Districts' situation is unusual, official says
A meeting between state officials and compact superintendents is planned for later this month.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LORDSTOWN -- Determining options for the districts remaining in the Gordon D. James Career Center compact is new territory for state education officials, as well as district leaders.
"The Ohio Department of Education didn't have the question posed to them until the 21st of December so it's taking time to do the research," said Vicki Melvin, interim director of ODE's office of career, technical and adult education.
Niles, which sends the most students to the Gordon D. James Career Center and pays the most in tuition, opted last month not to enter into a new contract with GJCC. The district is asking to become a part of the Trumbull County Career and Technical Center instead.
That leaves Lordstown, which is the fiscal agent for the compact, Howland, Weathersfield and McDonald school districts looking for options.
It's also new territory for state education department representatives.
"The Career and Technical Planning Districts have been pretty stable," Melvin said.
Five-year contract: Districts in a compact must sign at least a five-year contract and those that are part of joint districts usually stay there for many years, she said.
About two years ago, Perry Local School District in Massillon, which had provided career and technical programs in-house, opted to join the Stark County Career and Technical Center. But even that situation was different from the one facing James center districts.
"It's rare to have a compact district with a building called a career center," she said. "There's not one like it in the entire state."
Melvin said department officials are researching the issue, but she expects the options will be spelled out for the remaining districts at a meeting next Tuesday.
State law: Under Ohio law, school districts must provide at least 20 classes and 12 programs of career and technical education for students in grades 11 and 12 who want them.
The law provides three ways for school districts to meet that requirement: providing the programs in-house, becoming part of a joint district or contracting with other agencies to provide the programs.
To change career center providers, Niles must first be accepted by TCTC and then submit a plan to the state board of education for approval.
"The state board has a process," Melvin said. "We haven't had this issue for a number of years, but the state board would collect as much information as possible and have public hearings."