Slate Hill students may spend 1.39 fewer days in school next year to allow their teachers to learn how to implement the International Baccalaureate program.

Slate Hill students may spend 1.39 fewer days in school next year to allow their teachers to learn how to implement the International Baccalaureate program.

The Worthington Board of Education voted 4-1 on Monday to request a waiver from the Ohio Department of Education's requirement that the school year at each school be 182 days.

Marc Schare cast the only "no" vote, but most of the other board members said they were reluctant to approve the reduction in the number of days teachers have contact with students.

"Professional development is great, but does it have to come at the expense of student contact time?" asked board member Julie Keegan.

Board members Jennifer Best, David Bressman, and Charlie Wilson said they deferred to the support of the administration. Both Superintendent of Schools Melissa Conrath and elementary education director Mark Glasbrenner said they supported the resolution.

"It isn't like it is lost time that won't be recouped at some time in student achievement," Glasbrenner said.

IB is an international education program that emphasizes inquiry-based, interdisciplinary learning. Plans call for the program to be phased in over the next five years at Slate Hill.

The program will come at a cost to the district, since the program requires that a foreign language be taught at each grade level and that the program be administered by an IB coordinator.

Funds for those positions are expected to be included in a tax request expected to go before voters next year.

Besides the staff development being planned for the coming school year, ten Slate Hill teachers will receive IB training in Austin, Tex., in July.

Glasbrenner supplied ThisWeek with a breakdown of the cost of IB teacher training. According to his figures, the total will be $25,721. The Slate Hill PTA staff development funds will pay for $3,000, with taxpayers footing the rest of the bill.

Also on Monday, the board hired Mary Rykowski to be the new principal of Evening Street Elementary School and Julie King to be assistant principal at Thomas Worthington High School. Both are principals in the Hilliard school system.

Rykowski's salary will be $96,115. King's salary will be $88,508.

The board also approved the hiring of Scott Gordon as dean of students at Thomas Worthington.

Gordon is the school's varsity football coach. Last year, his first as coach, he taught at Whitehall High School.

His hiring has caused some controversy because Thomas Worthington principal Jim Gaskins asked Marilyn Hamilton to step down from the dean's position.

Hamilton, 58, plans to retire at the end of the 2008-09 school year, but did not want to take another position so that the principal could hire the football coach. She has worked at TWHS since 1989 and has been the dean of students for the past four years.

She said she was a victim of age discrimination, but Gaskill said the move was part of his plan to build a new administrative team at the high school.

Hamilton has accepted a teaching position at the high school.

Following the board meeting, Best, who is board president, said the board had discussed the situation with Gaskill during a closed session.

"We are satisfied, we are okay with it,' she said.

Also on Monday, no one showed up to provide input on the retire/rehire of Liberty principal Jim Baker, Evening Street teacher Sharon Chadwell, or Worthington Kilbourne teachers Beverly Graves and Robert Lee.

The state requires the board to hold public hearings when a teacher or administrator requests to require and be rehired by the district.

The board will vote on the four re-employments on July 9.

cbrooks@thisweeknews.com