Eye on Education


Why It’s So Hard for Rural Schools to Pass Levies

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

There are no walls or doors between classrooms at Warren Local schools. Instead, the school has put up bookshelves and lockers as makeshift walls.

Carrollton Schools in rural Carol County hasn’t passed a levy since 1977. Union Local Schools in rural Belmont County hasn’t passed an operating levy since 1976. And the mid 1990′s was the last time officials at Warren Local Schools in rural Washington County managed to pass a levy for new funds to run the district.

Tom Gibbs, the superintendent at Warren Local, says he’s tried to pass six levies in the last four years, and failed each time.

In fact, since 2000, Washington County has passed just 20 percent of its schools requests for new local money.

Compare that to Franklin County, which includes Columbus. It has passed 51 percent of all new school levy requests. Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, has passed 43 percent of theirs over the last 13 years.

Ohio has a rural-urban funding gap, and it shows.

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Ohio Charter School Serves as Safe Place for Gay Students

Molly Bloom / StateImpact Ohio

ACPA students wait backstage at the school's drag show.

At her old school, 16-year old Katie Johnsen says she couldn’t walk down the hallway without someone calling her a “dyke.”

After she cut her hair off, things just got worse.

Johnsen is now a student at Arts and College Preparatory Academy, a Columbus charter school where about a third of the students identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.

The school had gained a reputation as a place welcoming to gay students, and to other students who don’t quite fit in. It offers classes in gay history, and students write and perform plays about tolerance.

Founded in 2002 with about 60 students, Arts and College Preparatory Academy, or ACPA, now has 240 students and an”A” rating from the state for its academic performance. Continue Reading

Rural Schools Struggle to Prepare for Common Core’s Online Tests

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Students at Union Local MIddle School work on PowerPoints in a computer class. The district says they don't have nearly enough computers to meet the tests to be administered by the Common Core curriculum.

Testing in schools is moving quickly from pencil and paper to computers.

That’s kind of a problem for rural schools; many don’t have the technology.

But a new curriculum, called the Common Core, is pushing districts in many states – including Ohio – into the Internet era.

That’s because the new standardized tests that accompany the Common Core will be given online.

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Ohio Moves to Regulate Seclusion, Restraint in Some Schools

Molly Bloom / StateImpact Ohio

Morgan Linnabary says he was placed in a seclusion room dozens of times.

Morgan Linnabary was eight years old when he was sent to a special school for children with behavior problems.

At the new school, when he mouthed off to teachers or got upset, he was sent from his classroom to the isolation room: a plywood box inside a separate room down the hall.

It happened dozens of times, Morgan said.

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StateImpact Ohio 2012: Our Photographic Highlights of the Year

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What Happens When Charter Schools Rebel Against White Hat

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Joey Carr used to attend a White Hat operated Life Skills Center. Now he's at Towpath Trail High School, where he says things are much better.

When Ohio’s charter school movement began one company came to symbolize the change – White Hat Management, a for-profit firm based in Akron.

White Hat ran more than a dozen charter schools, giving parents of kids in struggling public schools a choice.

But some of those schools came to dislike White Hat’s practices, and they chose a different path.

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Ohio Online School Students Form Online Chorus

Molly Bloom / StateImpact Ohio

Three OHDELA students — from left, Hannah Fulks, Erika Blon and Randi Beatty — sing together at an in-person practice session.

Diana Newlon sits on her living room couch leading chorus practice.

With her laptop balanced on one arm of the sofa, she looks at a screen full of videos of girls singing Jingle Bell Rock. Each girl is in her own little square, arranged Brady-Bunch credits style on the screen.

Newlon teaches at the Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy (OHDELA). And she’s the founder of perhaps the only all-online school chorus in the state, or even the nation.

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What the “Fiscal Cliff” Would Mean for Ohio Schools

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Sixth graders are Memorial School in Cleveland enjoy a lunch of chicken nuggets and tater tots.

Pretty much anyone that relies on federal funding of any kind has been watching Congressional budget negotiations like a hawk.

Lawmakers face a January first deadline to reach an agreement on deficit reduction, otherwise automatic tax hikes and budget cuts go into effect.

Education would be one of the areas hardest hit by the cuts, according to some estimates reducing federal funding to Ohio schools by about $114 million.

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