October 4, 2011
LIMA — Three area community school sponsors won’t be allowed to open additional schools for at least a year under a new provision of state law. Upper Scioto Valley and Van Wert schools, and the Hardin County Educational Service Center are among nine community school sponsors to face the sanction. Each local entity only currently has one school. Under House Bill 153, sponsors of community schools are now ranked based upon a calculated Performance Index score. The sponsor’s PI score represents the grouped PI scores of their community schools. Sponsors in the bottom 20 percent of the list are prohibited from adding more schools. A total of 47 sponsors are on the ranking list. Van Wert schools sponsors Lifelinks Community School, which opened in 2010. It is ranked 43rd, with a 57.5 PI. The school for middle and high school students at risk of not graduating has a vocational, service learning and project-based focus. Superintendent Ken Amstutz said officials knew it might end up on the list. “Each year we will get better and better, understanding that it is still not going to be perfect because the reason they are here is they are not perfect to begin with. It is a catch 22,” he said.The school has about 50 students. The school had a state grant for a year of planning and two years of operation, but funding has been cut. The school district doesn’t have any plans to sponsor another school. Upper Scioto Valley schools is ranked 40th with a 67.5 PI. The school opened the USV Wind/Energy Academy in 2009. The Hardin County Educational Service Center’s PI is 45, ranking it 46th.The Ohio Department of Education will provide technical assistance and guidance to school sponsors that request it. Sponsors can become eligible to add new schools if they move out of the bottom 20 percent category when the next rating list is published in October 2012.“Our expectation is that sponsors will provide as much attention as necessary to improve the performance of these schools so that students have an opportunity for a quality education,” said state Superintendent Stan Heffner. “Community schools provide important options for students and families, so we want to make sure they are strong options.”Lima schools, which sponsors the West Central Learning Academy, is ranked 14. It’s PI is 87.3. The Lucas County Educational Service Center, which sponsors Quest Academy, Heir Force Community School and 35 other schools, is ranked 18th, with a PI of 85.3. The highest index is 105.8.Other sponsors being sanctioned include Marion City, Rittman, Mansfield and Ridgedale schools, Richland Academy and the Portage County Educational Service Center. The PI ranking is not applicable to community schools that specialize in helping students who had previously dropped out or those that serve pupils with disabilities. Those include the Auglaize County Educational Service Center and Findlay schools. There are currently 69 sponsors and 354 community schools in Ohio. Sponsors are required to provide technical assistance and monitoring compliance of their schools, including oversight of academic performance.You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.