Superintendent: Big changes may trigger big headaches for local school districts

By Tom Stephens

DEGRAFF — Superintendent Scott Man told the Riverside Board of Education Tuesday that the recent termination of the “No Child Left Behind” program has thrown a monkey wrench in the administrative cogs of public education.

The scuttling of the the No Child Left Behind initiative now places the individual states in the position to take much more control of the public schools within their borders, Mann told the board. This shift is expected to take effect in the 2017-18 school year, and with it the inevitable mountain of new regulations and mandates individual school districts must be expected to follow. As it stands now, Mann continued, the program that will take one of the biggest hits is the College Credits Plus, his concerns being that the funding for what he described as a ‘wonderful, very successful’ program will implode or even dry up.

Mann went on to say that while it will continue to be mandatory for states to introduce testing in reading and math for third through eighth grades, other than that there will be little to no oversight by Washington. For good or ill, Mann said, “There will be no role (in local school districts) for the federal Department of Education.”

He also expressed his displeasure about a suggested plan to rank the schools in the state by academic achievement. Mann pointed out under a system that ranks schools, one third of all districts in Ohio – regardless of there academic standing or successes — will always be in the bottom of the overall rankings. He pointed that he was more enthusiastic for a second suggestion that schools be ‘rated’ rather than ranked.

“I’d take that every day,” Mann said of Riverside being rated for its achievements rather than being arbitrarily ranked against other schools. “I don’t care if they ‘rate’ us,” he said bruquesly, “but rankings are bogus.”

Mann pointed out that none of this is written in stone as it will be up to the Ohio Legislature to make the final decisions on how the schools are to be run and how they are to be funded. But he made it clear that changes are on the way – be they for good or ill – and that the board, administration, and staff should expecting to be dealing with them in the near future.

In other matters, the board approved the employment of Michelle Graves on a one-year limited teaching contract effective Jan. 4, 2016, as an Intervention Specialist for the third and fourth grades.

At the the start the meeting, board president Don Klingler took the unusual step of holding the floor for the 10 minutes to hand out plaudits and offer goodbyes.

The accolades came via a prepared statement and addressed Riverside head football coach Tim McGill and senior football players who were in attendance. Klingler praised the team not only for its outstanding efforts on the gridiron — Riverside won its first playoff game in school history this past fall — but also for the grace and composure the team showed off the field and the galvanizing effect it had on the residents of the district. After finishing the prepared remarks, Klinger addressed the seniors directly, saying “You have every right to be proud of yourselves.”

The goodbyes first went to board member Brian Knight, who did not seek re-election for his seat after winning it four years ago and will surrender his position Dec. 31 with Klingler saying the board would miss Knight’s calm and rational manner. Klingler saved special praise for treasurer Jennifer Blackford, who also is leaving the district Dec. 31. Blackford, who has served the district for over three years, was credited by Klingler setting up the future fund alerts, modernizing the payroll and banking programs, and implementing the HR264 improvements, which has made significant reductions in the school’s energy consumption and costs.

Blackford has accepted a similar position at St. Henry Schools and is expected to start after the first of the year.

The board scheduled its yearly organization meeting for Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 5:30 p.m., with the regular January board meeting to immediately follow.

By Tom Stephens

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.