Wellsville BOE stands behind SB 216

WELLSVILLE — The Wellsville Board of Education has thrown its support behind a bill in the state Senate to increase efficiency and effectiveness in education throughout Ohio.

During Monday’s meeting, the board approved a resolution in support of Ohio Senate Bill 216, which would make changes to state law regarding continuing contracts for non-teaching employees, teacher licensure and evaluation, aide permits, student testing and the college credit plus program.

Also known as the Ohio Public School Deregulation Act, the bill addresses several issues, which have included the process for hiring high-quality teachers, changing the testing procedures, and restoring rights for parents as well as enforcement abilities for school districts.

Superintendent Richard Bereschik said that superintendents throughout Columbiana County sent a joint letter to the legislature, to which is also called the “common sense education bill.”

“It helps to deregulate a lot of things that have crippled small districts like ourselves,” Bereschik said.

One example he provided was one teacher who teaches math in grades 7-12, but is not certified to teach sixth graders, which causes confusion and limits school districts from being able to move teachers around wherever need be.

“They have us so pigeon-holed as to what levels you can teach at, and then in the small system where we need people to fluctuate from, maybe, building to building, we need to use them to the best of our advantage, you can’t do it,” Bereschik said. “So this takes away a lot of the regulations that really stifle education.

“We have a hard time getting paraprofessionals. First off, it doesn’t pay a lot. Secondly, the hoops you have to jump through to become a paraprofessional, when a lot of times, what you need is to be a good person, have common sense and care about kids, and be willing to work hard within the schools.”

According to the resolution, the board recognized an increasing burden of state-mandated regulations on the station’s public schools, felt that many regulations–that should go towards teaching and learning–instead waste the system’s time and money, and call for a collaborative effort with elected officials to discuss the problems with these regulations in question.

The bill points out six particular areas, with those being Teacher Licensure and Aide Permits, Ohio Teacher Evaluation Systems, State Testing/Student Assessment, Student Management and Safety, College Credit Plus and Preschool Operating Standards.

Regarding teacher licensure, it eliminates the long-term substitute license and establishes a single substitute license, consolidates all teacher licenses into either K-8 or 6-12, requires permits only for aides working in federally funded programs, and eliminates permit requirements for substitute aides and monitors.

For evaluation systems, it will remove student growth measure from teacher evaluation, and instead implement recommendations of the Educator Standards Board.

Regarding testing, it would maintain a size of 30 for subgroup inclusion on accountability and reporting, eliminate state-mandated disgnostic testing for kindergarten and K-3 literacy for all districts with an 80 percent or higher pass rate on the third grade reading guarantee, allow the option ot use paper tests on all state assessments for students in grades 3-5 while providing an optional online test for each individual student, requiring AIR to provide an item analysis tying questions to standards for all tested subjects, and requires AIR to provide more information and preparatory materials to all districts on assessments.

As for safety, the bill does not excused absences towards truancy, and will consolidate reporting requirements of all safety mandates into a single report to be filed annually after each academic year and will be distributed and monitored by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).

Regarding College Credit Plus (CCP), it requires students to take those courses at the district school if offered by both the district and the corresponding college/university, gives student permission through superintendent to enroll in a similar course at the school or online if the class if overenrolled, requires a 50-50 split on payment of textbooks between the parents and the school district (district will cover all costs for economically disadvantaged students, while home-school students must handle all costs), and requires the ODE to analyze and issue reports regarding results and cost-effectiveness for students/districts of the program.

As for preschool standards, it would establish a ration of one teacher to eight students for those of age three, and a 1 to 12 ratio for students at age four.

The bill itself was introduced last month by State. Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), and awaits a vote from the senate.