News

Recap of Community Forum

Posted on: December 3, 2015

Understand, get involved, and work together for what is best for our students were all messages shared at the district’s community forum held on December 2 at Milford High School. The focus of the forum revolved around three topics: loss of local dollars to fund community (charter) schools; state testing; and unfunded mandates. Approximately 20 parents/community members attended and listened to a presentation on these topics from Milford Superintendent, Dr. Robert Farrell, and then shared their feedback with Board members and district administrators. Ohio Representative John Becker was also present to listen to what our parents and community members had to say about these issues.

In May, 2015, a survey sponsored by the local county Educational Service Centers was conducted of a representative sample of residents in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren Counties about public education. The survey inquired about issues revolving around local control, mandates, testing, and community schools. A majority of those surveyed favored local rather than state control of public schools, believed that current sate testing hurt rather than helped students’ performance, and that state/local tax dollars should not be given to for profit community schools.

 Community (Charter) Schools

Dr. Farrell shared a chart listing the community schools (often referred to as charter schools) where students living in the Milford School District attended in Fiscal Year 2014. Each of these schools has received a letter grade based on the state's performance index for student achievement. Milford received a B on this performance index and the community/charter schools listed ranged in grades from C- F. In spite of poor performance, a total of $739,346 in local tax dollars beyond state funds was transferred from Milford Schools to these community schools; many of which are controlled by private groups who profit from this state funding. These for profit community/charter schools have received millions of dollars in state funding without the same accountability and transparency measures required of public schools.

 Testing

Dr. Farrell shared a chart of the amount of testing given to Milford students each year by grade level. Currently, Ohio's mandates for standardized testing exceed the minimum federal guidelines.  The state dropped the PARCC tests given last year and reduced the amount of testing for students in the state of Ohio, largely based on public outcry.

 Mandates

A list of mandates placed on public schools throughout the years was shared with the group. It shows the increasing amount of responsibilities required of public schools without corresponding funding. Dr. Farrell gave a long list of all the current underfunded and unfunded mandates from cost of background checks to curriculum materials for new tests, increased auditor fees, post enrollment costs and others.  Although many of these ideas have good intent, they have been either underfunded or unfunded even though they were required by the state or federal government.

After Dr. Farrell’s presentation, participants broke into small groups for discussion and each group’s feedback was shared with the whole group. Next, each group was given the task of sharing what steps the district should act on in all three areas. Participants voted on the steps shared by each group and came up with the following priorities for the district. These issues will be the focus with area legislators from district administrators and the focus of a grass roots advocacy movement from our parents and school community.

Community Schools

  • Require more transparency and lobby for more accountability reporting
  • Re-evaluate “for-profit” status and funding

Testing

  • Collaboration with state and local to create tests
  • Tests should be locally decided

Mandates

  • Voters should be voting on these and not told what to do
  • Re-evaluate and update

“We need to increase the awareness of these issues and the commitment to grassroots advocacy.  Parents need to understand, get involved, and care about their child’s education,” said Milford Board President, Andrea Brady. “We appreciate everyone who came to the forum. They need to spread our message and to grow and build our numbers to make these needed changes.”

 

Click here for the PowerPoint presentation given by Dr. Farrell.