Gadfly Bites 10/10/18 – Don’t hold back the realness

  1. Columbus City Schools is in the money, it appears. What’s the secret formula that has led to this great news? More revenue than expected and greater savings than expected. Simple. The teachers union president seems unhappy at this news, but don’t worry, chum. I’m sure the board is spending as fast as it can to take care of the excess. (Columbus Dispatch, 10/9/18) Here’s a surefire burn of at least $300K that Columbus might think about: Akron City Schools has built a health clinic exclusively for district staff and their dependents. That supplements the other exclusive clinic already in operation which was deemed to be less centrally-located than is generally needed. (Akron Beacon Journal, 10/9/18) Or how about this? Dayton City Schools, which appears to be rolling in dough as we have noted a lot recently, is poised to spend nearly $600,000 on advertising in the next two years. It is, among other things, meant to increase enrollment. I’m not sure what exactly the message will be, but I do know you can buy a lot of lipstick for half a mill. (Dayton Daily News, 10/9/18)
     
  2. Speaking of money (when aren’t we, I ask you again), Akron City Schools may be rolling in even more money soon. (ACS General Hospital and Orthopedic Rehab Center, anyone?) The board this week approved the disposition of ten unused buildings which will be auctioned off over the next 18 months. I do think perhaps the Akronites may have forgotten who gets first crack at those buildings once up for sale, but I’m sure it’s OK. However, can I just ask: how many empty buildings?! (Akron Beacon Journal, 10/8/18)
     
  3. You know who’s not rolling in dough? Most charter schools in Ohio. So said the head of the Ohio teachers union anyway, as she stood side-by-side with unionized charter school teachers in Parma this week getting ready to negotiate a new contract. You know how the old saying goes: The only good charter school is a closed charter school. The next best charter school is a unionized charter school. What, you don’t know that saying? Wow. Just me, I guess. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/10/18)
     
  4. In Toledo, folks are still talking about the district’s state report card…and money. (Toledo Blade, 10/9/18) No money talk in Lima as state supe Paolo DeMaria came to visit this week, but there was talk of Lima City Schools’ lowly report card. Amid the happy talk and photo ops that go along with these types of visits, supe was asked about the possibility of an Academic Distress declaration in Lima—and all that comes along with it—in the near future. To his credit, dude didn’t hold back the realness. (Lima News, 10/9/18)
     
  5. Speaking of districts operating under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission, the elected school board in Youngstown is holding its three day retreat this week. (How many days?!) Here is some coverage of Day One of the retreat, in which very little seems to have occurred. IMHO, that is. (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/8/18) Day Two, in which the Youngstown board members heard from representatives of Trotwood-Madison City Schools, was rich with irony. You will recall that a.) Trotwood is no longer in danger of an Academic Distress declaration and all that comes along with it because they improved their report card by a tiny fraction, and b.) Trotwood’s interim supe Tyrone Olverson, who did a lot of talking yesterday, used to work in the CEO’s administration at Youngstown. But he left. (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/10/18) Saving the best for last, Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip is the guest of honor for the closing ceremonies today. That should be fun.
     
  6. Back to report cards for one more item: Districts in far eastern Ohio have a lot to say about theirs. Well, mostly the same thing: Don’t judge our district by its letter grades. Ironically, all of the district officials quoted in this piece go on to describe their districts in the exact way the report cards do. “You should see our kids who are doing great!” they cry. Yes, supe/spokesperson, we do see them. The report card reflects that some kids ARE doing great. (More so in hard-scrabble Steubenville than almost any similar district in Ohio, BTW.) But those Ds and Fs? They reflect the students that maybe aren’t doing so great. And maybe, just maybe, there are more of the latter than of the former. That would, by my rough calculation, result in a fairly bad grade in a number of categories and probably overall too. See? Simple. Perhaps you could make an effort at moving the latter students into the former category instead of wasting your energy disputing the report card that indicates they exist. (Steubenville Herald-Star, 10/9/18)
     
  7. Finally today, two pieces of good news. The Dayton Regional STEM School is on the grow, expanding its classroom and laboratory space to support a new partnership with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It is also getting ready to celebrate its 10th birthday this year, or as I like to call it: their Tenth Awesomeversary! (Dayton Daily News, 10/9/18) The Strive Together program, including the one in Cincinnati, is the subject of ecstatic love in David Brooks’ column from Monday. (New York Times, 10/8/18)

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Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,