VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler City Schools are set to begin a program intended to bring non-traditional students – and the tax dollars that follow them – back into the school district.
The program, called Aviator Connections, is set to be voted on by the Board of Education at Tuesday’s business meeting. Darren “DJ” Wyrick, recently hired as Butler’s new basketball coach, will be the facilitator for the new program if the hire is approved by the Board.
“We have students who leave our district to go to alternative educational settings,” said Butler High School Principal Chad Hill. “$5,900 per student goes elsewhere for each one of those students that is not educated here in our district. Only 15-20 percent of our per student funding comes from the state of Ohio, so the remainder of that money is our own taxpayers that are paying for students to be educated somewhere else.”
Superintendent Brad Neavin says that the program is intended to meet the needs of students who need options other than the traditional school day.
“In a researched based instructional environment, it is clear no ‘one size fits all’ for students and their particular learning needs,” said Neavin in an emailed statement. “Aviator Connections addresses our desire to reach all students; those who want to take additional coursework that won’t fit in their academic day, those who respond better to a more digitized curriculum and those who may be behind in their academic progress due to health, discipline or family issues.”
The program is set up with two time slots for students to work full-time online or in the classroom, from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. and from 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. A student’s first course will be four days per week with all assessments completed in the lab on school premises.
A student’s second course is one day per week with all assessments taken at the lab by appointment. Any courses after that are one day per week with unit tests completed in the lab.
“Aviator Connections will do what most of the charter schools are doing but yet keep the student as part of Butler High School,” said Hill. “Students will still be connected to Butler High School and they will have a facilitator who is interested in them being successful.”
Students utilizing Aviator Connections will earn their high school diploma from the Vandalia-Butler City Schools and Butler High School if they meet all the graduation requirements – something that does not occur when a student attends a charter school or online school.
Students are also eligible to participate in extra-curricular activities and athletics as long as they meet eligibility requirements of both the local district and the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
In January 0f 2015, the Ohio Department of Education reported that the equivalent of 108 full-time students of Vandalia-Butler Schools were enrolled in 26 charter schools which, at $5,900 per student, was costing the district $637,200 per year. Of those, 78 were Butler students.
Hill estimates that the program will bring 25 of those students back into the district resulting in a gross decrease of $147,500 going to charter schools. The district will contract with Virtual Community Schools of Ohio to provide teachers at a cost of just under $59,000 per year, and the facilitator salary and benefits will cost approximately $60,000 per year resulting in a net gain of almost $25,000 per year.
Neavin called the program a win-win for everyone.
“This program brings the non-traditional instructional model back into our District where OUR students can best be served by those who are truly committed to their success,” said Neavin. “This is a win for our parents, our tax-payers, and, most importantly, our students.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.