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Middletown school leader talks state report card with business leaders

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 4:10 PM
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 6:00 PM

            Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles, Jr. speaks to local community and business leaders about state report card scores and strategic plans for the district during a luncheon hosted by the school district Friday, Sept. 22, in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles, Jr. speaks to local community and business leaders about state report card scores and strategic plans for the district during a luncheon hosted by the school district Friday, Sept. 22, in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

While last week’s state report card on Middletown Schools left some in the district disappointed, the school system is making significant progress in some areas, Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. told business and community leaders.

The quarterly community outreach forum was the first for Styles and is part of his proactive campaign to engage the Butler County city’s various segments as stakeholders in improving local schools.

Styles, who started in August, told the invited audience of more than 60 at the school system’s downtown office, “we want you at the table” as the district reforms toward improvement.

MORE: School report cards: Here’s how Butler County districts performed

“If you are willing to sit in on the game, then please know the door will always be open,” he told the audience after a presentation highlighting some of the better parts of the district’s latest state report card.

Weaving closer ties with the city’s business community is a critical part of any improvement in the city schools, said Styles, who described it as a “big stitch in our fabric.”

“It’s something we really want to just not talk about it, but also invest in as well,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Education’s annual report card on the state’s 609 public school systems — based on the 2016-2017 school year student testing — showed Middletown earning three Fs, a D, C and B.

MORE: Middletown school leader wins national award

Styles hour-long presentation, which included taking questions from the audience, highlighted some areas of improvement behind the major category grades.

The district’s four-year graduation rate improved from a C to a B, and since earning a 78.6 percent rate in 2012, improved to a 90 percent last year.

“That is huge and the (student) data indicates the investment we are making as a community is paying off,” said Styles, who previously was a top district official with the Lakota School system.

MORE: Top 5 things to know about state report cards

He also pointed to the district’s kindergarten through 3rd grade literacy rate improvement from a D to C grade as another area of progress to build on and a source of optimism for the future of the 6,400-student school system. Moreover, the state measurement of “performance index” improved from 67.4 to 71.4 percent in the last school year.

Rick Pearce, president of the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton, said Styles was impressive and his message persuasive.

“This was Marlon’s opportunity to share with us and the community what the test scores are but also … show we’re improving in these other areas as we dive deep down into it (report card),” said Pearce.

MORE: 5 questions with Middletown’s new school leader

Pearce said his group will now try to get the business community involved in the local schools “to see how we can be part of that solution.”

Marc Bellisario, president and CEO of Primary Health Solutions, said “it was great meeting and important to reach out to the community and let everyone know what is going on.”

“The new superintendent is really trying to get the word out and I was very impressed because there are a lot of good things happening for Middletown schools,” said Bellisario.

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Judge says Dayton schools task force public, but denies injunction

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 2:41 PM
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:40 PM

            Members of a combined city-Dayton Public Schools task force studying school facilities tour Valerie Elementary School on Feb. 6. The tours ended before scheduled because of a legal challenge. SEAN CUDAHY/Staff
Members of a combined city-Dayton Public Schools task force studying school facilities tour Valerie Elementary School on Feb. 6. The tours ended before scheduled because of a legal challenge. SEAN CUDAHY/Staff

A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge denied a preliminary injunction sought by a Dayton resident who alleged an Ohio Open Meetings (OMA) Act violation because he was denied in his efforts to join a bus tour of Dayton Public Schools facilities.

Judge Richard Skelton ruled Monday in a 7-page decision that Dayton resident David Esrati did not meet the burden of proof about the bus tour containing substantive recommendations or discussion regarding potential closures of school buildings.

Esrati said he plans to continue the suit.

Skelton did write that the 20-member School Facilities Task Force formed to help Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli was a public body — disagreeing with DPS and Dayton city attorneys.

RELATED: Judge to rule today on legal challenge to Dayton schools task force

“The court rejects the argument of DPS that the Task Force was only an advisory group for the superintendent and was not a ‘public body’ itself,” Skelton wrote, later adding: “Pretending that the Task Force, including three members of the Board, was only for the Board’s employee would allow a simple subterfuge to avoid the OMA.”

A Dayton Board of Education meeting that includes a potential vote on a school closing proposal is scheduled for Tuesday. An injunction could have stopped or delayed that vote.

“The burden is on the plaintiff to prove that such deliberative discussion occurred during the bus tour and was used by the Board (of Education) in proposing its formal action,” Skelton wrote. “The plaintiff did not produce the first witness who offered any proof that a deliberative or any other discussion was had on the bus tour at issue.”

Skelton wrote that the court “has no basis to find that plaintiff has shown he is likely to succeed on his claimed violation of the OMA at the trial on the merits.

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Esrati said Skelton’s decision “makes no sense” and that he received legal advice that he should — and plans to — take the case to trial, currently scheduled for July 11.

“He said clearly they were a public body, and how I’m supposed to prove what they discussed or didn’t discuss is irrelevant because they’re not allowed to meet in private unless it’s for matters of executive session,” Esrati said, later adding: “There’s no way of me proving it because I wasn’t in the bus or in the school or anything else. And that’s a violation.”

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Esrati filed the lawsuit without an attorney. He 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.

On Thursday, Esrati questioned Lolli and also was cross-examined by DPS attorney Brian Wildermuth during the nearly 2½-hour, wide-ranging hearing.

Wildermuth did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Wildermuth, who has said the task force wasn’t a public body and isn’t subject to the open meetings laws, argued in a post-hearing brief that the group was not a decision-maker and didn’t reach any consensus or specific recommendations.


“Plaintiff had the burden of proof,” Wildermuth wrote. “He did not carry that burden.”

Esrati said the board’s actions are a big part of the district’s problem.

“This school board is not to be trusted by anyone at any time for anything, if this is the way they want to conduct business,” Esrati said.

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Troy narrows superintendent’s candidates list, sets interviews

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 11:00 AM


The Troy City Schools Board of Education will begin this week interviewing eight candidates, three already with the district, for the superintendent’s job.

Board President Doug Trostle said the board planned to interview four candidates each night Monday and Tuesday in executive sessions. After those interviews, the board will narrow candidates to its top three for final interviews the week of April 9.

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“We intend to finalize our selection and introduce our new superintendent by the end of April,” Trostle said.

Superintendent Eric Herman announced earlier this year he would retire at the end of July.

K12 Consultants was hired by the board to coordinate the superintendent search. The firm will be paid $17,900.

The firm compiled a search profile following February meetings with various groups including teachers/support staff, parents and the community. The profile identified the top characteristics named for a superintendent as strong interpersonal and public relations skills, effective at creating and implementing a district vision and ability and willingness to deal fairly with faculty, staff, students and parents.

The deadline for applications was March 9. Trostle said 16 applications were received.

The board met in an executive sessions Monday, March 12, with K12 Consultants to review the candidates and narrow the list.

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The semi-finalists are:

- Shawn Blazer, assistant superintendent, Northeastern Local Schools, Springfield

- David Dilbone, principal, Troy Junior High School

- Scott Hunt, superintendent, Cardinal Local Schools, Middlefield, Ohio in Geauga County

- Jeremy Miller, assistant superintendent, Troy City Schools

- Michael Moore, director of curriculum, Troy City Schools

- Scott Nelson, former superintendent, Sylvania City Schools, near Toledo

- Jeff Patrick, superintendent Franklin Monroe Schools, Darke County

- Chris Piper, superintendent, Triad Local Schools, North Lewisburg

Information on the superintendent search, including the profile, is available on the district website at

Contact this contributing writer at

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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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