Education News for 04-19-2013

State Education News

  • Projections show funding increases for charter schools (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • After cutting $82.2 million from Gov. John Kasich’s original school funding proposal, recent reports detailing…Read more...

  • Emotions run high at 1st school board meeting since Strongsville teachers strike (Sun Newspapers)
  • Emotions wound taught and simmering frustrations snapped and boiled over…Read more...

  • Strongsville teachers continue workplace picketing (Sun Newspapers)
  • At the end of their seventh week on strike in Strongsville, teachers there have resumed picketing at workplaces of school board members…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Medina levy issue crumbles as state probes district, superintendent’s finances (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • The Medina school board has rescinded Superintendent Randy Stepp’s contract…Read more...

  • Geneva BOE: Rehiring Zappitelli saves money (Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • Geneva Board of Education members have not been shy about their intention to retire, then rehire Superintendent Mary Zappitelli, and have given official public notice and scheduled a public hearing on the matter…Read more...

  • Emphasis placed on ability to write (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Northwest Local Schools is making big changes in its three middle schools to get its adolescent students writing papers before they get to high…Read more...

  • Participation fees might see reductions by Northridge board (Newark Advocate)
  • The Northridge School Board is considering eliminating school fees for students and reducing pay to participate fees…Read more...


  • Reeling in Medina (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • It won’t be easy, and it probably won’t be cheap, but the Medina school board must find a way to move forward, rebuilding public trust shattered by revelations…Read more...

  • Relief from dysfunction (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Medicaid expansion will remain a contentious issue for many more weeks as Ohio debates the next biennial budget. Advocates of expansion…Read more...

  • Inspired teachers inspired students (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Great teachers don’t just pound knowledge into a student’s head; they care, inspire and change lives. They teach with such passion…Read more...

Teachers stay strong in Strongsville

The teachers strike in Strongsville, Ohio is now entering its 5th week. Since the Strongsville Board of Education made their last offer, the Strongsville Education Association has made 3 counter offers that have been met with silence. The board's resistance to talk has been so extreme that a court had to order them to release public records. With this as a backdrop, we decided to travel up to Strongsville.

When we arrived we were met with the sight of hundreds of determined educators walking the picket line

After talking to them and listening to their side of the strike, it was clear to us that even after being out on strike for over a month, they were determined to secure a fair contract. It was also clear that the Strongsville board of education is being guided by special interests with an agenda and not the interests of the students and the community. This became even more apparent later in the day.

As the teachers marched up an down the sidewalk of the very busy road, they were receiving a tremendous amount of support from passersby,both in cars and on foot (a number of parents were walking the picket lines with the teachers).

Around 1pm, in the wind and cold, teachers and their supporters march to a common area to gather around a gazebo. Sen. Sherrod Brown was scheduled to address them.

At least 1,000 people turned out for a rally on Strongsville’s square attended by members of other unions.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Avon Democrat, called on Frazee to kick-start the stalled negotiations.

“Most importantly, students are not well-served when both sides are not sitting at the bargaining table,“ Brown said.

“Strongsville students deserve a settlement – now. But a settlement can’t be reached if the two parties aren’t talking. That’s why I joined teachers today – who told me how they want to be back in the classroom – and why I will keep in contact with the school board,” Brown said.

After Sen. Brown spoke, SEA President Linscott addressed her members and the crowd. She laid out the clear reasons why the strike has happened and why it continues. But more importantly she offered the board yet another opportunity to resolve the strike fairly.
In 2009 SEA and the Strongsville board agreed to binding interest arbitration should it be needed.
Again, in 2010 SEA and the Strongsville board agreed to binding interest arbitration. In both cases that course of action wasn't needed as agreements were made.
Yesterday, SEA once again offered to end the strike immediately if the board agreed to binding interest arbitration. The proposal can be read in full below.

Strongsville E.A Binding Arbitration offer

Unlike in 2009 and 2010, the Strongsville board rejected this offer before the end of the day, once again demonstrating bad faith and a motive other than ending the month long strike. If their goal is to try and break the SEA, and it appears that that is their goal, they are going to fail. The hundreds of teachers we met, saw and talked ot yesterday were determined and resolved to continue their strike until a fair labor contract is agreed to.

The Federal mediator has called both parties back to the negotiating table today. Pressure on the Board is mounting as conditions inside Strongsville schools is deteriorating

Dozens of parents and students fed up with the Strongsville teachers strike took their pleas for the school board to negotiate and find common ground with the teachers union to City Council’s April 1 meeting.

Six Strongsville High School students recounted concerning conditions inside the school – overfilled classrooms, substitutes who did not know the material they were teaching and were not told where the regular teacher left off and an abundance of movies and study halls peppering the eight-period school day have become the norm, they said.
Pam Mullen, who has three children in the district, says her two youngest children at Muraski Elementary School are on IEPs for speech and reading.

“For over a week they did not receive the help they needed,” Mullen said. “My daughter tried her best to keep up, but it was too much. It led to melt downs and stomach aches.”

Mullen said she received a letter from the district saying no speech therapists had been hired yet, and she could not afford to hire one herself.

“This past month has been frustrating for my family,” she said.

Moser said some of her classmates who are on IEPs were left to fend for themselves at a time that was crucial for not just them, but the school district – Ohio Graduation Tests, which took place March 11-15, during the second week of the strike.

“Strongsville City Schools was thriving before this,” Moser said. “Now there’s no learning, no love and hallways are filled with dread.”

Junior Mathangi Sridharan painted the picture for those students who are in AP classes, high-level courses the district has struggled to fill.

Sridharan said students have been going over the material that will be covered in tests given next month by themselves – she and two other students have even taught some classes.
Other students spoke about the void of honors classes and extracurricular activities, including concerts and plays the students had spent months preparing for, but a common theme came up between parents and students, alike – the strike is on the brink of doing irreparable harm to the community.

The board has now had 4 opportunities offered to it by the striking teachers and has remained silent, refusing to negotiate in good faith. Let's hope they see sense and reason, and find a way to end this strike in a way that is fair to everyone, students, teachers and the community at large.

You can stay up to date on the strongsville strike at the SEA Facebook page, and on Twitter.

Education News for 03-29-2013

State Education News

  • Board of directors’ votes to shut down Akron Digital Academy (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • With just more than half of its nine-member roster present, the board of directors for the Akron Digital Academy voted 4-1 Wednesday night to shut down the online school…Read more...

  • Bethel works to meet reading guarantee requirements (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • School board members March 21 approved a resolution stating the district would not be compliant with the Third Grade Reading Guarantee requirements for the 2013-2014 school year…Read more...

  • Students sharing successes (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • From designing bridges and 3D projects to exploring their creative side, area high school students also are getting a head start on their college degrees…Read more...

  • Tests point to improved designation for Youngstown schools (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Based on preliminary data, city school and state officials expect the Youngstown district to move to the equivalent of “continuous improvement” on the 2012-13 state report card…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Small crowds attended Conneaut school shooter meetings (Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • A subject dear to parents, the safety of their children, didn’t help put people into seats at a series of recent meetings outlining Conneaut’s school defense plans…Read more...

  • Striking Strongsville teachers obtain documents (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Strongsville schools spent more than $1.1 million through the first two weeks of a teachers strike, according to figures the Strongsville Education Association…Read more...

  • ‘Still Frontier kids’ (Marietta Times)
  • Becoming a charter school would not sever Lawrence Elementary's ties with the Frontier Local school district…Read more...

  • Springboro school board posts contract proposals (Middletown Journal)
  • The Springboro school board has published contract proposals submitted by the board and the union representing district’s teachers and certified staff during their first negotiating session…Read more...

  • New school projects deficit in first 4 years (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Financial projections for the agricultural science school show that the academy would operate at a deficit for the first four years…Read more...

  • Documents detail cost of Strongsville teachers strike for district (Sun Newspapers)
  • According to recently released documents, the school district spent more than $1.1 million in preparation and execution through the first two weeks…Read more...

Education News for 03-21-2013

Local Education News

  • Jefferson Area School District employees may face layoffs (Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • Educators and staff of the Jefferson Area School District could be facing layoffs as board members unanimously approved the intent for a reduction in force for the 2013-2014 school year…Read more...

  • Academic measures may be altered (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Elementary school report cards could have more detail, the grading scale could change and more classes could help boost a student’s GPA…Read more...

  • T.J. Lane's 'Killer' T-shirt stirs debate over defendants' statements in court (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz said Wednesday that he was shocked when T.J. Lane showed off his "Killer" T-shirt at his sentencing, but he didn't point it out during the proceeding because he believed the judge would take care of it…Read more...

  • Huber schools could restore $1.6M in instructional programs (Dayton Daily News)
  • Officials with Huber Heights City Schools are considering restoring $1.6 million in instructional programs if the district is able to generate additional revenue by passing a levy in August and receives an increase in state funding…Read more...

  • Impacts of Heights tax levy success, failure outlined (Newark Advocate)
  • Licking Heights schools superintendent Philip Wagner laid out the good news and bad news Tuesday surrounding the success or failure of the district’s proposed new 8.9-mill tax levy…Read more...

  • Strike spills into Beachwood, Parma as Strongsville teachers picket at board members' employers (Sun Newspapers)
  • Picketers for the Strongsville Education Association took their message to the Western Campus of Cuyahoga Community College March 20, where David Frazee, president of the Strongsville School Board…Read more...

  • Superintendent Hathorn wants to meet with charter school parents (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • City schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn wants to meet with parents of students attending charter schools to tout what the city district has to offer…Read more...

  • Student fees hot topic at Austintown BOE (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • School board members spoke out Tuesday about fees that are charged yearly to all students, saying that some parents and teachers have been vocal in their opposition to them…Read more...


  • School aid do-over (Toledo Blade)
  • When Gov. John Kasich first outlined his plan to reform Ohio public school funding, there was hope it would lead to a more equitable, more adequate system. As details of the proposal have emerged, that hope largely has been dashed…Read more...

Stongsville Strike Primer

What's going on in Strongsville? Here's a good primer, via Diane Ravitch's blog.

My name is Christina Potter and I have taught in the Strongsville City Schools in Strongsville, Ohio for the last eight years.

When I was hired in Strongsville, a great community with excellent schools, many other teachers said I was lucky, and they were jealous of my new job, and during the first two years, they were right; things were great with all sides working together,and we earned Ohio’s highest ranking, Excellent with Distinction.

As time went on a division started to occur between the administration and the teachers. During our 2010 contract negotiations the school stated that times were difficult and they needed the teachers to make concessions. In good faith, and promise of a levy, we agreed to an additional two year pay freeze on top of the three years we had already taken. We also increased our medical expenses, took on an additional duty period, and agreed to work two days unpaid. Times were tough, but everyone was striving to make Strongsville great.

Then, everything went haywire. With the ink still drying on our contract, the Board tried to take the levy off the ballot but failed, so instead, they informed the community to vote the levy down. Then we learned that while the district cried broke in 2010, it spent $500,000 to hire an attorney who publicizes himself as a union breaker. Every school district in this area that has hired him has either gone on strike or threatened to. Needless to say, the teachers, who negotiated in good faith, were outraged.

When our contract ended in June 2012, the district asked for extra time before negotiating to get its finances in order, so on July 19th, the first negotiation session took place. Upon walking in, their attorney put a contract down on the table and told us it was a take it or leave it offer and refused to negotiate one item at a time. After months of failing to negotiate a contract, our Education Association declared an impasse, and a Federal Mediator came in to oversee negotiations. Here is the timeline of recent events:

1. On February 15th, 2013 the teachers of the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) overwhelmingly passed a strike authorization.

2. On February 22nd, SEA submitted a 10-day notice of our intent to strike.

3. On March 1st, I had to hand in my I.D. badge and keys and have all of my personal belongings out of the building by 3:15 p.m. After 3:15, the doors would be locked, and anyone still on school property would be arrested even though we had not taken a final strike vote; we also had another negotiation session scheduled for Saturday morning. For all intense purposes we were not on strike yet but we were being locked out of the buildings, our email accounts and our grade books.

4. On March 2nd, both negotiating teams and the School Board members met with the federal negotiator. At that time the school gave its final offer which was only slightly different than their original.

And that takes us to where we are today, on strike. Many of my fellow teachers are also Strongsville residents, who have children in the system. They fear we are destroying our great public schools by trashing the teaching profession within them, instead of working toward a settlement. They feel the Board has chosen to waste tax payer money and painted teachers as greedy; meanwhile, it has forked over another $500,000, for a total of $1 million, to an attorney instead of using the money for books and technology.

Why are we striking in the cold, wind, and snow from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. We, the Strongsville teachers, feel we are not just standing for the SEA, but for all of our fellow public school teachers in the Ohio and across the nation during this statewide/national epidemic of privatizing our public schools. If this contract goes through other school districts may soon go after their teachers, and we cannot in good conscience allow that to happen. As a teacher and a parent of two, I believe in public education and its hard working teachers, who too often are the brunt of undeserved bashing.

The teachers of Strongsville will hold a rally this afternoon at 4 pm in the center of Strongsville, at the gazebo, at the corners of Pearl Rd. and Rt 82.

Education News for 03-07-2013

State Education News

  • Both candidates for Ohio education boss have made missteps (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Gov. John Kasich’s education adviser disclosed a 2009 drunken-driving conviction as part of the Ohio Board of Education’s search to find a new state superintendent…Read more...

  • Local schools didn't use up calamity days (Mansfield News Journal)
  • Students may not be happy about it, but the winter of 2012-13 has been kind to area school districts…Read more...

  • Restructuring plan unveiled (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Three school buildings would close next year, two more would change functions and grade alignment would change in several others under a restructuring plan…Read more...

  • School board president wants Connie Hathorn to stay (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Superintendent Connie Hathorn still doesn’t have a new contract, but as of Wednesday afternoon, he had the backing of the school board’s majority…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Strongsville teachers, district hold talks - but no positive results (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • No positive news emerged and no further talks are scheduled following a meeting Wednesday night of officials from the Strongsville school district and its striking teacher's union…Read more...

  • Coleman’s panel asks: Is elected school board best? (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s Education Commission will bring in experts later this month to explore whether an elected school board is the best governance model for Columbus City Schools…Read more...

  • Marion superintendent interviews beginning (Marion Star)
  • The Marion City Schools Board of Education announced it will start interviewing superintendent candidates today as it searches for a successor to James Barney…Read more...

  • No more talks scheduled; parties in Strongsville teacher strike remain divided (Sun Newspapers)
  • Contract talks between the teachers union and the district won't resume in the coming days, said Strongsville Board of Education President David Frazee March 6…Read more...

  • Medina: Outrage at superintendent's 'supersized' bonus (WKYC)
  • Parents, teachers and students in the Medina School district are outraged over a supersized bonus for the superintendent…Read more...