April 24, 2014

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Keystone district stands pat on school schedule

LAGRANGE — Keystone students won’t have to miss the Lorain County Fair this summer, but some teachers weren’t happy with the Board of Education’s decision to keep the district’s original calendar.

Jennifer Wooten, president of the Keystone Local Education Association, said most of the teachers, who voted in favor of starting school early to prepare for new state-mandated tests, were disappointed in the decision.

David Kish, director of curriculum and instruction for Keystone schools, speaks at the Keystone school board meeting on Feb. 10. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

David Kish, director of curriculum and instruction for Keystone schools, speaks at the Keystone school board meeting on Feb. 10. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

“Despite concessions made by Keystone Local Education Association to compromise with concerned community members regarding the school calendar, the board has unfortunately chosen to start school following the conclusion of the Lorain County Fair. Even though educationally sound reasoning was presented, the school board made the decision to ignore the voices of the majority of those who represent the high-quality education of the children in our community,” read a statement she issued after the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night. “The only compromise that fair members would have accepted was no compromise at all.”

Although more than 73 percent of the Keystone Local Education Association voted in favor of starting the school year early — a proposal made by Curriculum Director David Kish in response to the Next Generation Assessments that begin next year — parents of students involved in 4-H were upset over the thought of their children missing the Lorain County Fair.

Those parents said the fair also offers valuable learning opportunities, as well as a chance for family to spend time together before the start of school.

Kish’s proposal would have had students starting two days before the Lorain County Fair, with two days off on Monday and Tuesday for all students, although 4-H students would be excused during the week.

The Board of Education also stood divided on the issue but decided a unified decision was best, voting unanimously to adopt the calendar that Keystone has always had — starting classes the Tuesday after the fair.

“Those of us who did maybe agree to changing the calendar this year, agreed to disagree,” said board member Renee Mezera.

Board member Patricia Wakefield said that while the issue sparked debate, it was also positive.

“Both sides were passionate, and everybody had good points, but there is a positive thing that came out of all this hoopla, or whatever it is you want to call it,” she said. “It got people talking and discussing and trying to find some common ground, and we haven’t had that in a long time over an issue.”

Superintendent Jay Arbaugh said he took responsibility for some of the controversy surrounding the issue. He asked Kish to look at calendar options after learning that the Next Generation Assessments, developed by the state of Ohio and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, would be more lengthy and difficult than tests traditionally given to students.

The tests were developed by the state in an effort to bridge the gap in education levels among states, according to the Ohio Department of Education, who has said Ohio students are testing well below students in other states.

“As superintendent I take full responsibility for the discussion with the calendar that has been the focus of so much interest over the past couple weeks. I asked Mr. Kish, as curriculum director, because of the accelerated calendar and the testing schedule, to take a look at options that would possibly help us prepare kids better … It was just an idea,” he said. “So, I guess, I’m a little disappointed that he had to be berated, because it’s just an idea. And it’s a good idea.”

Arbaugh said he hopes that the community can come together to help pass a levy in May, which would be dedicated to operating costs of the district. He said, while the original calendar was chosen this year, there may be some discussion on next year’s calendar, although the fair is scheduled to start later in the month in 2015.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

  • Brian_Reinhardt

    The teachers forget they work for and are governed by an elected body. That body is held accountable by the citizens who vote and pay their salaries.

    Remember teachers and school boards. They’re not “your” schools…they’re ours.

  • Jennifer Williams

    I cannot believe they would even think about starting early I started school in 1994 in Keystone and from that point on we always looked forward to the “Fair Week” and it was the last big thing before we all went back to school. I would feel bad if my daughter was not able to enjoy it as I did. This is a part of growing up in Lagrange.

  • tmc

    I am just disappointed by how they thought of the students and community opinion last. Who do they think they work for? This whole Common Core program has been nothing but negative for our children and our community. I am just amazed how the school is so quick to expect support from the community for levies yet we are a second thought when it comes to the education program and major changes such as the calender. It is highly disappointing and will be a BIG factor in the future elections.

  • Bill Suggs

    Really? Both sides of this discussion claimed their side was in the best interest of kids, so now the person on the “side” that got their way is gloating and saying how dare they even think of changing, and the person on the other “side” is now threatening to hold it over the districts head. AMAZING. Move on people. A decision was made. Live with it. If you truly believe you have the kids interest at heart quit using the same old tired argument to hold it against the school who is doing what’s best for kids. News flash. The state, common core and testing aren’t helping local districts in any way, shape or form. Turning on each other to argue about it instead of taking it up with the root cause of all this – the State of Ohio, and their ridiculous policies on education – is exactly what the politicians in Columbus want you to do to deflect the attention from the poor job they are doing on behalf of the kids in Ohio. WAKE UP!

  • disqus_ty5Hal5rAc

    the whole idea of starting the school year early isn’t that bad of an idea. Not all of the student body participates in the fair doing productive things and to say “but that’s not fair my kid will miss out on going to the fair,it’s tradition” is a completely invalid statement. going to the fair to hang out wont better them in anyway and is just a “money suck” if you’re not actively involved in the fair that is.that deal sounds pretty good honestly, and extra time isnt a bad thing with these new tests. as a recent graduate I can see where college exams would have gone over alot of heads pretty quickly.luckily most of my teachers at keystone were awesome ( like the science department) so I never felt behind others at college but I could have used a much better ACT score overall for more scholarship money and that’s why starting classes early is probably really good for the students. and if it’s really that big of a deal that your kid can’t go to fair and walk around in circles with their friends ( like they didnt have all summer to)boo hoo. I only feel bad the ones who are actively in the fair wont get all the time they had had in the past

  • SniperFire

    They are just talking about a few days here. Start Monday instead of Tuesday after the fair, and take fewer days off in the middle. Problem solved.

  • Uncle Joe

    The argument isn’t 100% about “missing the fair”. For those that have followed this story since conception, you understand that. The proposed change in schedule, which now has been established came from the teachers, was flawed from day one. There were never any solutions to getting 4H participants caught up on work missed by time out for the fair. There was also NO compromise. Again, those attending meetings and following this situation now know it was the teachers way or the highway. There were many options available to those that conceived this plan. Fortunately the School Board recognized this and saw the damage such a ill conceived plan was causing; and it was only going to get worse.

    Kudos to the board for this and to the Superintendent for owning up to responsibility. I suggest you build on yesterday’s decision and include parents and teachers in a strategic group to find future solutions that share common ground.

    • Sis Delish

      Members of the Teacher’s Union could learn alot from Members of 4-H and the folks who run the very successful Lorain County Fair. But, they are more concerned with being an Educator vs. a Learner, and therein lies the entire problem with the education system as it stands today. Teacher’s cannot see the world through any other Lens than that of the Teacher’s Union/Association, period. In a strict compromise, may I suggest disgruntled educators who didn’t get their way, be introduced to slopping the Pig or Cow barns during the 3rd week of August in Wellington. Afterall, the amount of animal waste spewed by the Unions could be accurately measured against the real thing, but only if one of the participants manages to fanagle Grant Money to do the study… blah, blah, blah…

  • Sis Delish

    Cows & Pigs 1, Teacher’s Union 0