By LEE MURRAY
Austintown schools have been awarded an “Excellence with Distinction” rating by the Ohio Department of Education.
Deborah Cain, District 8 representative of the Ohio Department of Education, presented the award at Wednesday’s board of education meeting.
“This means they have met the requirements and exceeded them,” Cain said. “It’s the highest you can achieve. It’s a big honor.”
Schools districts earn the distinction based on several criteria, including high standards in curriculum, attendance and graduation rates. The achievement is not easily attained, Cain said.
“There are 613 school districts in the state of Ohio. I’d say 10, maybe 15 percent of them would achieve that. So it’s a big deal,” she said.
At the meeting, board member Harold Porter voiced concern over the postcards sent to local homes informing families of the award.
“I know I harp and unsuccessfully complain about student fees,” said Porter, holding up the mailer, “but this is why I do not pay my student fees.”
Porter said that 15,000 postcards were mailed out, and he estimates that postage cost the district about $3,000.
“I know our schools are excellent, and I don’t need some stupid standardized test from the state of Ohio telling me they are, let alone a waste of money postcard,” he added.
Porter continued to list grievances as part of the closing remarks, adding that the “interview process on hiring principals is extremely flawed.”
“All we have done is follow board policy,” replied schools Superintendent Vincent Colaluca. “I can assure the community of Austintown... there was nothing done inappropriately.”
Porter criticized Colaluca’s handling of an unrelated issue, addressing him personally.
“Listen to your staff ... do not jam this down their throats,” Porter said.
Colaluca noted that it is against the board member code of ethics to criticize employees publicly.