Hilliard Northwest News

School choice

Hilliard board skeptical of governor's plan

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Hilliard school board members approved a resolution April 8 at the request of Superintendent Dale McVey opposing an initiative of Ohio Gov. John Kasich that would expand the use of publicly funded school vouchers.

Board members adopted the resolution in a 3-1 vote. Paul Lambert dissented and Heather Keck was absent.

"At its core, it's public dollars being used for private uses," McVey said of the governor's initiative through House Bill 59 to expand the Educational Choice Scholarship Program that allows students in under-performing school districts to attend private or parochial schools.

McVey criticized the "track record" of the Educational Choice Scholarship Program.

"Their oversight is woeful (and) their checks and balances are woeful," said McVey, citing instances where special-needs students returned to public districts because the program did not adequately match their needs with available resources.

Board members Andy Teater and Lisa Whiting concurred with McVey's assessment and opinion.

"School choice is a good sound bite, but it hasn't been a success," Teater said.

Lambert said he supported Kasich's effort and voted against the resolution.

"Not all kids are fortunate enough to live in Hilliard," Lambert said.

He said the governor's policy "was not a threat" to Hilliard but provided students in poverty-stricken districts and low-performing districts a chance to excel elsewhere.

"(Opposing this effort) denies them a chance at a good education," Lambert said in advance of his lone vote against the resolution.

In other business April 8, board members approved the findings of an advisory committee concerning athletics sustainability.

The changes include contracting with OhioHealth for athletics trainers and reducing the number of athletics directors and coordinators at the high school and middle school levels.

Effective next school year, the changes should save the school about $500,000, Assistant Superintendent Tim Hamilton said.

The district currently has three athletics directors, three assistant directors and three coordinators. Each of the district's three high schools currently has a director and an assistant director and each of the three middle schools has a coordinator.

Next year, the district will eliminate the assistant director positions and each high school and its corresponding middle school will have the same director and coordinator working together.

The change is possible, district spokeswoman Amanda Morris said, because the district recently changed its boundaries in such a way that each middle school feeds the same high school, making it feasible to have one athletics staff for grades 7-12.

In addition, the staff members who will no longer be trainers because of the OhioHealth contract will return to full-time teaching or are eligible to apply to work for OhioHealth as contracted trainers, Morris said.

Board members also took action concerning several capital improvement projects, approving legislation authorizing the district to solicit bids for roof replacement at Alton Darby Elementary School and paving installations at Beacon, Brown and Hilliard Crossing elementary schools, Heritage Middle School and several support-services locations.

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