle. Afterwards, Mackenzie made another trip to Flint, delivering 150 additional cases of water and 20 jugs to residents of two apartment complexes.

Distinguished Finalists

The program judges also recognized eight other Ohio students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Ohio’s Distinguished Finalists for 2017:

Erinn Aulfinger, 18, of Liberty Township, Ohio, a member of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio and a senior at Lakota East High School, created a self-help book geared toward improving the self-esteem of girls entering middle school. Erinn, whose yearlong effort included raising $5,000 for publishing costs and contacting more than 1,000 people and organizations for research, has secured permission from principals to distribute the book to the more than 600 sixth-grade girls in her school district.

Milan Bhandari, 17, of Cincinnati, Ohio, a senior at Indian Hill High School, created “FixN’Give,” a nonprofit that, by collecting and refurbishing old computers, has helped more than 250 kids in need stay current with educational trends. Inspired by his experience tutoring Bhutanese refugee children who loved his laptop, Milan raised $14,000 for his endeavor by organizing an entrepreneurship and technology symposium with the help of 30 volunteers.

Lily Kwiatkowski, 16, of Cleveland, Ohio, a sophomore at Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, is a leader and advocate with The Environmental Heroes, an after-school program through which she and other students are investigating factors that impact wildlife in the West Creek Reservation. Lily, who joined the program in 2012, plans weekly objectives, leads peers in their field studies, prepares position statements and mentors new recruits.

Matthew Oh, 16, of Dublin, Ohio, a sophomore at Dublin Jerome High School, founded “New Kicks for Kids,” a nonprofit that has raised more than $3,100 since January 2015 to provide shoes and other essentials to children in need in central Ohio. Matthew, who was moved to help by the warm reaction his church orchestra received while performing at a soup kitchen, is also working to raise awareness of homelessness.

Vishnu Paranandi, 17, of Wyoming, Ohio, a senior at Wyoming High School, has been volunteering with his city’s technology-help-for-seniors program since he was a freshman and, since becoming its first student president the following year, has coordinated all aspects of the program from scheduling to advertising. Under Vishnu’s leadership, the program has expanded its number of sessions and improved efficiency by implementing an online participant sign-up system.

Taylor Powers, 17, of Cincinnati, Ohio, a member of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio and a senior at Ursuline Academy, works with children at a homeless shelter once a week to nurture a love of reading through arts and crafts and other fun activities. Taylor researched the literacy gap between children living above and below the poverty line, conducted interviews to learn more about how she could help, and is now working to ensure her project can continue after she graduates.

Ananya Tawde, 17, of Mason, Ohio, a senior at William Mason High School, has raised $2,500 to benefit kids with heart disease by taking custom orders for paintings, offering art lessons and hosting parties through a nonprofit she founded called “Art for the Heart.” As an artist and aspiring cardiologist, Ananya was inspired to pair her passions to raise money for research into cardiovascular diseases that affect kids and for Camp Joyful Hearts, a program for children with heart conditions.

Madison Wagner, 16, of Strongsville, Ohio, a sophomore at Gilmour Academy, has led other students in a variety of projects to help the community through the “Make a Difference (M.A.D.) Club” she started when she was 13 at her elementary school, and later launched at her high school. Inspired to make a difference with her life after facing cancer as a young child, Madison’s clubs have hosted toiletry and clothing collections, prepared and delivered meals, farmed fresh produce for the hungry, and more.

“Prudential is honored to recognize these young volunteers for their exemplary service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope that their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can volunteer their time and talents to improve their communities.”

“These service-minded young people have brought meaningful change to communities at home and abroad, and it’s a privilege to celebrate their work,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “Congratulations to an exceptional group of middle level and high school students.”

About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.

While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On May 8, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2017. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

Since the program began in 1995, more than 115,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, China and Brazil. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees.

For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit or


The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit

Varsity Brands Announces Most Spirited High School Staff Member Finalists

Teachers, Coaches and Guidance Counselors Acknowledged in Staff Awards Categories;

Winners to Be Announced at Awards Ceremony in May

MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 2, 2017 – The Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards, presented by Varsity Spirit, Herff Jones and BSN SPORTS, has announced the finalists from 45 states in its 2017 School Spirit Awards Staff category. Awards include Legacy Coaching Award, Outstanding Athletic Director Award, Top-Notch Teacher Award, Top Athletic Trainer Award, Star Staff Member Award and Greatest Guidance Counselor Award.

The second annual Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards celebrates the very best of America’s high schools with 23 categories and over $100,000 in award money to honor students, staff and school organizations that make a positive and lasting impact in their schools and communities. Through this initiative, Varsity Brands aims to elevate the student experience and promote school spirit nationwide.

“Varsity Brands is proud to honor the staff members who go above and beyond their duties to contribute to our schools. These staff members put forth a great deal of extra work to make high school engaging and memorable in and out the classroom,” said Jeff Webb, Founder and Chairman of Varsity Brands.


This award will honor one athletic director who supports all school teams enthusiastically and equally, regardless of success level. He/she encourages athletes to excel on the playing field and in the classroom and attends a variety of sporting events to maintain spirit and school pride.

Finalists include:

· Cindy Roach; Blue Valley West High School; Overland Park, KS

· Randy Garrett; Coffee High School; Douglas, GA

· Molly Feesler; Pickerington High School; Pickerington, OH

· Luke Beach; Rochester High School; Rochester Hills, MI

The $25,000 grand prize award, America’s Most Spirited High School, will honor one high school that demonstrates unparalleled school spirit and community pride. The winner of this category will be determined by online voting at, and the public can vote for their favorite. Winners from all 23 categories will be announced in an award ceremony on May 15th, at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando, Florida.

To learn more about Varsity Brands and its School Spirit Awards, please visit

About Varsity Brands

With a mission to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for young people, Varsity Brands elevates the student experience, promotes participation and celebrates achievement through three unique but interrelated businesses: Herff Jones, A Varsity Achievement Brand; BSN SPORTS, a Varsity Sport Brand; and Varsity Spirit. Together, these assets promote personal, school and community pride through their customizable products and programs to elementary and middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities, as well as church organizations, professional and collegiate sports teams and corporations. Through its 8,600 dedicated employees and independent representatives, Varsity Brands reaches its individual and institutional customers each year via catalog, telesales, e-commerce sites and direct sales channels.

Annual Online Learning Day group picture. Online Learning Day group picture.

Staff Reports