By: Timothy Kays
The room was abuzz as the Fayette Local Board of Education convened in regular session on the evening of December 11.
District Superintendent Erik Belcher reported that the Fayette Local School District, along with a consortium of fifteen other school districts in Northwest Ohio, have been selected to receive a portion of the substantial Straight A Fund Grant. Signed into law by Governor Kasich, this $250 million fund is designed to help schools innovate, streamline and become more efficient and effective in the education of Ohio students. The Fayette Virtual Academy is an example of the innovative process that the Grant singled out. $3.4 million of the fund has been earmarked in a grant for the 14,000 students of the sixteen school districts of the consortium, who locally along with Fayette includes the Stryker Local, Wauseon Exempted Village, Edon Northwest Local, Evergreen Local, Pike-Delta-York Local, Archbold Local and Edgerton Local School districts, as well as the Four County Career Center.
Mr. Belcher will be in Columbus on December 16 to witness the final approval of the State Controlling Board. On December 17, representatives of the sixteen consortium schools will meet with State Superintendent Richard Ross at Swanton High School to officially award the $3.4 million slice of the Straight A Fund Grant to the consortium.
The history of the process to attain the Grant funding was detailed by Mr. Belcher, who said that the, “…Fayette Local School, in a consortium effort with 15 districts in Fulton, Defiance, Henry, Paulding, and Williams County, wrote an innovative Straight A Fund Proposal for $3,402,120 which will impact 14,000 students in Northwest Ohio. We received word on Friday, December 6th, 2013 in a phone conversation with State Superintendent Richard Ross that we have been chosen to receive Straight A Funds pending approval by the State Controlling Board which will meet on Monday, December 16th, 2013. The funding of this grant is critical for local districts in Northwest Ohio, as we begin the transition of working together in an online setting to provide more opportunities to the students within and outside of our respective districts. This virtual learning component, along with the traditional approach to education, will create an innovative learning environment.”
Mr. Belcher then detailed the steps that were taken, stating, “This process began in September of 2013 where Superintendents from Northwestern Ohio were invited to participate in this innovative idea at Fayette Local School. Through this meeting, 16 districts began this journey together to improve how we educate our students.”
The screening process in Columbus was stringent. According to Mr. Belcher, “Each grant application was first rated by three of approximately 230 independent fiscal scorers selected by the Department of Administrative Services who helped determine if applicants’ ideas were fiscally sustainable. From the original pool of 570 applications, 359 were approved as sustainable and promoted to the next step of the rating process. Each application was then rated by three of approximately 230 independent programmatic scorers selected by the Department of Administrative Services to determine if the proposal was innovative, had substantial value and lasting impact.”
The whittling down process was far from over though, as Mr. Belcher added, “After this programmatic review, the scores were reviewed by grant advisors. The approximately 30 grant advisors – professional educators and community and corporate leaders approved by the Governing Board – issued a recommendation of the highest quality applications to the Governing Board who made the final recommendations. Only 4.2% of all submitted grants were funded. The State Controlling Board must give final approval before funds are distributed.”
The bottom line is that many of the small school districts of our area, those whose financial challenges tend to be the most daunting, will be receiving a huge shot in the arm at a time when it is needed the most. “$3.4 million coming into Northwestern Ohio,” said Mr. Belcher; “…that’s good for the economy. That’s good for the people.”
In financial matters, the Board approved several donations, including…
· $949.00 from Fayette PTO to purchase a Mac Apple laptop to globally program district’s Ipads.
· $250.00 from the Christian Church of Disciples to supply winter essentials for students.
· $801.50 from the Fayette Foundation to purchase two Wireless Microphones and an audio music snake cable.
· $234.00 from True North Church to pay for reduced lunches for students during the month of December 2013.
· $300 from the Fulton County Pork Producers for the Family Consumer Science Classes.
· $700 from the Fulton County Pork Producers for the Fayette FFA
· $135.00 from an anonymous donor to pay for the Veteran’s Day breakfast to honor area veterans.
The Board moved to approve the changes to the High School Curriculum Guide for fiscal year 2014-15, and in staffing items the Board moved to accept the resignation of Wendy Adams effective December 2, 2013 as an employee for transportation and cafeteria. Also approved were Beverly Figgins as a substitute custodian pending appropriate background and reference checks; Mary Bird as a substitute teacher for fiscal year 2014, and Mitch Schaffner as a volunteer Boys Varsity Coach for fiscal year 2014 pending appropriate background checks. Pending appropriate background and reference checks, the Board also approved Doris Cuff and Dereck Perryman as bus drivers, and Michael Slyker as a van driver.
The Board approved the district joining the consortium of sixteen districts to administrator the Straight A funding Grant for fiscal year 2014, and approved naming Kathleen Fix to the Normal Memorial Library Board of Trustees beginning January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2020.
In preparation for the 2014 reorganization of the Board, Kirk Keiser was named as President Pro-Tem for the reorganizational meeting, which is scheduled to take place on January 13 at 6:45 pm, with the regular session to immediately follow.
Prior to adjournment, Board President Keiser recognized Board members Debra Leininger, Pamela Seiler and Trent Dominique for their service to the District in their final meeting as members of the Board.
Timothy Kays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org