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.

Wittenberg president: School must accept change, seek progress

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 10:00 PM

            Wittenberg University President Michael Frandsen speaks at the school’s convocation. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
            Jeff Guerini
Wittenberg University President Michael Frandsen speaks at the school’s convocation. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF(Jeff Guerini)

The new president of Wittenberg University spoke to faculty and students and welcomed them back to campus during convocation Tuesday.

Mike Frandsen, who started as the liberal arts college’s 15th president on July 1, said he still believes liberal arts is important to higher education.

“I believe what we do in liberal arts education is useful, but we must take the questions of our usefulness seriously,” Frandsen said during the school’s convocation. “I think the institutions that will succeed in the future are those that are intentional about integrating all aspects of the enterprise into the education for its students.”

MORE: Wittenberg announces plans to break ground on new facility

Wittenberg, a major employer in Springfield that has a $70 million impact on the local economy, has introduced in recent years more math- and computer-based degrees on its campus. Frandsen said he believes science- and math-based degrees fit well when combined with a liberal arts education. He previously said courses like those that go with the new data science degree at the college can help the university produce well-rounded students.

“We continue to move forward with new programs,” he said during the convocation.

MORE: First female Wittenberg science prof leaves $2.3M to university

The school welcomed more than 580 freshmen last week and now has about 1,800 students on campus. Officials have said they hope to get enrollment up to 2,000 soon.

Wittenberg must embrace change, Frandsen said, if it wants to continue to move forward.

“We must continue to evolve in what we teach and how we teach it,” he said.

Many Wittenberg students attended the convocation. Quang Nguyen, who is an international student from Vietnam, said he was impressed with the new president.

“It was a wonderful speech,” Nguyen said. “He told us about his background and where he grew up and how he became successful.”

He said he has enjoyed his time in Springfield so far.

MORE: New Wittenberg president wants stronger ties with Springfield

“The community, I like it,” he said. “I visited the city on a tour and I was impressed.”

Freshman Macy Pannell, from Columbus, said she is also liked Frandsen.

“It seems like he has the schools best interest at heart,” she said. “He seemed to communicate and connect with us.”

Springfield schools, residents prepare for Monday’s solar eclipse

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 7:07 PM

Lincoln Elementary School is prepared for Monday's eclipse.

Clark County residents are preparing to watch the solar eclipse Monday, from schools changing dismissal times to handing out solar eclipse glasses to golfers.

About 87 percent of the sun will covered by the moon at 2:30 p.m. in Springfield. It’s important to remember not to look at the solar eclipse without the proper eye protection, Wittenberg University Physics and Space Professor Dan Fleisch said.

“In Springfield, people must use protection the entire time,” Fleisch said. “There is no safe time in Springfield to watch the eclipse without glasses.”

MORE: Solar Eclipse 2017: What you need to know

The solar eclipse won’t turn day into night like some residents might expect, Fleisch said, because just 10 percent of the sun is brighter than 50,000 full moons. People in Springfield should expect it to turn only slighter darker than usual, he said, and animals won’t act any differently.

“It’s not like the sun is going away in Springfield,” he said.

However he said the partial solar eclipse on Monday is only an appetizer to what’s to come. Springfield is in the path of a total solar eclipse that will happen in 2024, he said.

Though the eclipse Monday won’t be as dramatic as some might hope, the sun will still be significantly blocked by the moon from about 1 to 4 p.m. in Springfield. That’s prompted local schools and organizations to take extra precautions and plan fun events around it.

MORE: Bonnie Tyler to sing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ on cruise

Southeastern Local Schools decided Friday night that it would close on Monday, saying on its Twitter feed that it apologized for the inconvenience to parents but believed it was the “best course of action for the safety of our students.” Southeastern cited the possible danger to students’ vision from the solar eclipse during dismissal times.

Many of the Springfield City School District schools plan to have an activity for students during the eclipse. At Horace Mann, the school has purchased 500 solar eclipse glasses and with permission from parents, will take students outside during the event. Other schools are also having fun.

“Many of our classrooms already have events planned and have purchased glasses or filters that allow safe viewing,” Springfield Superintendent Bob Hill said in an email to staff. “Others have arranged to view via real time streaming from NASA or other sources.”

City schools won’t dismiss early because no schools get off during peak eclipse time, Hill said.

Over at Tecumseh Middle and High School, students will view the eclipse on the NASA website and will dismiss 20 minutes later than usual due to the eclipse. Because of the delay in dismissal, elementary school parents should expect their students to get home a little later than usual Monday, Superintendent Norm Glismann said.

MORE: Get ready for the eclipse

Clark-Shawnee Local Schools sent a permission slip home with students Thursday to let their children view the eclipse with proper eye protection. Greenon primary students will stay indoors during the eclipse while Indian Valley and Greenon High School students can view the eclipse with proper eye protection and a waiver signed by parents.

Northeastern Superintendent John Kronour said individual buildings might or might not host special events and parents should contact the school to learn more.

The National Trail Parks and Recreation District will host an event at its Mitchell Boulevard office during the eclipse. Executive Director Leann Castillo said the event is for students ages 6 and up, but expects not too many kids will show up because it’s during school time.

‘We will have a limited supply of solar eclipse glasses but it is highly encouraged that you bring your own,” Castillo said. “We want to make the event as fun as possible.”

Champaign County also will celebrate the eclipse. The main library branch in Urbana and the branch in North Lewisburg will host a solar eclipse viewing party starting at 1:30 p.m. Its website says solar eclipse glasses will be provided.

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce planned its golf outing almost a year ago before the eclipse was commonly known. Many golfers participating in the 27th annual P. Dennis Sheehan Chamber Golf Open Memorial will be on the links during the eclipse.

“What we have done is for the safety of the players, volunteers and staff, we got a sponsor for solar eclipse glasses and those will be handed out at the event,” chamber Membership Director Eric Sirons said.

By the numbers

2:30 p.m. Monday: When the moon will be covering the sun the most in Springfield

89 percent: The part of the sun that will be covered during peak solar eclipse time

2024: Year when a total solar eclipse is expected to happen in Springfield

Complete coverage

The Springfield News-Sun has provided unmatched coverage of the solar eclipse, including stories on how to make sure you can watch it safely and events going on locally.

Southeastern Local Schools close Monday for solar eclipse

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 7:49 PM

Great American Eclipse
Great American Eclipse

Southeastern Local Schools will close on Monday.

The district decided Friday evening to cancel school, but leaders said it did so because it was the “best course of action for the safety of our students.”

RELATED: Some local schools close, others make plans for Monday’s solar eclipse

The district cited possible danger to students’ vision because the eclipse will happen during dismissal times.

Download our free mobile apps for breaking news and weather

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author, others coming to Springfield for Witt Series

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 8:00 AM
Updated: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 6:19 PM

            J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance

The author of a recent New York Times Best Seller, an award-winning Iraqi poet, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a service for the anniversary of the Reformation will be among the highlights when the Wittenberg Series marks its 35th season beginning Tuesday, Aug. 22.

The 12 cultural programs including lectures, concerts and convocations are admission-free and open to the public courtesy of several endowments.

While retaining the format that has made the series a mainstay of the Springfield arts scene, the 2017-2018 season also has a fresh feel as series coordinator Lisa Watson and programming committee chair Katie Warber, beginning their second years in their positions, are hitting their strides.

“This year we’re ready to jump in,” said Warber, also an associate professor of communication at Wittenberg. “This season really speaks to the mission of liberal arts and the support of our donors.”

One of the biggest draws each year is the Fred R. Leventhal Family Endowed Lecture, which has brought in Pulitzer Prize winners, best-selling authors and journalists.

Watson and Warber are particularly excited about their Oct. 30 program.

MORE: Springfield’s Wittenberg to announce next president of university

Ohio native J.D. Vance’s book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” has topped New York Times Best Seller list twice since its June 2016 release.

The book traces Vance’s family’s challenging Appalachian roots and his fortune to take his life in a different direction, graduating from Ohio State University and Yale Law School.

He explores the region’s social impact and his observations of how culture influences life decisions. “Hillbilly Elegy” became one of the most talked-about books of the last several years.

“We’re very excited to have gotten him at the right time just as the book was coming out,” said Warber. “He’s very much in demand right now.”

Poet Dunya Mikhail escaped Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule after being questioned for her writings, became a U.S. citizen and earned awards for her work.

She’ll be the featured Koppenhaver Literary Lecture speaker on Nov. 14 and stay around the campus to attend classes and participate in a colloquium before the lecture.

Documentary filmmaker Elisabeth Haviland James will be the second film arts lecturer the Visual Arts Residency has had. She’ll show two of her films at the John Legend Theater – “Althea” about one of the first female African-American tennis players, Althea Gibson on Feb. 5 and “The Loving Story,” which earned her an Emmy for Best Historical Program on Feb. 6.

James will discuss her work following the screenings.

MORE: First female Wittenberg science prof leaves $2.3M to university

Another special highlight will be a festival choral service on Oct. 29 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. There is also the annual Martin Luther King Convocation on Jan. 15, and the series will wrap up with the Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed on March 26.

Some programs will feature question and answer and colloquium sessions prior to the lectures. Events will be on the Wittenberg campus at the Bayley Auditorium, Weaver Chapel or Pam Evans Smith Arena at 7:30 p.m. except where noted.

“I feel we have a good array of diverse people – authors, history, arts, science,” Watson said. “Our big goal is to draw in the Springfield community.

“This is not just academic; we’ve really tried to help it evolve. We hope it gets people out of their homes, away from televisions to learn about something they didn’t know about on our campus.”

For more information on the series, go to

2017-2018 Wittenberg Series Schedule

Opening Convocation 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22 in Weaver Chapel. “First Things First,” Dr. Michael Frandsen, Wittenberg University President

Concert 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25 in Weaver Chapel. Seraph Brass will perform

Festival Choral Service to Commemorate the Reformation 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29 in Weaver Chapel. Music begins at 7

Leventhal Lecture 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, in Pam Evans Smith Arena, HPER Center. “Hillbilly Elegy: A Culture in Crisis,” J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy”

Koppenhaver Literary Lecture 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 in Bayley Auditorium. Dunya Mikhail, poet. A colloquium will precede at 4:30 p.m. in Bayley Auditorium

Lessons & Carols 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 in Weaver Chapel. Music begins at 7 p.m.

Martin Luther King Convocation 11:15 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15 in Weaver Chapel. “Assignment of Fire,” Bernadette Evans, Class of 1989. A question and answer session will follow at 3:30 p.m. in the Shouvlin Center

Visual Arts Residency: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5 and Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the John Legend Theater. Elisabeth Haviland James, documentary filmmaker, screenings of “Althea” and “The Loving Story” followed by discussions

IBM Endowed Lecture in the Sciences 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 21 in Bayley Auditorium. “The Serengeti Rules,” Sean B. Carroll, evolutionary biologist and author of “The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters.” A colloquium will precede at 4 p.m. in Bayley Auditorium

Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 26 in Weaver Chapel. “Jefferson in the Time of ‘Hamilton,’” Annette Gordon-Reed, author of “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family”