Superintendents: Proposed school board changes not needed

By Lance Mihm - [email protected]

LIMA — Paulding Superintendent William Hanak perhaps described the feelings of local superintendents concerning a provision inserted into the state budget by Gov. John Kasich the best with one short sentence.

“I am not really sure how it would help,” he said.

During a Jan. 12 speech to the Columbus Partnership, Gov. Kasich announced a provision in the state budget proposal to add three non-voting, non-elected business people to each board of education in Ohio.

Taylor Britton, a public liaison with Kasich’s office, said the proposal was part of Kasich’s Workforce Transformation recommendations. Britton said the recommendation is intended to help connect students to internships and apprenticeships in order to expose and better prepare them for future careers. However, most area superintendents are viewing the proposal as just another mandate that is not needed.

“In my opinion this is once again someone in Columbus with a solution looking for a problem,” said Ottawa-Glandorf Superintendent Don Horstman.

Local superintendents agreed that they hope the provision will be worked out of the budget bill before it is passed.

Horstman said the district already has an excellent mix of individuals from different backgrounds and professions.

“We have four members who currently work in the private sector, with one is in sales, one in manufacturing, one in retail, and another working at a bank,” Horstman said. “Of those four, one is a former teacher with over 30 years of experience, and the other was a social worker for over 30 years. Our other member works for the local county board of developmental disabilities and has an extensive background in the education of children with special needs. Two of our board members also have direct family involvement in small business ownership through the operation of family farms.”

Jill Ackerman said the Lima school board already had a finance committee that served the same purpose that three new, non-elected, non-voting board members could.

“The group reviews district finances and offers feedback and suggestions to the board and school officials,” Ackerman said.

“In addition, the local business community is currently represented on our elected school board, including a local small business owner who is serving as president. Another member is in retail at the regional upper management level. The Lima school board has always been a diverse group of people from the community.”

Wapakoneta Superintendent Keith Horner felt the move would serve little or no purpose also. He said it is a smack to thousands of outstanding school board members across the state.

“I believe that this can be viewed from a couple of different perspectives,” Horner said. “The first is that it is an insult to the thousands of really good board members throughout the State of Ohio. To think that they are not reforming because they don’t want to is simply not accurate.

“The second perspective is that this could be good because he may listen to business leaders when the education system continues to remain the same and the reasons why it is difficult to reform.”

Horner said it is another mandate that allows for less innovation.

“The reason that schools look so much alike is that by the time we get done with our ‘have to’s,’ there are no resources for our ‘want to’s’ that would result in innovation,” Horner said.

Jackson Center Superintendent Bill Reichert agreed that there is no need for the change.

“My opinion is that the current state minimums and processes for electing board members are fine,” Reichert said. “This is just another example of how its tough for our state legislators and the governor to recognize that there are distinct differences between large and small school districts in the state as well as large and small communities. Many small districts have trouble filling the spots that currently exist, much less adding more. In all that we do as educators, we are asked to recognize the differences in the children that we serve, our representatives in Columbus and Washington sometimes struggle with that same premise.”

Horstman said it is best to leave things as they are.

“Our local residents have already chosen a diverse and excellent group of board members without any help from Gov. Kasich,” Horstman said. “The best place for a decision about who should be on our local board of education is right here in the Ottawa-Glandorf community, not 110 miles away at the Statehouse in Columbus.”

By Lance Mihm

[email protected]

Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm

Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm

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