LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - The Lakota school board is meeting Thursday night to discuss the district's budget.
The District Administration is proposing measures at Lakota's secondary schools that cut spending and update academic programming.
The plan calls for making more efficient use of teachers, allowing the District to cut the secondary payroll by about $4.3 million. About 43 teaching positions would be eliminated in the high schools. About 26 positions would be cut at the junior high schools.
Class sizes would be maximized, courses would be consolidated and the school day would be shortened by a half hour. The number of high school students registering for specific elective courses would determine whether those courses are taught. Opportunities for high school credit would be increased at the junior high schools.
The plan also calls for the implementation of a new academic framework called STEAM², which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Applied Arts, Mathematics, and Medical. The goal is to develop the creativity, design and innovation skills of students to better prepare them for the emerging workforce needs of the future.
The STEAM² framework would be phased in over several years starting with a course this fall in seventh grade called Design and Modeling, which introduces engineering and design concepts, and in fall 2013 in the eighth grade called Automation and Robotics/Design Studio, which focuses on automation, robotics and the visuals arts. Those courses would replace courses called Life Skills, which focuses on healthy living and cooking, and Pathways, which focuses largely on career interests.
The STEAM courses would be taught in partnership with Butler Tech, pending approval by the Butler Tech Board of Education. State funding that flows to Butler Tech would be used to pay for the program.
The secondary proposal affects eight secondary school buildings, which cover grades 7-12: Lakota East and West High Schools, the East and West Freshman Campuses, Hopewell Junior, Lakota Plains Junior, Lakota Ridge Junior and Liberty Junior.
The Administration presented the proposal to the Board of Education on Monday, Feb. 13. It is one of several proposals developed by the Administration focusing on various parts of the budget for 2012-13.
At the high school level , Lakota would be able to save at least $2.7 million by cutting about 43 teaching positions. Those positions can be cut by maximizing class sizes, consolidating courses, shortening the school day and increasing opportunities for high school credit in the junior high schools.
Here are changes that would be needed to allow the District to cut the high school teaching positions:
- The number of credits required to graduate would be reduced from 21 to 20. Students would still be allowed to exceed the minimum number of credits.
- Students would be able to take high school courses in junior high school to receive graduation credits.
- The student school day would be changed in these ways: The length would be reduced by 34 minutes, which is a half hour more than the state requires; the day would start at 8:05 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. with a 15-minute earlier start time for the freshman campuses; the day would be divided into six class periods, instead of seven; and the length of class periods would be increased from 48 to 50 minutes.
- Research indicates that a later start time for high school students improves attendance and classroom interaction.
- The length of the teacher work day would remain the same - 7.5 hours.
- Electives would be dropped if a minimum number of students don't enroll in them.
- Students would receive physical education credit if they complete two full seasons on an interscholastic sports team, in the marching band or as a cheerleader.
- The number of student tracks would be reduced from three to two. The "academic track," which is for low-achieving students, would be merged with the existing "college preparation" track. The latest research indicates that student success rate is higher when students are not grouped in lower-level classes. These lower-level students would get special instructional help, as needed.
- Seniors would be required to attend classes only as needed to complete graduation credits. This opens seats for underclass students and mirrors college schedules.
- In an approach called the Individual Graduation Plan, students would receive counseling in their junior years to make sure they'll meet graduation requirements in their senior years.
At the junior high school level , Lakota would be able to save at least $1.6 million by cutting about 25 teaching positions. Those positions can be cut by maximizing class sizes, shortening the school day and switching to a six-period day.
Here are changes that would be needed to allow the District to cut the teaching positions:
- The student school day would be changed in these ways: The length would be reduced by 30 minutes; the day would be divided into six class periods, instead of eight; and the length of class periods would be increased from 47 to 50 minutes.
- Jazz Band would be offered immediately after the six-period day.
- Physical education, health and informational technology courses would be offered, allowing junior high students to get high school credit.
- While developing these proposals, the Administration followed these top priorities:
- Ensuring safe and secure schools;
- Offering student programming that is modern, versatile, flexible, rigorous and relevant to prepare students for their futures;
- Implementing high-quality, efficient and cost-effective educational service;
- Striving to maintain the highest rating on the Ohio Local Report Card.
Administrators spent months developing a plan that would make school operations more effective and efficient.
The Administration has no choice but to recommend layoffs to the School Board. If current trends continue, the district won't be able to pay its bills in two years. About 77 percent of the budget is for personnel costs. In case additional revenue becomes available later, including passage of a tax levy, administrators are prepared to present an updated plan that continues efficient and effective spending while modernizing the curriculum and possibly restoring some programs and operations.
The next budget presentation by the Administration will be at the Feb. 23 Board meeting, focusing on kindergarten through sixth grade. It will start at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Lakota East High School's Main Campus, 6840 Lakota Lane, Liberty Township.
The Administration's budget proposal focusing on the Administration, Athletics and other operations will be presented on Monday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Lakota East.
Ultimately, the School Board will vote on the Administration's recommendations.
More information on budget proposals can be found at www.lakotaonline.com/budget. The community can submit budget questions and comments to email@example.com. In addition, there will be opportunities for the public to comment at each School Board meeting. Individuals are given three minutes to speak.