Assistant Managing Editor
Members of the Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education this week passed a resolution opposing state legislative plans for changes to the appointment to career center boards of education.
“The heart of the bill takes our school board representatives off and appoints members from different entities,” Superintendent Keith Horner said. “We want to be part of the board.”
His comments and feelings were echoed by local school districts throughout the state.
Currently, representatives of each of the member schools’ boards of education serve as members on their local career center boards. Board of Education member Willie Sammetinger also serves on the board for Apollo Career Center.
The state House of Representatives and Senate have each passed versions of the biennial bill which would amend Ohio Revised Code to appoint members of the business community in place of duly elected or appointed local school board members as the board of education of a joint vocational school district, also known as a career and technology center. The change would essentially privatize career center boards.
“You are looking at losing transparency on boards if this is approved,” Wapakoneta City Board of Education member Pat Gibson said.
Gibson said he felt after career centers, the next to be impacted would be local school boards.
He said the proposal was lumped into the budget bill and it is important that those who are opposed reach out to their elected legislators this week and let them know how they feel.
“They need to hear from you,” Gibson said.
The board planned to send a copy of the resolution of opposition it passed on amended substitute House Bill 59 to legislators on Wednesday, urging them to remove this portion of the proposed legislation from the budget bill.
“The greater involvement of members of the business community would be a welcome development, in theory tying the labor needs of the area served by the career center closer to the educational program of the career center, however, replacing local school board members with members of the business community as the career center board would have the unintended consequence of creating obstacles to the working relationship between the career center and businesses within the area the career center serves,” according to the resolution approved by the board.
School board members agreed unanimously that they didn’t want a career center board to enter into a contract with a business with representation on the board and that it would be a violation of ethics for a career center board member to participate in discussion or vote on any contract or transaction affecting the business the board member owns, manages or is employed by; and that internal business email and other documents of a board member from the business community regarding labor needs, work force development or relationship with the career center could be considered public documents.
Board members said the proposed amendment would likely have an effect opposite of that intended, lessening instead of strengthening ties between the business community’s labor needs and career centers.