House Bill 59 threatens Avon schools

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  • 5-9-13: Avon school administrative transitions

  • 5-11-13: Avon education reform

  • 5-13-13: Preliminary floor plan of new middle school

  • 5-15-13: School resource officers

  • 6-1-13: Commencement at CSU for class of 2013

    [House Bill 59 threatens Avon schools]

    By Rebecca Turman March 28th, 2013

    AVON -- Avon Local School District officials aren't happy with everything Governor John Kasich's proposed biennial budget (HB 59) has to offer ...

    At the March 19 [2013] Board of Education meeting, members adopted a resolution formally expressing their opposition to certain provisions in HB 59.

    "Be it further resolved that the Avon Local Board of Education expresses its opposition to any legislation that seeks to transfer public dollars to support private education," the resolution states.

    According to the resolution, as part of HB 59, the plan is to expand the Educational Choice Scholarship Program with programs that will "increase the number of publicly-funded vouchers for students to attend private or parochial schools." ...

    As part of the plan, during the second year of the program vouchers would begin to include first-graders as well, "totaling $25 million over the biennium," the resolution adds.

    These vouchers would be distributed regardless of the academic performance the school district upholds.

    "We have approximately 700 private (school) students that live in Avon," Avon Local School District Treasurer Kent Zeman said in a recent interview.

    With the possibility of losing approximately $5,700 per student from the state should the program make it into the budget, Zeman said it could cost the district close to $4 million if implemented.

    "That is a 5.9-mill levy for Avon Schools," Zeman estimated.

    The second part of HB 59 that the district disagrees with is the voucher expansion that would provide EdChoice vouchers "to students enrolled in schools that fail to meet the Third Grade Reading Guarantee for two successive years," which would ulimately reduce funds for districts, therefore "resulting in fewer resources for the education of remaining students," the resolution states ...

    Details of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee haven't been worked out at this point, but according to Avon Local School District Superintendent Mike Laub, "as a whole it has some financial impact on our district."

    Laub said the intent of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee is to identify readers who are struggling by third grade. The new program would require specific tools to be used, and teachers would need to have specific licensure, he said, which would come at a cost to the district.

    "We are trying to figure out how that licensure piece will work," he said.

    "The idea is that we would retain students that don't pass," Laub said, adding that he personally doesn't feel that retention is a form of intervention. "(Right now) we do a really good job of identifying and intervening with students that are struggling early on." ...


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    District readies for administrative transitions in preparation for new middle school

    By Rebecca Turman March 21st, 2013

    AVON -- Last week the Avon Local School District announced that Avon Heritage North Elementary School Principal Brent Betts will be taking on a different role beginning next year.

    Through eNews, the district shared that during the 2013-2014 school year, Betts will take on the position of associate principal at Avon Middle School.

    "The move is bittersweet as I've spent 11 years at Heritage North working collaboratively with the staff, students and parents," Betts wrote in an e-mail to staff that the district shared last week ...

    District officials decided adding another administrator at the middle school was necessary in order to support the growing student population and staff.

    Dr. Craig Koehler will remain the principal at Avon Middle School, Avon Superintendent Mike Laub said.

    "There will be over 700 students at the middle school next year," Laub wrote in a recent e-mail. "We need an additional administrator there now. When it becomes three grades with 1,100 students the appropriate administrative staffing (will) be in place." ...

    "When Heritage [North and South] becomes a (grades) 3-5 building in 2015-2016, Mr. (Jason) Call will be the principal and the district will be hiring an assistant principal to support the 1,100 students we anticipate at that time," Betts noted in an e-mail.

    Call currently serves as principal for Heritage South, which houses third-and fourth-graders. Until the new middle school is opened for the 2015-2016 school year, Laub said, an interim principal will take over Betts' role at Heritage North for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years ... makes now."


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    Avon superintendent plans to hold community meetings to discuss education reform

    By Rebecca Turman 3-1-13

    AVON -- In the upcoming months, Avon Superintendent Mike Laub is hoping to begin to prepare the Avon community for the statewide education reform that will impact the curriculum, assessments and report cards for the Avon Local School District.

    During the Feb. 19 [2013] Board of Education meeting, Laub presented a PowerPoint slide show, updating the board on the changes that are expected to be in place by the 2014-15 school year ...

    The district will soon see a change in the mathematics and English curriculum.The State Board of Education has adopted the Common Core State Standards for grades K-12 for the subjects as part of Ohio's New Learning Standards for academic learning, Laub said.

    But before Common Core can be put in place, the state needs to change the way students will be assessed for the curriculum change. According to Laub, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is the assessment model the state intends implement.

    During the meeting, Laub said Common Core may be new to Ohio schools, but for 45 other states it is already a curriculum standard ...

    See the PARCC website,

    When PARCC is put in place, Laub said students will need to take tests online. The district still needs to figure out the logistics for testing, he said, especially since in most schools there are not enough computers for all of the students in an entire class to take an online test at the same time.

    However, the perk to online testing will be, "more immediate testing, more immediate results," Laub said ...


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    District reveals preliminary floor plan of middle school

    By Rebecca Turman 2-27-13

    AVON -- Avon Middle School will have a whole new story -- literally -- during the 2015-2016 school year, when it is scheduled to open.

    At a Feb. 20 meeting, Avon schools Superintendent Mike Laub revealed the preliminary plans for the new, two-story Avon Middle School building that has a 160,000-square-foot footprint.

    "Two-story buildings are more efficient and also take up less land," Laub wrote in an e-mail last week, adding a two-story building would cost the same as a single-story facility.

    During the Feb. 20 meeting, Laub said, "We are in (the) floor plan, design part of the process."

    "We have to make a decision -- A lot of things are going to ramp up very quickly," he added.

    In the next phase of the project, Laub said how that the school footprint will fit on the district-owned property on Long Road will need to be determined, including how access roads will need to be set up on the land.

    "It's exciting to look at a picture (of a new middle school), finally," Laub said, adding the district has been trying to pass a bond issue for quite a few years.

    On the November 2012 ballot, Avon voters finally approved the issue, which will raise $32 million over 28 years to build a new middle school.

    "This really will help alleviate the pressure we have spacewise come (the 2015-2016 (school year)," Laub said.

    The new school building will hold grades 6 to 8 and it is set to hold the district's enrollment projections through 2021.

    During the question and answer period of the meeting, one resident asked whether the new facility would be capable of expanding to grow past the 2021 enrollment projections.

    Laub said the school could be expanded at the ends.

    "The building is being built -- so that we can take advantage of natural lighting -- for energy efficiency," Laub said.

    The new middle school will also be built with technology in mind, with wireless technology throughout, according to Laub.

    The front of the proposed building is academically oriented while the back of the building is geared toward the fine arts, Laub said during the meeting.

    On the academic side, Laub said, "We have 45 classrooms -- 15 classrooms per grade level -- and 12 labs."

    The labs are intended for science and technology, Laub said.

    "All together, that adds up to 57 learning spaces," he said.

    The current middle school has about 24 learning spaces, Avon Middle School Principal Dr. Craig Koehler said ...

    With hallway traffic a growing concern at the current middle school, Laub said, "There's a lot of room for kids to move in the (new middle school) hallway, which is quite honestly super important." The hallways will be 14 feet wide, he said.

    More than 1,000 students will attend the new school when it opens, according to Laub. When it is "middle of the road" full, Laub said, it will house 1,200 to 1,300 students.

    "They (students) will tend to move with their grade level mates," Laub said of the flow of the new middle school. "We are going to try to keep things separated to a certain extent."

    The new middle school's media library will be located on the second floor.

    At first the architect, Lesko Architecture, had proposed a first-floor media library with a "beautiful glass front," Laub said.

    However, due to safety concerns, district officials thought moving the library upstairs would be a smarter move ... On the artistic side, Laub said two art rooms and two music rooms are on the floor plan.

    "We have what's marked on here as a fitness room," he added. 'I'd make it a multipurpose room. It could be used as third music room or could be used for wrestling practice."

    At 160,000 square feet, Laub said district officials are to the point where they are "playing around a little bit with injecting a little square footage here, making it smaller there." ...

    Contact Rebecca Turman at


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    City, district officials work toward hiring school resource officer

    By Rebecca Turman 3-20-13

    AVON -- Beginning next school year [2013-2014], the Avon Local School District may have the help of a school resource officer or two ...

    "We had been discussing school resource officer options, but the feedback from the community was certainly a factor," Avon Superintendent Mike Laub wrote in an e-mail earlier this week. "The Avon Police Department was also a big part of this decision. I am very thankful for Chief (Rich) Bosley and his offer to explore this together." ...

    Laub noted that in the past the district had a D.A.R.E. officer, but not a school resource officer.

    As of Monday, Laub said the district is still working out the details in terms of sharing the cost of the new employee(s).

    Avon City Council discussed the topic during its March 18 [2013] work session. Council reviewed an ordinance that would include the school resource officer as an unclassified position in the city ...

    "The schools are paying for half of the cost," Avon finance Director Bill Logan noted, adding Bosley is looking into a grant that could possibly pay for half of the cost ...

    The job responsibilities listed for the position, per the city of Avon, are as follows:

    Under general supervision, serves as a liaison between the Avon Police Department and the school administration, students, parents and the community;

    assists in the planning development and implementation of safety awareness, drug awareness and crime prevention programs;

    patrols assigned areas in order to protect students, citizens and property;

    searches premises and individuals, arrests suspected criminals; and

    prepares reports and other documentation.


    District forum opens discussion on the right level of safety needed to protect students

    By Rebecca Turman 2-13-13

    AVON -- What's "safe"?

    How can the Avon Local School District ensure students are protected from unknown dangers?

    These questions represent the general topics discussed during the safety forum held at Avon High School Feb. 5 [2013].

    Avon Superintendent Mike Laub, who facilitated the discussion, let concerned residents who attended the forum know early on that the purpose of the meeting was not to reveal the district's safety plan to the public.

    However, the purpose of the meeting was to have an open discussion with the community about how the district can better protect the Avon Local School District students and help prevent situations from occuring in the first place ...

    After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, Laub said he had a lot of feedback from parents and the community, with people offering up suggestions ranging from arming the district staff members to hiring armed guards to protect the students ...

    One female audience member said she thinks everyone jumps to the conclusion that more guns will solve the problem. "What about investing in more counselors in the schools?" she asked, adding the district should consider making one-on-one counseling mandatory for students ...

    One woman said since the law enforcement has dedicated personnel to catch online sexual predators, she wonders whether the district can have dedicated personnel go online and monitor what students post on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

    "Being aware of what's going on, and communicating with us is going to be the No. 1 way for us to catch that stuff," Laub said. "They know we are watching, and they still put it out there."

    [Avon High School Principal Kristina Dobos Buller] noted that social media starts a lot earlier than some parents think -- around third grade ...


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    Commencement ceremony will be held at CSU for class of 2013

    By Rebecca Turman 2-25-13

    AVON -- The Avon High School class of 2013 will be the first graduating class to graduate on unfamiliar soil.

    [Graduation is set for 2 p.m. on June 1, 2013, at the Cleveland State University Convocation Center.]

    With the number of guest tickets available for graduation dwindling over the past few years, due to the limited amount of space available in the Avon High School gymnasium and the growing graduating class sizes, the Avon Local School District has made the decision to move the commencement ceremony to a larger venue this year.

    Avon High School Principal Kristina Dobos Buller said she is personally "saddened" by having to change the location ...

    In 2012, 247 students graduated from Avon High School, she said. Approximately 263 students are slated to graduate in the class of 2013, according to Dobos Buller.

    "There are years that we have 100 percent (of the students graduate)," she said in a recent interview. The class sizes are expected to increase even more in the upcoming years, according to Dobos Buller. "Next year is 308, and every year after that is 300 plus," she said.

    Before the high school went to a ticket system in 2011, the graduation ceremonies were pushing the limits in terms of the maximum occupancy capacity. Dobos Buller said the capacity for the gym is approximately 1,700 people ...

    The district looked into other nearby venues, such as the Lorain County Community College, the Lorain Palace Theater and the Magnificat High School auditorium, but the CSU Convocation Center ended up being the best fit.

    Renting out the facility for the ceremony will cost the district $7,000 total, according to Avon Local School District Treasurer Kent Zeman ...

    "The guests will be (seated) in the lower bowl (of the center)," Dobos Buller said. "Students have an unlimited number of guests now."

    Asked if free parking will be available to guests the day of the ceremony, Dobos Buller said, "Not necessarily."

    Graduating students will be transported on a bus provided by the district, which will drive them to the convocation center.

    "The big joke is, 'It's your last school bus ride,'" Dobos Buller said, adding the students will be taken to the ceremony venue earlier on in the day to rehearse prior to the ceremony.

    When guests arrive at the venue, the students will be held in a waiting area, she said.

    Dobos Buller said the expectation is the students will ride home with their loved ones.

    While unlimited tickets are available, Dobos Buller said only one free parking pass will be given to each graduating student for their family and/or friends to use as needed.

    Graduation is set for 2 p.m. on June 1 [2013] ...

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