Contact Us


Sign Up for Updates!

Richland Co. educators sound off on governor's plan

March 28, 2009:

Lou Whitmire
Mansfield News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Crestline Superintendent Dave Heflinger left Friday's education summit at Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center feeling positive about Gov. Ted Strickland's education reform plan.

Strickland is expected to sign the bill by June 30.

"Overall. I think it's a good plan," Heflinger said.

His biggest concern?

"There might be a need for different implementation timelines in different districts, based on financial circumstances," he said.

State Rep. Jay Goyal answered questions from about 20 people -- superintendents, board members and educators -- who attended the program.

Greg Nickoli, director of operations of Pioneer Career and Technology Center in Shelby, asked Goyal if school districts that grow more than 2 percent will receive additional funding, as was stated in the original plan. "Would there be any consideration for extending that to other types of districts, including Pioneer?" he asked.

Pioneer anticipates a 1.9-percent increase in funding for the coming school year, Nickoli said.

"Our issue is we are facing a pretty significant enrollment, as much as 11 percent for next school year for total enrollment. We're anticipating a very large junior class," he said.

Goyal said he couldn't answer that question, but said he would get back to Nickoli.

Buckeye Central Superintendent Ron Cirata said smaller districts have concerns with the program.

"There's a lot of good things in it, but there also are some tweaks in it that need to be made for districts such as Buckeye Central. We are participating in the Ohio School Facilities Commission) program, which has been great for our district. We're getting a brand new K-12 facility that was funded $18 million state funding and $7 million local share," Cirata said. "We'll get into that building next fall. But we just want to keep a close eye on the governor's proposal.

"I think communication has been a great issue with the new governor going around and listening to the concerns of the educational constituents. We need to continue those conversations," Cirata said.

Goyal addressed questions about extending the school year and calculating transportation costs. At meeting's end, he solicited evaluations of the education reform plan.

"Has there been significant improvements, moderate improvements or is the plan worse?" he asked.

Ontario Superintendent Daryl Hall told Goyal educators won't know the answer for a few years. He said they don't have enough information to make an evaluation.

"The answer will come down the road. School funding is flawed, but it's been nice to have schools included (in the discussion)," he said.