By Jim Painter
For the Troy Daily News
PLEASANT HILL – Newton Local School Superintendent Pat McBride plans to join a group of fellow school superintendents in making a visit to the Ohio Statehouse in hopes of persuading legislators to change student testing requirements.
Originally, the plan was to visit lawmakers on Nov. 15 during the four-day Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference. After learning the house would not be in session at that time, another time to visit is currently being scheduled, according to McBride.
On Wednesday, McBride informed the Newton Board of Education that a statewide effort is underway to find support to capture the attention of lawmakers. Stating changes are needed to take the pressure off students and better reflect public awareness of the effectiveness of school districts is needed, McBride said he intends to join in.
“All the testing is not good for the students. The state report cards, you don’t really get anything out of it. Plus it’s a waste of time and it’s political.”
McBride said three years ago school officials were informed that standards used for the report cards released publicly were going to change.
“They (state officials) told us the report cards were going to change and we (districts) aren’t going to look good. What if a teacher said that to their students? It says they’ve already made up their minds we are going to look bad.”
He said constantly changing state rules; the chore of addressing staff year-to-year about redundant academic standards changes; and results of eventually putting more pressure on students to pass a test, need to be modified.
The superintendent said it was like telling educators to take proper aim in teaching, but state leaders are constantly “changing the target”. He said state officials have not fully explained how the report card results are calculated.
McBride said the public report cards make it difficult for people to fully understand how successful a school is. He noted he refuses to tout the report card on topics that make the district look good then bash the system if the grade isn’t as well reflected.
Also, the board approved a five-year financial forecast for the district. The projections are due to state officials yet this month, McBride said. He added that while the report must project five years out, officials should expect the number for one year out are considered most predictable.
He said the unpredictable methods of state funding formulas could change those figures. The report shows the district with a positive ending cash balance in the General Fund all five years reflecting the district’s current financial stability, he said.
According to the financial report compiled by Treasurer Nick Hamilton, the district finished Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-16 with an ending General Fund cash balance of $2,512,273 as of June 30. The district ended the FY at $261,107 in the black.
For FY 2016-17, an ending General Fund cash balance is estimated to be $2,733,696. Projected income figures total $6,789,772. The anticipated expenditures total $6,307,251, which includes $3,316,994 in salaries and another $1,225,438 for employee retirement and benefits.
The board approved a payment of $43,863 to Dant Clayton of Louisville, Ky., the lowest bidder for the final installation of outdoor bleacher seating at the new track and soccer field. The section will include a handicap ramp and be raised above the track level.
With the new track installed, the school will host their first home track meet next spring.
The option to field a bowling team as a winter sport was approved by the board. Eric Schindler was approved as the head coach. McBride said five girls and eight boys have expressed interest in forming teams.
Four new people were hired. They were Jolene Neff, class advisor; Tricia Bowser, cafeteria worker and lunch supervision; Larry Powell, substitute classified worker; and Kyle Maslowski, substitute custodian.
In other business, the board approved an annual resolution to pay $250 for the school year to parents/guardians in lieu of providing transportation; the 2017-18 school year; and an FFA trip to Indianapolis Oct. 19-21.
Reach Jim Painter at firstname.lastname@example.org