Owens updates WB board on 2018 changes

Members of the Western Brown Local Board of Education wasted no time at its July 24 meeting in introducing guest Nick Owens, with the State Board of Education District 10, to speak to the board.
Owens, of Batavia, was voted into office in November 2016, says that he has attended public schools his whole life and currently lives in Georgetown.
District 10 of the Ohio Board of Education consists of Clark, Madison, Greene, Fayette, part of Pickaway and part of Vinton, Clinton, Highland, Ross, Clermont, Brown, Adams, Pike, Scioto Jackson, Lawrence and Gallia Counties.
“Most everyone here knows who I am,” Owens began, “I’m one of the co-coaches, with my boss, Zac Corbin for the mock trial. I’ve been part of it for about five years now. A couple years ago we went to state and that was a pretty big deal, and we were pretty excited about that. We have a real decent team this year and I’m looking forward to the event.”
Owens stressed that he believes strongly in the public school system and said that he has been a little surprised at the recent attack on public schools that he has witnessed. He said the rural Brown County Schools are a lot different than the big city schools like Columbus, Youngstown or Dayton and added that they don’t see what rural schools see.
“In our rural areas and even some of the non-rural areas like in Clermont County and around 275,” Owens said, “our public schools are truely the center of our communities and they are where everything happens.
“I really have been surprised at how education is dispensed throughout the state of Ohio.”
Owens reminded the board that the State Board of Education has the responsibility of administering all the rules and regulations according to the Ohio Revised Code. The state board has 19 members, 11 are elected to office while 8 are appointed by the governor.
Owens discussed several changes in education system at the state level including a reduction in mandated assessments. The 4th and 6th grade Social Studies assessments have been removed through the legislature.
“Currently we have 24 tests that are required of our students,” Owens said. “And of those 24 (22, without the 4th and 6th grade tests), 17 of those are from the federal government. I know we need to have tests, but this many tests, we feel, are not necessary.
“We hope to soon have recommendations to the legislature to reduce that number of assessments even more.”
Owens says he feels that requiring so many assessment tests are not at all fair to teachers, including teacher assessments and how student’s grades can effect a teacher’s assessments on student growth.
He continued discussing the changes in the requirements for the graduating class of 2018. There are now three ways for a student to graduate which are:
• get 18 out of 35 end of  course exam points, seven tests, 5 points a piece;
• receive a non-remedial score ACT or SAT set at 18 for English and 22 for math;
• Career tech component, getting credentials efficient on different exams.
“Thankfully, this has now been tweaked and legislature has adopted additional actions for the class of 2018,” he said. “The last thing we want is a kid who could be the next Mozart or the best at something, and they can’t graduate high school because they can’t get some arbitrary score on an algebra test.
“A student shouldn’t be labeled for that deficiency when they are so skilled in so many other ways. This will not lead to successful kids. And a test doesn’t show hard work or determination. These kids deserve a fair shake.”
The board thanked Mr. Owens for all the work he was doing at the state level.
In other actions at the meeting the board took the following actions:
• Hired a new varsity girl’s basketball coach, following an executive session, Tim Chadwell will take the helm of the varsity girls basketball team and the board was pleased to announce the hiring.
• The board also signed a three year contract with the Certified Employees union which will run until 2020. The board now begins negotiations with classified employees.
• The board approved the agenda, the June 19 and June 26 minutes, the June financials and June investments.