End of era?: Hamilton schools may join Butler Tech’s job training

Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

Butler Tech, one of Ohio's largest career school systems, is getting bigger.

A historic change may be coming for Hamilton High School students, as talks begin with Butler Tech to merge the high school’s job training program into the larger county-wide career school.

Hamilton schools have for years been the lone holdout among nine other Butler County public school districts in not partnering with the Butler Tech career schools spread throughout the county.

MORE: Hamilton goes solo when it comes to offering students career education

The Hamilton High School’s Career Tech Education (CTE) center, located adjacent to the high school, has offered nine career training programs annually for about 500 juniors and seniors.

Staying with a local career training program, which Hamilton has offered in various forms since the 1940s, provided advantages including saving on transportation costs and allowing students to easily participate in other school activities while in the program.

But Steve Isgro, president of the Hamilton Board of Education, said, “while having local control of these programs has its benefits, the district is limited in the offerings it can provide as compared to Butler Tech.”

In a joint statement issued recently, Isgro said, “we are committed to maintaining the best programs for all of our students. Based on what we have learned to this point, we believe a partnership with Butler Tech could reduce operational costs and expand educational opportunities for our students at the same time.”

Butler Tech is one of the largest career education systems in Ohio and offers dozens of constantly updated job-training programs – many with the cooperation of area industries – for thousands of high school and adult students.

MORE: Butler Tech buys former amusement park land to expand campuses 

Jon Graft, superintendent and CEO of Butler Tech, said, “we are excited to collaborate with Hamilton City Schools and explore how a partnership might provide additional value and opportunity for students and the community.”

MORE: Butler Tech changes its branding with new logo

“We are on the leading edge of a cultural shift that is placing greater emphasis on career technical education in preparing students for 21st century careers and lowering the cost of higher education. Hamilton has an outstanding CTE program today, and a partnership with Butler Tech could significantly expand the choices Hamilton students have to start pursuing their dreams,” said Graft.

Hamilton schools enroll 10,000 students and is one of the largest school districts in southwest Ohio.

Butler Tech serves about 1,400 students on its high school campuses and approximately 15,600 students daily through programs based in its associate high schools, middle schools and junior schools in local school districts. It serves more than 2,000 adult students a year in its adult education programs.

Besides nine Butler County school districts, Butler Tech also serves as the career education provider for Northwest schools in northern Hamilton County near the Butler County southern border.

Officials from both school systems said that although discussions have begun, no decisions have been made regarding any possible timelines for completion, programming changes or school facilities.

Middletown schools joined the Butler Tech system in 1995, and Monroe schools joined in 2000.

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Northeastern to close, consolidate schools if bond fails

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 9:44 AM
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 6:06 PM

            Rolling Hills Elementary School. Bill Lackey/Staff
Rolling Hills Elementary School. Bill Lackey/Staff

The Northeastern Local School Board of Education approved a contingency plan to consolidate the district’s two high schools and close Rolling Hills Elementary School should voters in May again reject a $79 million bond issue for new schools.

The district is asking voters for a bond issue to build two new pre-k through 12th grade schools in the district, one on the Kenton Ridge High School side and the other on the Northeastern High School side. The state has offered to pay about $40 million for the schools, making the total cost of the project about $119 million.

RELATED: Northeastern bond issue for $117M new schools rejected

Having a backup plan is necessary, Northeastern Local Schools Superintendent John Kronour said.

“The district faces a number of upcoming facilities expenses to address problems in the aging school buildings, such as leaking roofs, poor air quality, heating and air conditioning regulation, plumbing problems, and other issues,” he said.

The contingency plan calls for closing Rolling Hills Elementary, using South Vienna and Northridge as preschool through fifth-grade elementary buildings, converting Kenton Ridge into a middle school for all sixth- through eighth-grade students and making Northeastern High School the only high school in the district.

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“By eliminating one building, the district will reduce necessary repairs in the future and be able to concentrate limited funds available for facilities upgrades toward the remaining four buildings,” Kronour said.

The Springfield News-Sun will update this article when more information is available.


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This former beloved amusement park is becoming one of the most unique facilities in the area

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

            The Butler Tech adult education campus will move to a new location along Ohio 4 in the former Couch’s Campers building in Monroe later this year. The new campus will be call the Butler Tech LeSourdsville Campus. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
The Butler Tech adult education campus will move to a new location along Ohio 4 in the former Couch’s Campers building in Monroe later this year. The new campus will be call the Butler Tech LeSourdsville Campus. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Soon, adults will be learning new work careers at a beloved former amusement park where generations played.

Work has begun on creating a $3 million Butler Tech adult education campus on 36 acres on what used to be part of the famed LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park in Monroe.

STORY & VIDEO: A look back at the former LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park

The park opened in 1922 and was located along Ohio Route 4 just south of the State Route 63 interchange. Until it closed in 1999, it was last century’s version of a Kings Island, drawing generations of families over the decades.

And the bright lights that once shone in the adjacent park are now being replaced by the sparks of welding torches as workers prepare almost two dozen classrooms inside a 27,000 square-foot former recreational vehicle dealership adjacent to LeSourdsville’s former entrance.

Another 13,000-square-foot, high-bay building of the RV dealership will also be converted into a learning area for manufacturing careers.

“The name of the campus is Butler Tech’s LeSourdsville campus to honor the history,” said Scott Palmer, executive director of adult education for the county-wide career school system.

“I’ve heard a lot of excitement about this project and a lot of curiosity … that will really help us fill our classes,” said Palmer.

Construction is scheduled to be done in July with adult career training classes starting August, he said.

The new LeSourdsville Campus will be the home to Butler Tech’s Adult Education office, including student services and financial aid, healthcare and manufacturing programs.

Classes in the two buildings will include welding, advanced manufacturing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration and industrial maintenance. Also offered on campus will be ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), adult literacy classes and GED preparation.

Also, healthcare programs will include medical assisting, medical billing and coding, phlebotomy, practical nursing and nurse aide training.

Butler Tech purchased the 36 acres in February 2017, and the city of Monroe plans to convert the long-abandoned LeSourdsville – which in the last years of its operation was renamed “Americana” Amusement Park - into a nature park of 50-plus acres to be named the Monroe Bicentennial Commons.

MORE: Monroe agrees on design of new park entrance road at former LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park

City plans for the former amusement park property include an extension of the Great Miami River Recreation Trail bike path, which covers about half of the distance within the city limits.

Jennifer Seifert, adult education marketing coordinator for Butler Tech, said the new campus allows “us to serve more adult students and educate them in career fields that are in demand in the area.”

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Judge could rule Friday in Dayton school task force open meetings case

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 6:29 PM

            Dayton Public Schools Acting Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli is sworn in Thursday during a hearing in the courtroom of Montgomery County Judge Richard Skelton. STAFF/MARK GOKAVI
Dayton Public Schools Acting Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli is sworn in Thursday during a hearing in the courtroom of Montgomery County Judge Richard Skelton. STAFF/MARK GOKAVI

A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge heard testimony and arguments as part of the lawsuit brought by a Dayton resident who alleges that a joint city and Dayton Public Schools task force studying school facilities violated Ohio’s Open Meetings Act.

The suit was filed by David Esrati, who filed it without an attorney. Esrati contends he was not allowed to attend a February bus tour of Dayton schools during which task force members went into schools until district attorneys advised them to cancel remaining stops.

DPS attorney Brian Wildermuth argued that the task force was not a public body and, therefore, not subject to the Open Meetings Act.

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Judge Richard Skelton said Thursday he would consider what he heard and review videos submitted by Esrati, adding that he would “determine where I think we’re headed and how before I do anything else.”

Skelton said he may reach a decision Friday and asked Wildermuth if a planned Tuesday meeting for the Dayton Board of Education could be pushed back. Wildermuth said he didn’t have the authority to do that and objected to Thursday’s hearing taking place.

Skelton rejected Wildermuth’s motion to dismiss the case with prejudice.

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Esrati questioned Dayton Public Schools Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli and also was cross-examined by Wildermuth during the nearly 2½-hour, wide-ranging hearing.

Esrati asked why he was not allowed to go into schools while certain media outlets were — without cameras, purportedly to protect student identities, he said. Lolli said she didn’t consider Esrati a media member.

Esrati disagreed with that assessment. He said that regardless, “The open records law grants access to everybody. They missed that part.”

Esrati submitted for evidence emails he requested from Dayton Public Schools about the task force’s formation and videos of the day he tried to go on the bus tour plus news stories.

Wildermuth and Dayton city attorney John Musto reserved the right to object to some of Esrati’s submissions. Wildermuth also submitted items for evidence with no objection.

MORE: Dayton plan would close elementary school, study closing high school

Skelton repeatedly told Esrati he was giving leeway because the plaintiff wasn’t an attorney. Skelton sustained several defense objections for questions that were deemed not relevant.

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How Middletown’s newest school is progressing, and what it will offer students

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

$96 million school renovation and construction project in Middletown

The new school rising from construction dust on Middletown’s high school campus is striking for both architectural and educational reasons.

The new Middletown Middle School, which is part of the massive $96 million transformation of the Middletown High School campus, is on schedule and budget, said school officials.

MORE: See drone video from high over new Middletown schools’ construction sites

Wings of the new school are separated into seventh and eighth grades and include shared learning pods outside of classrooms designed to better engage students, said George Long, business manager for the school system.

All the work on the new, 135,000-square-foot middle school will be completed by the first day of classes for the 2018-19 school year.

Simultaneously, renovation and expansion work at the adjacent high school is proceeding, and together the two projects comprise the largest school construction enterprise in the city school system’s history.

“Things are moving along, with no major hurdles,” said Long over the din of interior finishing work now being done by work crews in the middle school.

MORE: New Middletown Middle School, high school construction begins

The district’s current Vail Middle School, which will close after this school year, is the former Middletown High School and opened in 1923. It is the oldest school building in the county.

“The biggest difference here is that we teach differently than we do at the high school,” said Long, referring to the learning pod infrastructure in each wing of the middle school.

“It’s a teaming concept and students will stay in their team area for most of the school day. All of their core classes happen in a six-classroom pod so they are not walking from one end of the building to the other,” he said.

George Long, business manager for Middletown Schools, shows off one of the new learning pods between classrooms at the new Middletown Middle School now under construction.(Staff Writer)

Moreover, the teachers in those pods work together in a team structure that better allows the instructors to modify learning pace and subject matters to individual students who may be lagging academically and working ahead of their classmates.

Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. said the new school design “gives our students access to innovative learning spaces and it allows us to start redefining how we educate students.”

“Our hallways will function as extended learning areas and will allow us to invest in innovative practices such as maker learning. This new start-of-the-art facility will serve as a source of inspiration for our Middie Modernization Movement,” said Styles, referring to the campaign he started shortly after starting work for the district in August.

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