Gadfly Bites 6/6/18 – Hot, fresh, and reasonably priced

  1. Lots of superintendent turnover in Butler County school districts in the last few years it seems. The longest-serving supe is just finishing his third year on the job. Those are the only facts I could pull out of this piece, which is, sadly, not very well written. (Dayton Daily News, 6/5/18)
     
  2. In suburban Austintown City Schools, "job ready" for students apparently means "dressing for success". If that is the case, how on earth did it require $100K to get 41 students to that point of “readiness” and why is everyone so happy about it? By contrast, in nearby Youngstown, "job ready" means being able to read and do math at a proper level. And folks there continue to oppose efforts to get all kids to that point of “readiness”. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/5/18) Speaking of readiness, here’s another positive story about a dropout recovery charter school. 275 students graduated from Townsend Community School in far northern Ohio this week. 69 percent are going on to college, 24 percent are entering the workforce, and 7 percent enlisting into the military. That latter figure includes Montana Shears, currently on standby for the Marine Corps after what sounds like a harrowing time in his mid teens as he describes it. Congratulations and best wishes to him and to all of the Townsend grads. (Sandusky Register, 6/5/18) I cannot understand the outpouring of positivity for these schools in the local press around Ohio given all the negative rhetoric surrounding them at the state government level. Perhaps someone is mistaken?
     
  3. Lorain CEO David Hardy this week named the district’s new communications staffers, a formidable-sounding two person tag team that includes an experienced journalist and a former teacher (and NASA contractor!) who has also created a Cleveland-based nonprofit which gives competitive grants to help boost student access to extracurricular enrichment. Kinda wow. (Elyria Chronicle, 6/6/18)
     
  4. In tax abatement news: Lorain City Council this week approved a tax break for the construction of a gym to be used by a provider of services for students with autism. Regular Gadfly Bites subscribers (if you’re not one, why not?) will recall that this project generated some heated opposition which bubbled over at a previous council committee meeting. Hopefully the ridiculous amount of caveats put on the approval indicate that the council heard and heeded those objections; and hopefully it will be enough to silence the NIMBYs for a while. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/5/18) Things are not so rosy on the tax abatement front in Cincinnati, where the teachers union president has written a letter suggesting that city council knock it off. Supposedly, the schools are losing out on $8.4 million in tax revenue due to the city’s generosity to residential developers. (Thank goodness they specified residential, otherwise the euphoria over a certain recent football club announcement might look a little suspect.) Anywho, all this is really a preamble to renegotiation of a 10 year old agreement between city and district in which the city pays $5 million annually to help keep the district “in the fold” so to speak in regard to such abatements. So, really, that letter says “knock it off or pony up”. I’m sure either will be acceptable. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/5/18). Finally in tax break news for today, Columbus City Schools’ board of education is being pitched a crappy deal, and I think they know it. In exchange for a “guaranteed” boost in annual payments to the district (over the existing low-level use on the site), a developer is asking for a 30-year, 100 percent tax abatement for a huge new multiuse project. At a minimum, these locked-in payments are projected to give the district 43 cents on the dollar that it should get from a successful development of its type. If the property grows in value—also guaranteed given its scope and its proximity to Ohio State and to tony Upper Arlington—that difference will grow significantly. Of course, developer dude says without the abatement he won’t build it, so naturally board members seem willing to gamble. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/5/18)
     
  5. Culinary students at Jane Addams High School in Cleveland Metropolitan School District are today unveiling their “food bus”—a food truck operating out of a converted school bus and serving souped up versions of traditional cafeteria offerings. This is an outgrowth of the school’s restaurant, which also operates during the summer for students taking summer classes, and further opportunity for students to hone their skills for future careers. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/6/18)
 
 
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,