COVINGTON — The Covington Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday evening to send a letter opposing the strict graduation requirements included in the Ohio House Bill 487.
The letter will be sent to the state school board members, the state superintendent, legislators in the Ohio House and Senate education committees, OSBA, BASA, and the media.
These new graduation requirements will go into effect for students who are currently juniors. The requirements will mandate that students must receive a certain number of points on their end-of-course exams along with getting the required number of course credits.
During previous meetings, the board heard how these new requirements could possibly double the number of students at risk of not graduating than they had with students who took Ohio Graduation Tests (OGTs). During Thursday’s meeting, Superintendent Gene Gooding said that an estimated 30 percent of juniors would be at risk of not graduating due to these standards.
Board President Dr. Dean Pond said the Ohio legislature is sending these graduation requirements to a committee to consider. Gooding said that while that was a positive step forward, Ohio legislators still did not vote to give the students any relief on the demands of these upcoming requirements.
“We’re one year away from their graduation,” Gooding said about the juniors who these requirements will affect. “We can’t just accept nothing being done.”
The letter signed by all of the board members and Gooding notes how their power at the local level to provide leadership and to impact their students’ educations has been “eroded by a legislature that has repeatedly implemented education mandates that are, simply put, harmful to the very children we are supposed to be protecting.”
They say that they successfully implemented those mandates, but called many of them a “colossal waste of valuable time, effort, and money.” They noted that if they had local control of those mandates that those educational practices would not have been utilized in Covington schools.
The letter warns of the damages of these graduation requirements, saying, “Make no mistake about it, because it is poorly conceived, House Bill 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 Unless this bill is repealed, thousands of innocent sutdents will suffer its consequences for the rest of their lives, because they will be deined a high school diploma.”
They note their faith in their schools and students, saying they have high expectations for them. They make their opposition to House Bill 487 clear, though, calling it a “draconian approach to educating children” and warning that, in its current form, it “will have a devastating impact” on students due to “unreasonable expectations.”
The end of the letter asks that House Bill 487 be repealed and replaced “with a law that makes sense and takes the best interests of our students to heart.”
The full letter can be viewed online at dailycall.com or troydailynews.com.
The board also accepted the resignation with regret of Project Manager Steve Miller. The board and Gooding only had praise for Miller, calling him a “fantastic project manager” and reiterating that they would not have the best possible new school building for Covington had it not been for Miller.
In addition, the board approved re-roofing at Covington High School. The contract was awarded to Cotterman & Company, Inc. to re-roof the FFA/shop area at a cost not to exceed $31,485.
In discussions about the connecting corridor between the high school and the K-8 building, the board looked at the costs of including the board offices in the corridor. For just the corridor, the estimated cost was $335,000; for the corridor and the board offices, the estimated cost was $601,000; and for the corridor, board offices, and extra storage or classroom space, the estimated cost was $638,000.
Board member Alex Reck was against spending the extra $266,000 to $303,000 to include the board offices and extra space. The other board members expressed interest in moving forward with the plan that included the board offices and extra storage or classroom space. Reck stated he thought there would be cheaper options available, including purchasing a house off campus. Other board members, including Mark Miller, noted that they thought those costs were bargain costs of getting the board’s office onsite at the schools and that there was a benefit to being on campus at the schools. Pond noted that a previous estimate for doing that had been $450,000.
The board decided to proceed with the plan to build the connecting corridor with the board offices and extra space in the corridor.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com or (937) 451-3336