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2 boys sentenced for school bomb threats

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 3:03 PM

            Judge Joe Kirby sentenced two Warren County boys in school threat cases on Monday.

Two Warren County public-school students were ordered during sentencings today to write letters apologizing for making false alarms at their schools.

These are two of the most recent threats this school year at schools in Warren County.

Last year, about a dozen threats in the final weeks of the school year in the Springboro-, Lebanon- and Waynesville-area districts prompted a range of responses, including evacuations and the closing of Springboro High for one day.

RELATED: School threats growing nationwide problem

On Monday, Judge Joe Kirby ordered the letter writing during hearings held in Warren County Juvenile Court in cases stemming from threats made at Springboro Junior High School and Little Miami High School.

RELATED: Bomb threats back in Warren County schools

Both boys were also placed on probation and ordered to do 20 hours of community service, engage in counseling and barred access to weapons. Each is also required to continue reporting to a day-time program at the detention center in Lebanon until allowed to return to school, to undergo counseling and pay $65 in court costs.


The 12-year-old from the Springboro district also received credit for six days in juvenile detention for making the threat on Feb 2 at Springboro Junior High.

RELATED: Springboro student avoids jail for bomb threat

The 14-year-old Little Miami student was also sentenced for drug abuse and given credit for 13 days spent in detention. He made his threat on March 7 at the high school outside Morrow.

Middletown picks top Lakota official as new superintendent

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 6:21 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 11:15 AM

One of the rising stars of Lakota Local Schools will become the new leader of Middletown City Schools, the Journal-News was the first to report Monday.

Marlon Styles Jr., the executive director of curriculum and instruction for Lakota, was chosen through unanimous vote by the Middletown Board of Education on Monday evening as the district’s next superintendent.

MORE: 3 finalists for Middletown Superintendent job

“We will be innovative and modernize our approach to provide our students with a strong educational experience and we will introduce a strong sense of Middletown pride and I hope to be the source of inspiration for that in this district and this community,” Styles told the board after the vote.

Styles, who is a former principal of Mount Healthy High School in Hamilton County, said, “I’m looking forward to partnering with you and the community to making a difference in the lives of our students … and I’m ready to get to work.”

Middletown School Board President Chris Urso said the 37-year-old Styles won over the five-member governing board of the Butler County city school system with his resume, intelligence and leadership qualities.

“He comes here with a past that is full of great experiences, being at Mount Healthy and being at Lakota, you can see the young man is ready for this challenge. The charisma, the intellect, all those pieces gives us the utmost confidence that as superintendent he’ll lead our district in a good direction,” Urso said after the vote.

Styles, who will earn $138,000 annually, will replace current superintendent Sam Ison, who initially retired but then accepted a principal’s job with Wayne Local Schools in Warren County.

MORE: Middletown Schools’ leader leaving

Styles will be the first African American to serve as superintendent in Middletown Schools’ history, though the district has had a black, interim superintendent.

About 18 percent of Middletown’s 6,400 students are African American.

Styles moved from Mount Healthy Schools to Lakota Schools in 2013 and is credited by district officials there with revamping and modernizing the 16,500-student’s curricula, particularly in the areas of classroom instruction focusing more on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

MORE: Styles hired as new Lakota curriculum leader

Prior to his Mount Healthy stint he served as assistant principal at Hamilton County’s Wyoming High School and Northwest High School and as a middle school math teacher in the Winton Woods Schools.

He is a graduate of Thomas More College and earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Cincinnati.

In his cover letter that accompanied his application for the Middletown job, Styles cited newly adopted strategic goals for improving the troubled city school district, which in recent years has been one of the lowest performing districts in Southwest Ohio according to the state’s annual report card.

“I believe I have the diverse experience, leadership, skills and commitment you are looking for to lead the Middletown Schools,” wrote Styles in documents obtained by the Journal-News last week through a public records request.

“In collaboration with all Middletown city school district stakeholders, we would infuse modern learning opportunities into our schools to positively impact student learning,” wrote Styles.

Veteran Lakota Board of Education member Ray Murray, who cast a vote in 2013 to hire Styles, praised the new Middletown leader as a “smart choice for the job of superintendent of the Middletown School district.”

“His knowledge of curriculum design and professional development will bring a positive and immediate impact on student learning. Marlon is a true leader in education and the residents of Middletown are getting a top notch superintendent,” said Murray.

Under Ohio law, school boards hire district superintendents and treasurers. Traditionally, superintendent contracts begin on Aug. 1, but Middletown board members included a stipulation in Styles’ contract that he will work 15 days total for Middletown in the months of June and July.

In March, the board hired the K12 Business Consulting search firm to assist in developing a superintendent search profile and to recruit potential candidates.

The same firm earlier this handled Lakota’s search for a new superintendent, resulting in the hiring of Matt Miller.

MORE: Record turnover among Butler, Warren county superintendents

School officials offered online surveys to city residents and held a series of public input meetings to formulate a candidate profile and the qualities district officials, school employees, residents, business and city leaders were seeking in a new superintendent.

Work is continuing on a $96 million transformation of the Middletown High School campus that includes the building of a new middle school and a massive renovation of the adjacent high school.

The two schools will be connected by a new gym and athletic center. The two projects are scheduled to be completed in 2018, though some high school classroom spaces will be opened this spring.

Cincinnati State to tap beer brewing degree

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 10:01 AM

            John Loftis holds up a glass of Mother Stewart’s beer to the light in their brew house in Springfield. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Cincinnati State will announce the launch of the region’s first degree in brewing science today.

Cincinnati State and leaders of the local craft beer and brewing industry will make the announcement at 10:30 a.m. today about the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Brewing degree.

RELATED: New microbrewery, taproom coming to Butler County

Employers in the fast-growing craft beer industry say the new degree will help close the skill gap and accelerate Cincinnati’s growing reputation as a “bastion of brewing.”

It is the first two-year Brewing Science degree program in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana and was designed with extensive input brewing industry leaders, university leaders said.

RELATED: New Middletown brewery aims to bridge beer towns of Cincinnati, Dayton

Those expected at the announcement include: Monica Posey, president of Cincinnati State, Chef Alan Neace, Associate Dean of Midwest Culinary Institute, Carla Gesell-Streeter, program chair for Brewing Science program, brewing student Ryan Osner, a veteran and employee at Rhinegeist, area brewing industry leaders, area chambers of commerce and state and local officials.

School board to consider member’s resignation, new teacher contract

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 12:02 PM

            Carlisle High School. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Just weeks after voters approved a bond issue to build a new K-12 building, the Carlisle Board of Education will consider the resignation of a board member as well as a new contract for teachers at tonight’s meeting.

Board member David Clay submitted his resignation over the weekend, Superintendent Larry Hook confirmed with this news outlet.

MORE: Majority of Carlisle voters back bond issue

Clay has served on the school board for the past 10 years, according to Hook, and his current four-year term would have expired on Dec. 31.

RELATED: Middletown to interview 3 superintendent finalists

The board will appoint a new member to the board in the coming weeks and that seat will be one of three that will be open in the Nov. 7 general election.

Also on tonight’s agenda is consideration of a new three-year contract for the district’s teachers. Hook declined to comment on the details of the new agreement with the Carlisle Teachers Association prior to the board meeting.

TEACHER CONTRACT TALKS: Iffy during state budget negotiations

As part of the negotiations, the board will consider the creation of a new position of athletic director/assistant principal, according to the agenda.

In a personnel matter, a public hearing on the retire/rehire request of high school teacher Mark Townsley and elementary teacher Sue Centers will also be held at tonight’s meeting.

RELATED: More details on Carlisle bond issue

Hook is also expected to give an update about the new K-12 building. He said he will be meeting with officials from the Ohio School Financing Commission today and will update the board on those discussions.

The Carlisle Board of Education will meet at 5:50 p.m. for the public hearing, with the regular meeting starting at 6 p.m. in the choir/lecture room at Carlisle High School, 250 Jamaica Road.

Sink or swim test for students at Lakota cardboard regatta

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 5:02 PM

Dozens of high school students risked getting dunked Friday as they put novice engineering skills to a watery test of racing mini-cardboard boats.

The Lakota East Freshman School students paddled, splashed and floundered in the Lakota YMCA swimming pool.

They walked away wetter but wiser in the ways of structural engineering and teamwork.

“We learn the entire engineering design process from start to finish,” said Ken Kinch, instructor with the Butler Tech engineering program at Lakota East’s Freshman and high school school.

BUTLER COUNTY SCHOOL TREND: Outdoors can be the best classroom

“They had to brain storm solutions … and as a group they had to put that solution to work and build their canoes out of only corrugated cardboard and duct tape. And they are learning about team work and how to be a graceful winner and a graceful loser,” said Kinch standing pool side next to some of the soaked teen participants who took a spill.

The annual event is a popular one at Lakota because it incorporates a rare tactile engineering experience as the teens — and their cardboard boat projects — either sink or swim.

The two-person boat teams have to paddle against another boat by paddling the length of the indoor pool and back with the winner moving on in the competition.

EXCLUSIVE: Butler Tech turns away hundreds of students

The students constructed 31 boats. Some worked and some didn’t, either sinking, collapsing or capsizing.

Regardless, said Lakota freshman Serena Clark, it’s a fun way to learn.

“A lot of teams doubted us because our boat was big and fat. And we have our repairs all right here,” she said motioning to a couple of rolls of duct tape adorning her forearm.

“We’ve been watching other people’s boats and how they messed up and how they are sinking and paddling and turning” and learned from those, said Clark, whose all-girl team was among the finalists in the races.

The Butler Tech engineering program is part of an extensive satellite system of classes offered by the career school inside high schools throughout the county.

MORE: Ross High School students among national finalists for school security app

Most recently a Butler Tech class in computer science saw a group of teens at Ross High School earned honors for inventing a mobile device app for school security, winning $50,000 in computer and digital technology for the school as national finalists.

Michael Beauchat, spokesman for Butler Tech, watched the cardboard regatta and said “I never cease to be amazed by what the teachers are doing with the students.”

“They are doing so much with technology and careers, it is just inspiring to see what the students are getting out of this. And the students love it,” said Beauchat.