By Jim Painter
For the Troy Daily News
PLEASANT HILL — The Newton Local School Board of Education has unanimously agreed to stand by Superintendent Pat McBride in opposition the state legislation regarding student academic achievement measuring standards. Next week, McBride will join many of his peers to gain attention to the problem at the statehouse in Columbus.
Statewide, education officials are claiming standards currently in House Bill 487 will result in many students being unable to obtain enough graduation credits to earn a high school diploma. An effort to improve the rules began two years ago with the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network and is now gaining momentum, per McBride.
On Wednesday, all five Newton board members concluded their regular meeting by signing a letter that will be sent to state legislators and education leaders. Next Tuesday, in a show of solidarity, more than 200 superintendents from 70 counties will take to steps of the Ohio Capitol Building in hopes of gaining attention from legislators.
The letter states the power of local officials to establish education standards has eroded over the past two decades. It continues by stating HB 487 increased graduation requirements citing “more rigorous standards.” A move educators claim, in part, “has taken illogical political intrusion to a level heretofore unseen.”
Educators note that a low score on a single state standardized test could outweigh 180 days of successful classroom instruction.
McBride told board members the current graduation requirements have increased dramatically resulting in a higher risk and increased number of students being unable to graduate with classmates. He said the social stigma of not being a high school graduate should not be an optional label educators should tag students with due to bad legislation.
He noted the strongly worded letter retorts in part, ‘Make no mistake about it, because it is poorly conceived, HB 487 is a train wreck in waiting, and its impending damage is obvious more than a year before the crash actually occurs. Unless this bill is repealed, thousands of innocent students will suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives.”
The letter claims HB 487 is a “draconian approach to educating children in its current form” and must be changed.
During the meeting Wednesday, McBride said strongly, “Legislators need to stop this type thing and get out of the business of education. It’s political and selfish on their part.”
In a separate athletic matter, McBride addressed a growing problem that he contends stems, in part, by individuals not connected the district school system. He reported the Newton girls’ junior varsity basketball team has lost four games off their schedule due to some area teams not having enough athletes to fully field a team.
Athletic Director Gavin Spitler agreed the problem is growing and there was no exact reason why the trend was getting larger.
McBride said his experience has been outside athletic groups convincing student athletes to focus solely on a single sport. He noted his experience with such groups as the AAU organizations was clear. It is a for-profit business and it fulfilled their goals by obtaining an athlete that competes in a lone sport.
He noted efforts of sports leaders indicating the students only have the option of playing for them is wrong and of no benefit to the student.
“In a small school setting like ours, the goal is to have the student well-rounded. They should be athletes that may want to play several sports. A college recruiter told me they look for a multi-sport athlete because they not specialized,” McBride said.
McBride and Spitler agreed that college scouts want a coachable athlete that will be adaptable to coaching styles and techniques.
In a separate matter, Spitler reported he has five girls and three boys on Newton’s first-year bowling team. This allows him to fully field a team.
Currently the team has 10 matches scheduled and will use Miami Lanes in West Milton as their home location.
In the treasurer’s report, the board heard the ending balance for the General Fund in October was 21.5 percent higher than last year. The balance was $2,752,195, per Treasurer Nick Hamilton, putting the district $501,029 in the black.
He also reported income tax is up 8.8 percent from the previous year, which equals $63,677. Total revenues are up 7.83 percent and total expenditure are down 8.12 percent.
Hamilton reported the district is in “a very strong and stable financial condition.”
In other business, the board approved a request to abandon the rule to procure inhalers from students that would be used in emergency situations; and heard quotes are being sought to fix air conditioning problems in the gymnasium.
Early in the meeting, McBride presented five “only in Newton!” personal recognition certificates highlighting uplifting efforts by staff and students.
Reach Jim Painter at firstname.lastname@example.org