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A behind the scenes look at education from pre-K to college in Northeast Ohio

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ohio Senate Bill 5 - Could it change teacher-school districts relationships?

Public employees are protesting all over the state regarding Ohio Senate Bill 5.
Nancy Knack, educational aide from Willoughby-Eastlake School, is one of the many school employees worried about the elimination of collective bargaining. She thinks it could mean an end to her job.
The bill as proposed might not mean the end to jobs, but it may be a beginning of a new employee and employer relationship.

According to the bill analysis from the 128th Ohio General Assembly, educational staff have to consider the financial status of the public employer at the time period surrounding the negotiations for purposes determining the ability of the employer to pay for any agreed terms.
The proposal also states, it prohibits parties from basing the ability of the employer to pay for terms of the agreement on potential future increases in the employer's income that would only be possible by the employer by obtaining funding from an outside source, including the passage of a levy or bond issue.
The teachers and non-teaching school employees would have merit based pay, according to the bill.
They would no longer have statutory salary schedules or steps, which means teachers could no longer have increase in salaries due to years in service or additional training. Teachers would also be prohibited from continuing contracts with the districts, except those already in existence.
Teachers would no longer be in control of their health benefits.
"The board of education of any school district would govern employee health benefits in the same way as a governing board of any public institution of higher education."
Public employers would also be limited to paying 80 percent premiums for health care coverage.

-- Angela Gartner

Friday, February 11, 2011

Is your school district open enrollment?

Some districts are open enrollment in our coverage area, what is your school's policy?

This open enrollment program is voluntary and schools can choose to or not to participate. Schools can opt in the statewide open enrollment which means that district can take students from across the state or only adjacent schools open enrollment.

Schools chose open enrollment for a variety of reasons, but so do parents. Some want to have their child in a better school environment due to a low performing districts or others may seek better program offerings.

Students who want to attend an open enrollment district would have to fill out an application, in most cases, and be accepted, however, no transportation is provided to those students.

Geauga County School Districts

Berkshire          only adjacent schools open enrollment
Cardinal             statewide open enrollment
Chardon             no open enrollment
Kenston              no open enrollment
Ledgemont         statewide open enrollment
Newbury           statewide open enrollment
West Geauga    statewide open enrollment

Lake County School Districts

Fairport Harbor         statewide open enrollment
Kirtland                     no open enrollment
Madison                    statewide open enrollment
Mentor                       no open enrollment
Riverside                    statewide open enrollment
Perry                           no open enrollment
Painesville                   statewide open enrollment
Wickliffe                      no open enrollment
Willoughby-Eastlake    no open enrollment

Cuyahoga County School Districts

Mayfield                          no open enrollment
Richmond Heights           no open enrollment
South Euclid-Lyndhurst   no open enrollment

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow day decisions for schools isn't easy

As I woke up around 4:45 a.m. this morning and thought of the sunny day approaching, I thought about area school superintendents who most likely are sleeping in on a day like this.

However, on Tuesday and Wednesday, that wasn't the case. Most were waking up in the early hours of the morning to figure out if they need to cancel school.

In fact, many superintendents told me they wake up around 4 a.m.during times increment weather is predicted.

Kirtland School Superintendent Stephen Young was talking with city road crews in those early hours of Wednesday morning and even had the bus mechanics start the school buses.

He said the decision came down to the icy roads conditions and there was a concern about some of the hills in the city.

"We thought it better to just close," he said.

Madison Schools Superintendent Roger Goudy wasn't just on the phone but out on the roads themselves at 4 a.m, surveying firsthand the situation bus drivers would face.

This week, some schools made their decisions the night before, knowing the ice storm was on it's way, but most make their decision early morning so it gives parents an opportunity to make plans.

Perry Schools Superintendent Keith Thimons said the district tries to make a decision around 5 to 5:30 a.m.

These decisions are not easy.  I can't imagine what it would be like to cancel a whole school district.

Just think, what would you do?

Despite the critics, most superintendents said the most important factor in the decision of canceling school is student and staff safety.

"Our concern is the safety of the students," Mentor Schools spokeswoman Kristen Kirby said. "If we feel the roads are unsafe, we are going to call a snow day no matter what the law is."

Although, when asked Thimons if the calamity day issue is a factor when deciding to close schools, he said its always a nagging thought, but it doesn't sway his decision.

"If it's bad, we would expose our children, faculty and staff to a dangerous situation," he said. "We are always going to air on the side of safety."

--Angela Gartner