Members of the Big Walnut school board sounded off last week on everything from charter schools to terrorism.
Last Thursday evening, board member Andy Wecker took a swipe at legislators who permit local tax dollars to be used to fund charter schools. Wecker said charter schools have lower costs than brick and mortar public schools, but are still fully funded, using local taxpayers’ money.
“There’s an old saying: If you want to see how expensive something is, make it free,” Wecker said. “At least five school districts in Ohio impacted by charter schools have done studies on the impact of local public school tax dollars being used to fund charter schools.
“It seems to me there are a lot of people at the state and federal level who think they can make better decisions than people in our communities,” Wecker added. “People who write rules are exceeding their capacity to enforce them.”
During her comments, board member Allison Fagan noted that the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act is being replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act that President Obama signed last Thursday.
“This new act will give states more state ownership in the outcome,” Fagan said. “We’ll have to wait and see what the trickle-down is.”
Fagan also noted the efforts of state Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, to eliminate or reduce pay-to-play fees for public school sports. Hite believes some high fees discourage student participation in co-curricular activities, especially for students involved in multiple sports, and for families with more than one child participating in sports.
Superintendent Angie Pollock noted that if pay-to-play fees were eliminated, Big Walnut High School would lose $200,000 in athletic program funding and the middle school would lose $100,000.
Board member Brad Schneider, who serves as the school board’s liaison with the village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission, noted the number of area residents who attended November zoning meeting expressing concerns about the proposed Northgate development.
“You have to remember that with everything going on development wise, we have a lot of input,” Schneider said. “Go out to meetings, advocate for your school district. Your voice does matter.”
Board member Nicci Hess said the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, is something that could happen anywhere.
“We have to be sure we keep up the vigilance,” Hess said. “We seem like a small community, but this is something that’s very real in our country today. It’s something to keep in mind.”
In other business, it was noted that the 2014-15 PARCC/AIR assessment results are finally in – eight months after testing.
District Director of Academic Achievement Jen Young said Big Walnut met all of its indicators.
Young also noted that this year PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) has been eliminated; the state will use AIR (American Institutes for Research) as its Common Core test provider.
Board members will hold their organizational meeting at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, in the Big Walnut Intermediate School conference room.
President pro tempore for the Jan. 7 board meeting will be Mindy Meier.
The next regularly scheduled board of education meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, in the Big Walnut High School media center.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093