Written by Kelly Kaczala
Monday, 22 September 2008 11:04
The Oregon City Schools board this month decided against a proposal that would have offered a graduation guarantee to Clay High School students.
The proposal, introduced by School Board vice president Jeff Ziviski, would have guaranteed that students who graduate and who have passed the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT), are capable of meeting Ohio academic standards as measured by the OGT in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.
Ziviski said it would have provided assurance to employers, potential employers, and colleges of high school graduates’ skills for two years following graduation. Eligible students who graduated under the program would have been known as “Oregon Guaranteed Graduates.”
The Lakewood School District is the only public school system in Ohio that offers the program.
The Oregon school board’s policy committee reviewed the proposal, and decided unanimously against it, saying it was too subjective, too costly and time consuming.
“I am disappointed that our district is not open-minded enough to think outside the box for ideas that would improve our district, provide another reliable means to measure our district’s effectiveness, and provide our students and parents with something that no other district in northwest Ohio offers,” said Ziviski after the meeting.
“Also, with surrounding districts in Lucas and Wood counties receiving state report cards of “excellent,” and the options of sending their children to private and charter schools, we are facing increased competition and need to market ourselves to retain our students and give parents an additional reason to move into the district,” he added.
The Ohio Revised Code allows districts to offer a guarantee to a specific level of competence, he said.
“The fact that only one district out of over 600 in Ohio offers such a guarantee should not cause us to shy away from it. As a parent of two children who will be attending schools in the district in the near future, I think it is fair and reasonable to expect my child will graduate with a certain level of competency,” said Ziviski. “I do not feel it is out of line or context for the district to offer this type of guarantee to our parents and students, and as a taxpayer and parent, I would expect the district to stand behind the service quality of education it provides.
School Board President Eric Heintschel said the district’s policy committee did not recommend the guaranteed graduation policy to the board.
“I was opposed to it because I had some concerns of potential liability. If a student were to get a guarantee from us, go out in the workforce, then make an error at a company, could the company sue us?” said Heintschel. “We did not have any concrete information or analysis as to what the potential liability was. I also spoke to a former administrator with the Lakewood School District, and potential liability was brought up by their attorneys, yet they had gone through with the program anyway.”
He was also concerned about the potential costs of the program.
“I had no analysis as to what it would cost the district. If we had to remediate a student in several subjects after we gave the guarantee, what would it cost the district? Based on my personal checks in the Lakewood District, and the policy committee not recommending it to the board, I could not support this policy,” said Heintschel.