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Northeastern school board plans to keep high schools split

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 @ 11:14 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017 @ 4:34 PM

The Northeastern Local School Board will ask voters to support a bond issue for two new schools in the district.

The Northeastern Local School Board likely will ask voters to support a bond issue to build two new pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools, keeping the district’s high schools split.

The board voted 4-1 Wednesday night to allow Superintendent John Kronour to ask the Ohio School Facilities Commission for money to build the two schools. The schools are projected to cost about $116 million.

READ MORE: Northeastern board members debate $100M new school plans

The school board has debated for several years whether Northeastern should consolidate the district’s two high schools. The district is the second largest in Clark County and the last here to have multiple high schools. The school board held several community forums on the issue, and last week said the feedback they got indicates that the best chance at new buildings is to keep the district divided.

“I can speak for every one of us that we read (emails) carefully and considered all aspects of every one of them,” board member Steve Schwitzable said. “There was nothing that caused me to change my mind. I am still of the opinion I think one high school building is the best educationally, financially. But I don’t think it will pass and I think we can do very well with two pre-k through 12th buildings.”

The plan would call for one school to be built in Northridge close to Kenton Ridge High School and the other will be built in South Vienna near Northeastern High School. That’s contingent on voters approving a $77.5 million bond issue this November.

The state likely will kick in $38.5 million if the bond issue passes.

RELATED: Northeastern to survey residents on $100M new schools plan

School Board President Chris James and board members Joel Augustus, Jill Parker and Schwitzable voted for the two new schools. James and Parker said they believed two schools were the best option for students in the district, while Augusts and Schwitzable said they believed one high school was likely better for education, but they didn’t think that voters would approve a bond issue asking to consolidate schools.

This option was supported over a second option to build three new school buildings in the district. That would have included two new pre-k through eighth-grade buildings and one new high school, costing the district about $123.8 million — about $83.8 million would have fallen to taxpayers to cover.

That plan was supported by board Vice President Jeff Caivano, who said he wants to consolidate the high schools to offer more opportunities for students. He called the decision to build two new buildings instead of the one high school an “awful mistake.”

EARLIER COVERAGE: Northeastern residents split on $100M plan for new schools

He said picking the two building option because voters would be more likely to support it wasn’t a good idea and that the board has a responsibility to choose the best option for the students regardless of public opinion.

“Neither one of these plans are going to be easy to pass,” he said. “I feel it is our job as a board not to sit back as a board and say, ‘We know it’s not best academically, financially, but we think this is going to pass.’”

Caivano said if the two schools combined, he believed it could be the crown jewel of Clark County offering students a competitive curriculum along with saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in staffing and services.

“Let’s build an academic powerhouse,” he said before the vote.

The vote doesn’t put the bond issue on the November ballot, it was only to prompt Kronour to start the process with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to get money for the schools. Board members will have to vote again later on a bond issue.

Clark State applies for 1st of its kind Bachelor’s degree in Ohio

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Clark State Community College wants to offer a baccalaureate degree in manufacturing technology management.

Clark State Community College is a step closer to offering its first Bachelor’s degree, which its leaders say would be the first of its kind in Ohio and is needed to fill a skills gap.

The school wants to offer a baccalaureate degree in manufacturing technology management. The school’s application has been posted to the Ohio Department of Higher Education website for public comment. It’s the second step in the approval process, according to Clark State.

TRENDING STORY: Northwestern board to discuss complaints amid superintendent probe

“The degree that we are proposing is really innovative and does not exist in the state,” said Aimee Belanger-Haas, dean of business and applied technologies. “It will give students the chance to have a degree in advanced technology issues with a management style.”

Manufacturing is the third largest economic driver in the region, according to Clark State’s application

Within Clark State’s six-county commuter area, more than 64,500 workers — nearly 13 percent of the population — are employed by nearly 1,200 manufacturing companies, according to the college’s application. And this past year, the commuter area had 370 hard-to-fill supervisory jobs.

Clark State will work with its manufacturing partners to share with students issues they face on a daily basis and it will be up to the students to figure out solutions, Belanger-Haas said. Giving students real-world challenges will prepare them for their professional careers.

DETAILS: Clark State gets $200K for high-tech precision agriculture

“This degree is a game changer for our manufacturing partners — they are facing record numbers of retirements,” Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said in a statement. “In addition, it is taking these businesses far too long to fill vacant positions because of a significant skills gap in training.”

Manufacturers need students to develop solutions to complex issues in the industry, Belanger-Haas said.

“This program has been requested by industry and for industry to fill a specific need,” she said.

The Bachelor’s degree could be just the first of many for Clark State if the Ohio Department of Higher Education approves it, Belanger-Haas said. The more courses the community college can offer to help its manufacturing partners, the better, she said.

If the degree is approved, the school plans to offer it starting in 2018.

READ MORE: Clark State, Springfield open new drone hangar at airport

To comment on the application, go to

Clark State worked with a lot of partners to make the degree a reality, Belanger-Hass said.

Springfield-based McGregor MetalWorking Companies has worked with the community college because it will help promote manufacturing, Vice President Jamie McGregor said.

“This degree is the culmination of Clark State’s effort to hear what the companies in our region are searching for in prospective candidates,” he said in a statement. “It’s an exciting time for Clark State, our community and the many businesses who are in dire need of a trained and competent workforce.”

Unmatched coverage

The Springfield News-Sun digs into important stories about your schools in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on district report cards and plans to build new schools.

By the numbers

64,500: Workers within Clark State’s six-county commuter area employed by nearly manufacturing companies

1,188: Manufacturing companies in Clark State’s commuter area

370: Hard-to-fill supervisory jobs in Clark State’s commuter area in the past year

2018: Year Clark State hopes to offer new bachelor’s degree if approved by the state

Northwestern board to discuss complaints amid superintendent probe

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 4:11 PM

            Northwestern superintendent Jesse Steiner
Northwestern superintendent Jesse Steiner

Northwestern Local Schools’ board of education will hold a closed executive session meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, in part “to consider the investigation of complaints against a public employee.”

Northwestern Superintendent Jesse Steiner has been away from the district since Nov. 26 while allegations of unprofessional behavior are investigated, according to a statement from the school board’s attorney.

EARLIER: Northwestern investigates allegations against superintendent Steiner

School board President Donna Myers on Monday declined to address the details of the complaints against Steiner. She did say that Steiner hasn’t been formally placed on leave or scheduled for a disciplinary hearing.

“They’re just investigating now, and we will be advised on what direction we need to take eventually,” Myers said. “All we’re doing is fact-finding right now.”

The school board will make a statement about the case “maybe later this week,” Myers said.

RELATED: Steiner hired to lead district after Orr leaves

Steiner, previously superintendent of the Celina and Hicksville districts, was hired by Northwestern in June 2015 after Tony Orr left to become superintendent of Hamilton City Schools. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

High school Principal Lori Swafford is currently serving as Northwestern’s interim superintendent.

The school board meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the board of education office at 5610 Troy Road has only one item on the agenda between the public roll call and adjournment — a closed executive session.

RELATED: Northwestern treasurer to retire after 27 years

In addition to talking about the investigation, school board members will be interviewing candidates for the role of district treasurer during the executive session.

Northwestern’s longtime treasurer, David Bollheimer, announced his retirement in mid-November. He’s been with the district for 27 years and will leave at the end of the month.

The school board’s next regularly scheduled public meeting is 6 p.m. Dec. 21 in the elementary school library.

Springfield schools ahead of Ohio push for computer science classes

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 7:00 AM

            Springfield High School teacher Chuck Stumpf, who worked as an engineer before becoming a teacher, helps a student understand rapid prototyping which is common in engineering and manufacturing fields.
Springfield High School teacher Chuck Stumpf, who worked as an engineer before becoming a teacher, helps a student understand rapid prototyping which is common in engineering and manufacturing fields.

The Ohio legislature passed a bill that encourages computer science classes in Ohio high schools, but Springfield City Schools say they have been focused on getting students into these classes for years.

The bill, co-sponsored by a number of representatives and senators, do not mandate more computer science classes in schools but does require the state board of education to adopt standards and urges schools to look into adding computer science classes.

MORE: Springfield High hosts unique college fair

Springfield City Schools has tried to add these classes to the high school curriculum for a number of years already, Springfield City Superintendent Bob Hill said, and the bill is a step in the right direction.

“It legitimizes what we have been trying to do at Springfield High School,” Hill said of the bill.

Springfield offers students many computer science courses. Students can take robotics, video game design, coding and other classes at Springfield High School. Seventh and eighth graders also can take an introductory robotic and computer design class. Also, Horace Mann is offering a computer science class to sixth grade students.

The Springfield Dome also offers younger students courses in computer science every month.

“We know that technology is going to continue to expand and it is not going backward,” Hill said. “Here in Springfield, we bought in wholeheartedly with the belief that we are going to prepare our students not only in careers in technology but for careers in many other fields because technology is the basis of most what we do in society today.

READ: Springfield students to stage escape rooms

Springfield senior Isaac Buzzard has taken nearly every computer science course offered by the school. He said he appreciates getting to learn about computers and how they work.

“I grew up very poor and coming here and having the opportunity to do this kind of stuff is amazing,” he said. “I have learned a lot. I have had a passion for computers my whole life. I have taken every single engineering and digital electronics course here and I have learned so much of it.”

EXTRA: 4 Kenton Ridge grads bring school spirit to Ohio State band

Hill said he wants to expand computer science in the school, but state budgets and uncertainty about how schools will be funded prevents him from guaranteeing that the classes will continue to grow.

“As school funding continues to get cut, that puts us in an awkward position to figure out how we can expand or even continue these cutting-edge things we have done to benefit our students,” he said.

Another obstacle the school has to face is a teacher shortage, he said. Finding qualified teachers to lead classes in computer science can be difficult as most people with experience and a degree in the field opt to work in the profession as the pay is good.

EXTRA: 4 Kenton Ridge grads bring school spirit to Ohio State band

Hill approves of the bill for many reasons, he said, but he especially likes that it is not another mandate on schools.

“I don’t agree with anything being mandatory, that’s part of the problem with education that too many things are mandatory,” he said. “There are many other districts that do not have the community support that we have and are not able to do this thing.”

By the numbers

9: Different computer science classes that are offered to Springfield City High School.

250: Students

300: Elementary aged students who take computer science classes at the Dome every year.

Staying with the Story:

The Springfield News-Sun reports on education in Springfield and across Clark and Champaign County to ensure students are getting the best education possible.

Northwestern treasurer set to retire after 27 years

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

            Northwestern Treasurer David Bollheimer is set to retire at the end of the month after serving the district for 27 years. PARKER PERRY/STAFF
Northwestern Treasurer David Bollheimer is set to retire at the end of the month after serving the district for 27 years. PARKER PERRY/STAFF

The Northwestern Local school treasurer is set to retire at the end of the month after 27 years at the district.

David Bollheimer started working for the district on Dec. 1, 1990 and said he is proud of his career.

“It is a good district and they have treated me well,” Bollheimer said. “It is a good place to be.”

The Northwestern Local Board of Education is in the process of hiring a new treasurer That person has not been announced yet.

MORE: Northwestern schools to put checkbook online

Bollheimer began his career in education in payroll at Sydney Local Schools. He then moved to Covington schools and was the treasurer there for a little more than two years. Then he was hired on at Northwestern.

“I stayed for a combination of reasons,” he said of his long career at Northwestern. “It’s being in a good place and being in a good community.”

Being a treasurer of a school district can be difficult, he said, but also gives opportunities other jobs can’t.

“People say run it like a business and education is not a business,” he said. “But at the same time, there is somebody who has to look at the business side of things. Often times, the treasurer has to be the one that says no. You have to have thick skin because you have people who don’t always agree with you.”

EXTRA: Shane Carter named football coach at Northwestern High School

Watching the kids graduate every year is a special time, he said, and makes all the hard work worth it.

“The best thing every year is graduation and seeing the kids and how excited they are and what they have accomplished and knowing in some small way you have contributed to that,” He said.

Though he is not in the classroom teaching, part of education is being a good steward of taxpayer money, he said, and he has tried to be that.

“You have to do what’s best for the district and best for the kids,” he said. “You can’t keep going back for more levies because people can’t afford it and they will end up voting no.”

He said Superintendent Jesse Steiner has worked with him to make sure money is being spent properly and there is a focus on the kids.

Bollheimer has won a couple awards. He won treasurer of the year in 2014 and then won the Virginia Ramsey award for service last year. Each award came with a scholarship he was allowed to pass on to a graduating student.

He worked with the counselors at the school to find deserving students who also were in need of the extra cash for tuition.

The students wrote letters to Bollheimer thanking him for the scholarships. He still has the letters and said it is what he is most proud of during his time as treasurer.