School board hears about community school plans

EAST LIVERPOOL – Although no action was taken, the city school board Monday night listened to a presentation about implementing a community school within the district.

Representatives from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, Dr. Chuck Kokiko and George Ash, addressed the board, saying if it wants to implement such a program for the next school year, a facility lease would have to be in place by February and a contract by March, according to state law.

The school would then have to open no later than Sept. 30, Kokiko said.

The community school would offer an individualized curriculum suited to the needs of each student, with at least 25 students required to open. Although a community school can be geared to kindergarten through 12th grade, the city school board has been considering implementing it in grades 6-12.

The school would require a minimum of 50 percent “seat time” on location, with the remaining classwork done online, according to Kokiko, who said hours would be flexible and could be 24/7.

The district is currently receiving $698,000 from open enrollment students but losing $2.3 million to other schools through open enrollment and other types of community schools, Kokiko said, saying, “The goal is cost containment. We’d like to get those kids back.”

The board did not offer any comment on the proposal.

Superintendent James Herring read a letter from the Ohio Department of Education noting that the district had improved from “high support” status to “low support,” saying that students are improving academically and teachers are using new technology.

Herring also presented each board member with a plaque in honor of School Board Appreciation Month, saying, “They are trying to lead the district to success.”

Member Brian Allen assumed his seat for the first time after being elected in November, while members Scott Dieringer and Bob Estell both have served six years, board President Janice Martin, 7.25 years and member Larry Walton, eight years.

Treasurer Todd Puster also reported that the state auditor has awarded the district for the second consecutive year for its clean audits, giving credit to all those who handle money in the district.

During the organizational portion of the meeting, Martin was re-elected as board president and Estell as vice-president, and members’ compensation was set at $125 per meeting for a maximum of 24 meetings per year.

The board also approved other annual issues such as hiring legal counsel; renewing memberships; authorizing the treasurer to handle normal fiscal matters; and the superintendent to handle routine personnel issues.

An executive session was requested by Allen to discuss discipline and dismissal, but the board returned after nearly an hour, making no comment and taking no action.