Wolf Creek BOE discusses school policy

WATERFORD – High school students joined Wolf Creek Local Board of Education members and Superintendent Bob Caldwell in conversation about a policy prohibiting multiple study halls Wednesday.

During the regular board meeting in the Waterford High School library, Caldwell explained the policy was conceived as the school adapted to a nine-period schedule that included specialized semester-long classes like small engines and welding. Some students may have been interested in the technical aspects but not in the accompanying book work and opted for an additional study hall period instead, he said.

Caldwell said most students at the school are using study halls appropriately and not as a way to take it easy.

“But we still have 10 percent of our students that try to get out of work,” he said.

The policy was approved unanimously, but discussion continued after the vote. Board members Roger Doak and Jeff Campbell questioned the idea of making a rule directed at just a tenth of the student population. Doak noted Caldwell had spoken earlier in the meeting about the importance of preparing students for colleges and careers.

“But now we’re saying the kids in high school aren’t capable of making those decisions,” he said.

The policy would allow students who feel they legitimately need an additional study hall to appeal to the principal, who could approve the extra period. That ultimately convinced board member Tom Kearns to support the measure.

“If someone really needs another study hall, they can get it,” he said.

Acknowledging board members’ concerns, Caldwell said the policy could be revisited to see how it was working. He also asked four seniors in attendance their thoughts on the policy.

“I think if you have the grades, then you should be able to have two,” senior Chelsey Paxton said.

Senior Tori Pyatt said she meant no disrespect to classes like small engines but it’s something in which she simply has no interest.

“Freshmen are going to run out of classes they can take that they’re interested in,” she said.

Pyatt and Paxton said they both play sports and use their study halls – the first two periods of the day – to catch up on homework rather than doing it late at night. Pyatt said the same was true when she was working after school. When they finish their homework, they can work on scholarships, Pyatt said.

Caldwell said he appreciated the discussion and asked two of the seniors who are members of student council to come discuss the matter with him next week.

“We’ll make this into a civics lesson for student council,” he told the board. “We may be back.”

In other business:

Caldwell told the board he went to the capitol Tuesday, where more than 100 superintendents and other educators gathered for a meeting and press conference to discuss concerns about Gov. John Kasich’s proposed school funding plan. He said some lawmakers who are Republicans like the governor indicated they had concerns about portions of the bill, which would not increase funding to 60 percent of districts in the state.

“Them stating that they’re displeased with the budget bill is powerful,” he said. “There seemed to be an interest in making bipartisan efforts to make corrections.”

Caldwell also asked the board if they still supported the principles behind a resolution they passed in 2011 opposing a bill that would direct public funds to an expanded voucher program for private schools. Portions of the governor’s new plan revisit some of those issues.

The board indicated their position had not changed.

“We’re not opposed to private education,” Caldwell said, specifically praising the two parochial schools in Washington County. “We’re opposed to public money funding private education.”