School districts up for $15M shared grant

WATERFORD – Wolf Creek Local and more than two dozen other area school districts have been recommended to share in a $15 million grant to expand college credit opportunities and personalize learning.

The Ohio Appalachian Personalized Learning Network, a initiative of the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative consortium of schools, was chosen by a state panel as one of 24 finalists for a total of $89 million under the state’s new Straight A Fund. Recipients must get final approval from the state Controlling Board Dec. 16 before receiving money from the fund, created by Gov. John Kasich and the General Assembly this year to encourage innovation aimed at boosting student achievement and cutting costs.

Wolf Creek Superintendent Bob Caldwell discussed the grant at Monday’s regular board of education meeting, held in the Waterford High School library.

“We’re going to be partnering with these schools and these students,” Caldwell said of the group, which includes Belpre City, Fort Frye and Warren Local schools in Washington County and nearby Morgan, Noble and Switzerland of Ohio Local, along with 19 other public districts and one district-sponsored community school in the region.

The grant funding will support teachers’ education in order to be credentialed, primarily through master’s degrees in particular subject areas, to teach college-level courses. Not only will students in their schools be able to take these courses, but students at other participating schools without a teacher specializing in that area can join in electronically.

“Sometime in the very near future … our teachers will be teaching students in any one of these locations” and vice versa, Caldwell said.

Eventually, the initiative is estimated to save students and their families $3.6 million a year in college costs by allowing them to earn credits while still in high school, according to a release from the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative.

Caldwell said the program will also benefit students in grades six through eight by helping them cultivate skills for college and particular careers.

In other business:

– Caldwell thanked board member Joe Campbell for his service on the board. Appointed in 2010 after the death of a board member and elected to complete the unexpired term the next year, Campbell was defeated Nov. 5 in his bid for re-election.

“I wanted to express appreciation for your leadership and guidance while on the board,” Campbell said.

Waterford resident Cheryl McCutcheon, who will take Campbell’s seat in January, was in attendance.

– The board went into executive session to go over the evaluations of Caldwell and Treasurer Rachel Miller. Their comments will be compiled and put on file this week.

– Paul Mock, southeast regional manager for the Ohio School Boards Association, presented board member Tom Kearns with a certificate honoring his 10 years of service to the board.

– The board scheduled its 2014 organizational meeting for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, in the library, with the regular meeting to follow.