Reynoldsburg City Schools became the first K-12 district to commit to the Central Ohio Compact last week.

Reynoldsburg City Schools became the first K-12 district to commit to the Central Ohio Compact last week.

School board members signed a resolution concerning the compact at their Sept. 18 meeting.

The Central Ohio Compact is a regional strategy that grew from Lumina Foundation educational goals and the Columbus2020 initiative, Superintendent Steve Dackin said.

"The compact is the educational response to how we can respond to the goals of Columbus2020," he said.

He said the agreement among school districts, career technical centers, colleges and universities has a big goal -- that "60 percent of the region's adults will have earned a post-secondary certificate or degree by 2025."

He said that percentage is now about 44 percent.

"The first thing we can do to contribute to that goal is to make sure kids graduate from high school with the skills to enter into the workforce or enter into a college," he said.

Dackin said signing the resolution aligns with current goals and initiatives in the Reynoldsburg district.

"We are already doing some of the things in the compact, with our relationship to Columbus State Community College," he said. "The compact is not a binding agreement and there is no requirement that the board participate, but a way for schools to commit to a course of action that would result in adults obtaining some kind of secondary certificate or degree beyond high school."

Columbus State Community College opened a regional learning center this fall in Reynoldsburg City School's Bell Academy on the Livingston Avenue high school campus, offering classes for college credit to Reynoldsburg students.

The learning center will be open to other students and adults in January.

Dackin said the basis for the compact is that a partnership of school districts, higher learning institutions, area businesses and civic leaders will work to develop the region's talent pool into a globally competitive workforce.

"There are several drivers," he said. "Obviously, jobs are first and foremost."

He said unemployment rates in Ohio decrease as students and adults attain degrees beyond high school. Adults with less than a high school degree have a 14.6 percent unemployment rate, while adults who earn at least an associate degree are at 6.8 percent unemployment, according to Dackin.

"Central Ohio is in a unique position on the educational side," he said. "We are the second-largest in the country per capita for educational opportunities."

Dackin said representatives from most central Ohio school districts have attended summits to learn more about the compact.

"The next step is for boards of trustees and boards of education to commit to this cooperative effort," he said.

He said creating opportunities for students to earn college credit while still in high school aligns with the compact goals and ultimately helps reduce the burden on taxpayers.

"Our agreement with Columbus State helps to reduce our costs by sharing resources and creating more opportunities for our students and ultimately postpones our going back to the taxpayers for more operating money," he said. "If we, as a region, can think of how to leverage those shared opportunities, we can increase the benefits to our workforce and our taxpayers."

Goals of the compact also include opening and expanding educational opportunities for adults who need to obtain higher degrees to succeed in getting better jobs or who want to make the transition to new careers.

More about the Central Ohio Compact is available on the Reynoldsburg schools website, by clicking on the agenda documents under "superintendent" at Board.nsf/Public.