COVINGTON — Superintendent Gene Gooding took standing up for his students to the Ohio Statehouse this week, participating in a protest involving other state administrators and superintendents in regard to new graduation requirements.
Gooding discussed the peaceful protest during Covington’s Board of Education meeting Thursday evening, saying how the 300-plus administrators and educators who attended the protest were advocating for the state legislature to work with them on fixing this issue rather than continuing with legislation that may harm their students.
“The response from the State Board of Education has been less than great since we had that protest,” Gooding said, adding that the State Board of Education even came out and called the educators’ effort “a protest for mediocrity.”
“I think the legislators are really ready to listen. I don’t know if the State Board of Education is ready to listen or not, and I don’t think it’s going to matter … I think the legislators are listening,” Gooding said.
These new graduation requirements will go into effect with students who are currently juniors. The state’s graduation requirements will mandate that students must receive a certain number of points on their end-of-course exams along with getting the required number of course credits.
During their last meeting in October, the board heard how these new requirements could possibly double the number of students at risk of not graduating than they had with students who took Ohio Graduation Tests (OGTs).
Gooding said later in the meeting that he is looking at drafting a letter to the state legislature about their concerns for the board to approve with a resolution during their next meeting.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, the board awarded a contract to Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc. to provide design services for the connecting corridor between the Covington K-8 School and Covington High School. The contract is not to exceed $50,000.
Project Manager Steve Miller estimated that the entire project would cost approximately $600,000, emphasizing that this was just an estimate.
The board also approved selling the old basketball courts that are next to where the old Covington Middle School used to be to the city for $1. The contract specifies that the city needs to maintain the basketball courts as their current use for at least 25 years. After those 25 years, the city will be allowed to do change their usage if they so choose.
“They’re still going to have to answer to the taxpayers,” Mark Miller said.
Gooding said that it was not customary to go beyond 25 years in the contract and that the city did not appear interested in agreeing to a contract that had a land covenant longer than 25 years.
The board also discussed next year’s school calendar, with Mark Miller asking if the committee that builds the school calendar could work in a full week for spring break.
“I think the kids need a break. I think they need a week-long break,” Mark Miller said, adding that he has heard from families that they would like to see a week-long spring break. “That gives families an opportunity to take a trip or do things.”
Gooding explained that they were faced with the restrictions of not beginning school until after the Miami County Fair was over and trying to finish classes by Memorial Day weekend. Options included adding extra days after Memorial Day weekend or taking two days from Christmas break, which is two weeks long.
The board decided to send the school calendar back to its committee to see if they can work in a full week of spring break.
Also during their meeting, the board approved purchasing the lifetime license of Boardworks K-12 Education Suite, a teaching resource, at a cost of $17,240. The board also approved a salary increase for Athletic Director Roger Craft to a salary of $47,476 in order to be in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which states that administrators working underneath a salary of approximately $47,000 had to receive overtime.
Reach Sam Wildow at [email protected] or (937) 451-3336