Flexibility in revised budget bill a hopeful sign

The 2008-09 school year has presented quite a confluence of variables affecting the Oakwood Schools. In the fall, the Board of Education embarked on an initiative to define our Educational Plan for 2010-2023. Simultaneously, the economy compelled the Board to make reductions in operational expenses this fiscal year and restructure some positions/programs for 2009-2010. Meanwhile, the Governor’s proposal for transforming Ohio’s public education system was released and House Bill I was created. A week ago, the legislature released information on a substitute budget bill and continues to tweak the funding formula intended to rectify the state’s current unconstitutional school funding system.

There is no question that, in these unprecedented times, leadership at all levels of public education is a necessity and an understanding of which decisions are best made at each level is imperative. For example, the General Assembly is constitutionally responsible for “… (securing) a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state…” while Boards of Education are elected by the local citizenry to provide oversight to thecommunity’s public schools.

At first read, Substitute House Bill 1 appears to provide some flexibility in implementation that was not incorporated in the original proposal. The first iteration of the Governor’s education reform proposal advocated a one-size-fits-all approach to reform components. In last week’s announced legislative changes, the press release from the Office of House Speaker Armond Budish stated:

“Critical to a sound school funding formula is allowing flexibility to encourage success, accountability to ensure results, and preserving local control. The legislative changes will give most flexibility to academically successful districts, while directing low-performing districts to make key reforms.”

The devil is in the details, of course, but requiring accountability through the proper exercise of local control seems logical and respectful of citizens who are called upon to support school levies. As in the original proposal, Substitute House Bill 1 does not provide Oakwood with an increase in our state funding in FY 2010, and cuts our funding by two percent in FY 2011.

The Oakwood School District has earned the state’s Excellent with Distinction rating, but more to the point, the Oakwood community expects its schools to commit the resources, support, expertise, and experiences needed for all students to achieve as citizens of the 21st century. Legislated mandates that do not help us achieve this goal impede us from achieving this goal. The flexibility language in the revised budget bill is a hopeful sign that, without additional state money, our Board’s Educational Plan for 2010-2023 will not be derailed by unfunded mandates.

Yarger named First School communications director

Oakwood resident Stacey Yarger has accepted the position of Director of Communications at First School in Washington Township. She will be responsible for handling all internal and external communications and public relations as well as admissions and enrollments.

First School was formed by two Oakwood natives in 1971 as an early learning center for pre-school and Kindergarten children, ages 2? -6, conceived and built to promote the maximum development and education of each child within the scope of their interests and capabilities.

An Open House is planned for Wednesday, May 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. Parents and children may tour the school and meet the director and teachers. The school is located at 7659 McEwen Rd.

First School Open House May 6

First School of Washington Township will host an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday May 6. Parents and children may tour the school and meet the director and teachers. The school is located at 7659 McEwen Road.

Since 1971 First School has been an early learning center for preschool and Kindergarten children, ages 2 to 6, conceived and built to promote the maximum development and education of each child within the scope of his or her interests and capabilities.

For more information call Stacey Yarger at 433-3455 or visit

May is month to honor teachers

The month of May has become a time when our nation is urged to take the time to let a teacher/educator or two know how much their efforts on our behalf are valued and appreciated. Too often all of us are very quick to express our upset or anger but far too slow to let others know when they are remembered for their efforts on behalf of a child and/or a family.

This is the time to write that short note or letter to someone who has played a significant role in our life. I urge us all to think back in our own past as well as to think about even just this current school year. We may need to do a bit of extra work to find a current address for that special teacher but it will be worth it for sure!

The teachers of our nation have for decades dipped into their own meager salaries to fund special materials and learning opportunities for their own students. They have subsidized the state and local tax efforts even though too often their pay has been less than that for folks in other fields who have even less formal education to their credit.

These are the same professionals who work long days interacting and interfacing with dozens of children and then spend their own time to make specific plans to help a particular child find success, to grade papers with very personal marks and encouraging comments, and to communicate with parents/caregivers to form a powerful team of adults working on behalf of a specific youth. Too often we tend to forget about such dedication to our children and community.

That note or e-mail of appreciation does not have to be lengthy, but if it is heartfelt and gives even tiny examples of actions that made a difference, I can promise that it will brighten that educator’s day. It could even be a family project in which EACH member thinks back to a teacher or educator who has made a difference and then writes that short note.

I have at least a half-dozen people who will receive a note from me. What will your number be?

3 teachers nominated for Andrews Hall of Honor

Three people have been nominated or renominated for the Sam Andrews Educational Hall of Honor. These nominees were teachers that have been retired from employment for at least three years. At this time, we are requesting members of the community, former students, and colleagues to send letters of support for the nominee(s) of their choice.

Please send letters no later than May 22, 2009 to Dr. Mary Jo Scalzo, Superintendent, Oakwood Board of Education, 20 Rubicon Road, Dayton, Ohio 45409, or via email at scalzo.maryjo@oakwood.k12.oh.us.

The induction ceremony will be held on Thurs., Sept. 17, 2009. The public is invited to attend.

New Nominees This Year (Nominees previously on list are still eligible)

Pamela Lahman Harman Elementary School Teacher 1973-1981
Smith School Teacher 1981-2003

Dolores Barnes Smith Elementary School Teacher (1951-1955)
Oakwood Junior High School Tutor (1976-1980)
Harman Elementary School Tutor/Teacher (1980-1988)

Lester Steinlage Oakwood High School Math Teacher (1972-1995)

For additional information, please contact Sandy Maresh at the Oakwood Board of Education, (937) 297-5332 or maresh. sandy@oakwood.k12.oh.us. We look forward to your letters of support for your nominee. Please respond by May 22, 2009

Kindergarten registrations underway

Children who will be five years old on or before Sept 30, 2009, may be registered for kindergarten. Children who will be five years old between Oct. 1, 2009 and Jan. 1, 2010, may be considered for early entrance. Parents interested in early entrance may contact Lange School at 299-8730 to request an application and testing information. Children referred for early entrance should participate in Kindergarten Screening.

It is important to note that state law makes Kindergarten a mandatory prerequisite for first grade. All first graders must have successfully completed Kindergarten.

Furthermore, state law requires that all entering Kindergarten students be screened for hearing, vision, speech and communication, health or medical problems and for developmental disorders.


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April 28, 2009
Volume 18, No. 17

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