Happy New Year!
The year 2019 will be the start of many big plans ahead for the Bedford Schools! One major endeavor, planning for new schools, has hit a minor obstacle in that we have recently learned that we will not receive funding until (possibly) 2023-2024. If we were to build or renovate our buildings today, the state’s contribution would be 20%. We would have to also go out for a bond issue. We were pleased to see that 80% of the bond issues to build new schools across the state passed in November. In the upcoming months, we will work with Then Design, the board-approved architects, to help us determine a plan for the future. They will hold community forums, conduct a thorough review of the state’s report on our facilities, conduct their own walkthrough and analysis, and make recommendations accordingly. We are expected to have their report in early to mid-spring. That will be the catalyst for future discussions and planning. This is an exciting time regardless of the potential delay. I welcome you to become part of the planning process. Your input matters!
On another note, people have asked me what the educational landscape in Ohio will look like. As you are aware, we will have a new governor beginning in January. Though we don’t really know for sure, it appears that Governor-elect DeWine has a strong passion for children. I don’t believe he is a strong advocate of charter schools, the Academic Distress Commission, or the school report card-- issues that Governor Kasich covets. The House and Senate will once again try to introduce changes to the school report card and school funding under the new governor. We also believe that the report card will undergo some major changes. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the A-F system is removed and a new way to measure our schools is considered. Representatives Bob Cupp, R-Lima, and John Patterson, D-Jefferson, have introduced a bi-partisan bill that will address school funding. They have created a committee of school treasurers and superintendents to change the way in which we fund schools. I have seen what they have presented and not only is it a gallant effort, it has merit. The key will be convincing the governor to set aside the money it may potentially cost to rectify the imbalance and inequity in school funding.
Finally, some good news regarding the graduation requirements! The General Assembly took action during the legislative lame duck session to make graduation requirement allowances for the Classes of 2019 and 2020. The bill was signed by Governor Kasich.
Please know that the state’s superintendents continue to advocate and lobby for our students and our districts. The First Ring superintendents have joined forces with our mayors and congressional representatives to continue the fight in all the areas I mentioned previously. I am a part of numerous advocacy groups and will continue to represent the students and staff of Bedford Schools!
As we head into the wintry season, please keep your eyes and ears open for school closings. I hope we have a mild winter that allows us to be in school every day! Please know that making the decision to close schools is one of the toughest decisions I make, as I try to balance the safety of our students with the need to be in school. As always, the children’s safety comes first. Living in the community, I am afforded the opportunity to drive in the early hours of the morning to check the roads for myself. Let’s hope for safe roads and “warm” temperatures!
I wish you all happiness in the New Year and thank you again for your support of the Bedford City Schools.