VANDALIA —The movement to shift power away from state legislators and back to local school boards is gaining steam around the state according to Vandalia-Butler City Schools Superintendent Bradley Neavin.
Neavin made that observation during his report to the Vandalia-Butler Board of Education during its regular meeting Tuesday evening.
“Over a year ago, when I started talking about this subject to Montgomery County Superintendent Frank DePalma, he presented to the other superintendents and its not like anyone was on fire about it at that time,” said Neavin. “Now we have done a survey which showed that parents are fed up with testing, they don’t think it drives instruction, they think teachers should be making decisions about what kids are being taught.”
Neavin said much has happened over the past six months that is giving the issue traction and, despite the passage of Senate Bill 208, which will restore some of the funding cuts the district was expecting next year, it isn’t enough.
“You see the legislators responding by backing off on testing and trying to fix some of the budget, but we aren’t going to back off,” said Neavin. “This budget change is good, but we aren’t taking hush money. People are saying no, we never should have gone down this path to begin with.”
The legislation will restore $287,000 of a projected $542,000 decrease in TPP hold-harmless payments that were vetoed by Governor John Kasich using his line item veto authority.
“We are getting back a little more than half of what was lost,” said Neavin. “It sounds like legislators are starting to listen to us.”
The school district, along with the Vandalia City Council and Butler Township Trustees, are expected to vote on a joint resolution calling for more local control from what they view as encroaching state authority. That vote will likely take place at a joint meeting scheduled for November 30.
Neavin also thanked athletes and coaches who gathered over the weekend at the Vandalia Art Park and Helke Park in a community service event. Over 120 athletes and coaches participated.
“The kids worked hard and I received nothing but positive comments back from the city and the disc golf officials,” said Butler High School Assistant Principal Ryan Rogers. “Hopefully our students will get something from serving as well.”
In other action, the Board approved a land use agreement with the City of Vandalia for five acres of property adjacent to Helke Elementary School to be used for the construction of a disc golf course.
The disc golf course will be built and operated by the Vandalia Parks and Recreation Department.
Corina Kreill and Samantha Peters reported on activities and athletics at Butler High School.
Treasurer Eric Beavers expressed frustration at a public records request he received that, in his view, is overly broad. He urged those seeking information to meet with district officials and ask questions.
“Everything we do is public information, but not every item is a public record,” said Beavers. “I do understand the need for public information and the law’s requirement, but it is frustrating when you offer not once, not twice, but three times to meet with the top two executives of the district and yet they refuse to meet.”
Board Member Mary Kilsheimer said that the information is easy to get.
“You do an excellent job in providing financial information at our workshops and business meetings,” she told Beavers.
In addition to personnel matters, the Board also passed a resolution naming Darrell Wacker, the author of this article, and Editor of the Vandalia Drummer News, to the Ohio School Boards Association Media Honor Roll for 2015.
“We express our appreciation for your balanced and accurate approach to sharing with this community both the challenges facing our schools and the success achieved by the staff and students,” said the resolution.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.