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The nation’s debate about arming teachers has a focal point in Butler County. Here’s why.

Published: Monday, March 05, 2018 @ 7:46 AM

Hamilton residents sound off to school board about county sheriff’s idea of arming teachers.

To better save lives, teachers and school employees need lessons about some deadly things, said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones during an unprecedented week of public lobbying of local education boards to arm school employees.

“Anybody who works in a school needs to go through some kind of class to where they know what a gun sounds like … to where they know what a gun looks like,” said Jones during the first week of his free-of-charge, concealed carry weapon training for teachers and other school staffers.

MORE: Butler County Sheriff starts free conceal carry classes for teachers

The shooting massacre at a Florida high school two weeks ago re-inflamed debates on how best to protect students and others in the nation’s schools.

“Teachers are being killed when shooters go into these schools,” said Jones, adding that school employees need firearm experience so “they can tell where the bullets are coming from (and) they need to know what bullets can do.”

Through his many national and local media appearances Jones has become one of the country’s most recognizable proponents of allowing those teachers who volunteer – and pass CCW training – to carry or have access to handguns in school.

Unlike Jones’ previous public lobbying of schools for more armed personnel in 2013, done in the weeks following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. during which a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adult school staffers, his approach this time is more aggressive.

He used social media to advertise his teacher CCW classes, and his recent messages on Twitter included urging residents to pressure their local school boards for armed teachers.

More than 300 teachers and school staffers have signed up for his recent, highly publicized offer of free CCW training, he said.

“I will supply the (training) personnel and hopefully they (teachers) will know more about guns and save someone’s life,” Jones told this news outlet. “Here is the only alternative you have.

“We have no choice in our society right now. We cannot stop the shootings,” said Jones, but he added, “you also got to make the schools more of a hard target.”

Jones continues to lobby the county’s school officials, saying he has made it easier and cheaper for them.

“If the school boards want to do that, then we do the extra training,” he said.

Board meetings turn into lobbying efforts

Lakota school resident Jeremiah York stepped up the microphone at last week’s meeting of the Lakota school board and cited Jones’ new CCW program for teachers as one of the reasons the board should allow qualified teachers to be armed.

STORY & VIDEO: Lakota board hears from residents about armed teachers

“This must happen and this must happen quickly,” York said. “Since our schools are gun free zones to law abiding citizens, violent criminals are mass murdering our teachers and students around the country.”

He was joined by others backing the idea, but some residents disagreed.

“You don’t stop a forest fire by adding more fuel to it,” Liberty Township resident Aimee Sensing said at the meeting, referencing the idea of injecting more firearms - and possible dangers - into schools aside from those already being carried by school resource officers (SROs).

“I think he (Jones) is doing this for publicity. It’s not something that needs to be put in the public eye like this … I wish the board would make a statement that guns don’t have a place in Lakota Schools.”

The Lakota board took no action but said all new security options are now being considered.

At the Hamilton Board of Education meeting last week, city resident Jim Graham directly challenged board members, telling them he backed Jones’ proposal, saying “I hold you responsible for the safety of my grandchildren at this point.”

STORY & VIDEO: Hamilton residents make pro, con cases about armed teachers

“I saw at the recent shooting in Florida where armed folks in the school could have had an impact and lessened the devastation that occurred there,” Graham said.

“I’m an advocate for paid, armed personnel in our (school) buildings … I am an advocate of having teachers that would be willing to assume some of those roles to do that as well. We probably have teachers in our schools that would be willing to do that.”

But Hamilton resident Lucinda Greene disagreed.

“I am not for Sheriff Jones arming our teachers and personnel,” Greene told the board.

She said the current staff of armed SROs and city police officers’ presence are sufficient.

“We see the police are there. You can see it when you pull up in the parking lot,” she said.

Warren County’s Springboro schools have already acted.

Its school board sent out a Feb. 27 memo to Springboro parents about changes made because of the Parkland school shooting.

These include additional police presence, social media monitoring and the elimination of lunchroom visitors.

“The Springboro Schools’ administrative staff is looking to proactively take steps at countering potential threats, in order to ensure improved security measures across our district,” the memo read.

Nearby Franklin Schools saw its board discuss plans to add a police officer to its high school.

Current Ohio law – unless altered by local school boards – limits school personnel to keeping their handguns locked in their cars while on school property.

A small number of Ohio’s 608 public school systems have seen their boards pass resolutions to expand those CCW rights to allow for certified school personnel to carry a holstered handgun or have access to a gun in their school buildings.

The vast majority of schools in Ohio and locally, however, continue to use the traditional strategy of partnerships with local law enforcement to provide armed school resource officers (SROs) who are often police officers or sheriff deputies.

Complicating the recent, heightened public discussions of school security is the reluctance of school – and local police officials – to conduct any public, detailed discussions of building security so as not to reveal school security vulnerabilities to potential attackers.

Moreover, there are 49 public school districts in southwest Ohio alone – and dozens of non-public schools – and many vary widely in regard to the age, configuration and quality of school buildings and level of local district funding available for security measures.

Jones cautioned that his department’s training does not mean teachers will be armed in Butler County Schools soon. That is up to individual school boards to permit.

Lakota board member Lynda O’Connor said complex problems rarely have simple solutions.

“I think we see the impact on our students when they don’t feel safe in an environment. Security isn’t one thing. It’s a multi-layered approach and we’re going to spend a great amount of time and diligence making sure we looked at every option available to us,” said O’Connor.

Fellow board member Todd Parnell said, “this is a very emotional and contentious issue.”

“I don’t believe flooding schools with guns is a good idea, however, I don’t think we should prevent highly qualified (arms training) educators from carrying (CCW) if they want to do so,” said Parnell.

“We owe it to the community to look at every option,” he said.


Since Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones announced that he would offer free CCW training to teachers, this news organization has been following the progress of those classes to report on what’s happening. We will continue to report on the issue as new developments happen.

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Centerville school district hires new director of student services

Published: Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 8:35 AM

            Centerville City Schools has named Tammy Drerup as the Director of Student Services, beginning Aug. 1.
Centerville City Schools has named Tammy Drerup as the Director of Student Services, beginning Aug. 1.

Centerville City Schools has named Tammy Drerup as the districts new director of student services. Drerup will begin her new post beginning Aug. 1.

Drerup comes into the new position after serving as the director of Special Education for Sidney City Schools since 2013. She said she is looking forward to joining the school district.

“I am honored to be the next Director of Student Services for Centerville City Schools,” Drerup said. “After interviewing with a variety of staff members from across the district, I am confident I am joining a team which shares my values and puts students first. I am grateful for my time in Sidney City Schools, as they have helped me develop my skills in advocating for all children. I am excited to begin the 2018-19 school year as a Centerville Elk.”

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Drerup has 25 years of experience in education, including roles as an intervention specialist, curriculum specialist, early intervention coordinator and Director of Special Education.

In her new position, Drerup will oversee a variety of programs for Centerville Schools, including special education, Section 504 plans, programming for English Language Learners, school health, home instruction, gifted acceleration, and school attendance and truancy.

The position was posted in April, and a committee reviewed more than 40 resumes before interviewing seven internal and external applicants prior to making its selection according to school officials.

Drerup’s contract is expected to be approved by the Centerville Board of Education during its June 18 work session.

She will replace Laura Collier, who has accepted another position within the district after serving as director of Student Services for three years.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Ms. Drerup to the Centerville City Schools in the capacity of Student Services Director,” said Centerville’s Director of Human Resources Dan Tarpey. “She brings excellent credentials to the district with a genuine commitment towards maintaining the excellent programming already in place in the Student Services Department.”

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One of the area’s most historic schools was sold off today, one chalkboard and plastic heart at a time

Published: Saturday, June 09, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

The former Middletown HS was the site of a public auction Saturday and everything was for sale.

There were Middletown Middie memories for sale on Saturday during a public auction in the historic and soon-to-be-demolished old high school.

A pair of auctioneers went from classroom to classroom, moving almost as fast they rattled off cut-rate bargain prices for anything left in the former Middletown High School, which is the oldest school building in Butler County.

MORE: Middletown students will soon be learning in new middle school

Want a book cart on wheels? It was yours for $5 — and maybe even $3 if dented.

How about a plastic replica of the human heart from the old science lab?

Or a thick, wooden classroom door? Or a chalkboard? Sheets of plexiglass used in ceramics class? Yours for 75 cents each.

The public was allowed into Butler County’s oldest school for the last time Saturday as almost everything was up for auction in the old Middletown High School. Dozens filed through during the day - many of them graduates of the historic school, which in recent years had served as the city schools’ middle school. The school, which opened in 1923, will soon be demolished.(Photo by Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)(Staff Writer)

Dozens of potential buyers — and among them the simply curious — wandered around the old school for the last time as Middletown school officials prepare to clear out and gut the building in preparation for its demolition.

Used in recent years as a middle school, the old Middletown High School first opened to students in 1923, while Warren G. Harding was president of the United States.

The massive, nearly city block-long school was once Middletown High School and the storied home for the city’s sports legends – including NBA Hall Of Famer Jerry Lucas - and tens of thousands of graduates.

MORE: Famed basketball arena for Middletown Middies closes down for new facility

The public was allowed into Butler County’s oldest school for the last time Saturday as almost everything was up for auction in the old Middletown High School. Dozens filed through during the day - many of them graduates of the historic school, which in recent years had served as the city schools’ middle school. The school, which opened in 1923, will soon be demolished.(Photo by Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)(Staff Writer)

One of them was Suzanne Tadych. Her children then attended the school when it was converted to a middle school.

“We are having fun today finding our old lockers and going to our old homerooms,” said the Middletown resident.

She came with friends who were looking to buy school items, but Tadych said “we really wanted to reminisce and explore.”

“It’s part of our history and our family. It holds a lot of memories and it’s something you can connect to the generation before that went to high school here so it’s kind of a connection we all have,” she said.

Middletown High School graduate Cheryl Kruer said, “so many memories and sad feelings about what’s going to happen to this building but I’m glad I’m here today because it’s surreal.”
The public was allowed into Butler County’s oldest school for the last time Saturday as almost everything was up for auction in the old Middletown High School. Dozens filed through during the day - many of them graduates of the historic school, which in recent years had served as the city schools’ middle school. The school, which opened in 1923, will soon be demolished.(Photo by Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)(Staff Writer)

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What will be different at Fairborn’s new school building? ‘Just about everything’

Published: Saturday, June 02, 2018 @ 10:44 AM

Fairborn breaks ground for new school

As officials gathered last week to break ground on the Fairborn Primary School, school board President Andrew Wilson was asked what will be different in the new building.

“Just about everything,” he said.

The new school will replace a 60-year-old, outdated building, officials said. The new two-story, 132,000-square-foot building will be constructed next to the playground at the current PreK-2 school. It will cost between $26 and $27 million and accommodate 1,214 students and 110 employees. The design incorporates colors and suggestions from staff.

Students will remain in the existing primary school until fall 2020, when they will move to the new school. Intermediate students will then move from the school on Dellwood Drive to the former primary school while a new intermediate school is built. In summer 2022, the city plans to demolish the old primary school, and intermediate students will return to a new school on Dellwood Drive that fall.

RELATED: Fairborn voters approve two new schools

Moving intermediate students into the current PreK-2 school will prevent the district from needing to create a temporary space for those students and save money, they said.

The 2.95-mil bond levy funding construction for the new primary and intermediate school buildings passed by nearly 60 percent in November.

At a Friday morning groundbreaking ceremony at the current primary school, a few hundred staff members, teachers and parents celebrated the new building. Fairborn Mayor Paul Keller said in his speech that the building is “a huge step forward” for the city.

Keller said the current building doesn’t have the correct power distribution to handle modern equipment and computers. When it rains, water runs across the floor. Staff have been taping fans to electrical components to keep them from overheating.

PHOTOS: See drawings of the new Fairborn PreK-2 School

The old building has a sprawling layout. Wilson said there are probably a half-mile of corridors inside it. That poses challenges when staff move students around the buildings for events such as tutoring.

“Right now it probably takes five minutes to go and get the student and then five minutes to walk him back,” he said.

The new building will be more compact. It will also have centralized air conditioning, while the old building only has window units.

Rooms in the new building will be paired together with removeable dividers. The gymnasium meets the requirements to serve as a tornado shelter.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Cheryl Wylie, who works as a special education aid to kindergarten students.

RELATED: Fairborn council approves plan for new primary school

Wylie is most excited for the separate bathroom that will be attached to the room where the aids work with students. Current bathroom layouts would make it difficult for aids to assist students in wheelchairs who wear diapers, she said.

No students who use wheelchairs currently attend the school, but Wylie said it’s good for the school to be prepared in the future.

Keller brought up the Fairborn slogan, “a city in motion,” and said the new buildings are part of several new improvements for the city, including economic development and new housing.

RELATED: Fairborn schools to start construction on new elementary in 2018

“With these new schools, we really have the ingredients to put our city in motion,” Keller said.

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Mason High School, Ohio’s largest, names new principal

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 9:38 AM

            Bobby Dodd meets Mason High School teachers, Mason community leaders, parents and students on Friday, May 25. CONTRIBUTED
Bobby Dodd meets Mason High School teachers, Mason community leaders, parents and students on Friday, May 25. CONTRIBUTED

The Mason City Schools Board of Education this week unanimously approved hiring Robert “Bobby” Dodd as Mason High School principal beginning Aug. 1.

Dodd will replace Dave Hyatt, who is retiring at the end of the school year and moving to Vermont.

MORE: Former Kettering principal named Mason superintendent

“We love Mr. Dodd’s commitment to connection, his experience, and exciting vision — especially his mantra of working collaboratively to find ways to say ‘yes’ to students in order to honor their ideas, hopes, and dreams,” said Jonathan Cooper, Mason’s deputy superintendent who will become superintendent on July 1.

“He is a student-centered instructional leader who is excited to co-create the next iteration of MHS.”

Dodd has served as the principal of Gahanna Lincoln High School since 2014 and was the principal of New Lexington High School for three years prior to that.

RELATED: Mason principal stepping down

Dodd developed digital academies, college summer camps, a fabrication laboratory that includes a graphics design lab which manufactures and produces products for sale around the world, Early College High School and personalized learning environments, Mason said in a news release announcing his hiring.

Dodd has received awards for his contributions as a connected educator including the 2016 NASSP National Digital Principal of the Year award.

“As difficult as it is to leave Gahanna Lincoln, I am excited to be a part of the Mason City Schools team. I can’t wait to start building relationships and help our students, staff and community do amazing things. Mason High School is one of the finest schools in the state and I hope to work with all of our stakeholders to continue the tradition of excellence,” Dodd said in the release.

MORE: 40 percent absent after Mason High school threat

Dodd received a bachelor’s degree in history from John Carroll University in 1995, a law degree from St. Thomas University in Miami Lakes, Fla., in 1999, a bachelor’s degree in information technology from DeVry University in 2000 and a Master of Arts in educational leadership from the University of Cincinnati in 2009.

Dodd and his wife, Charity, have three children, Sydney, Kaitlyn, and Sophia.

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