The possibilities are promising, said Don Swonger May 23 in his report to fellow Madison-Plains school board members regarding Gov. Ted Strickland’s Seniors to Sophomores program.
Unveiled in Strickland’s 2008 State of the State address, Seniors to Sophomores enables academically qualified high school seniors to earn a year’s worth of high school and college credit at the same time and at no cost. Seniors who take a full load of courses on college campuses during their senior year will be able to enter a University System of Ohio college as sophomores.
“It could be a good deal for our students,” Swonger said.
Tolles Career and Technical Center in Plain City received one of 42 first-round Early Adopter grants to implement Seniors to Sophomores. Tolles will receive the $100,000 in July; the pilot year will start this fall. Tolles’ partner schools are Clark State Community College, Shawnee State University, and Columbus State Community College.
As one of Tolles’ seven feeder school districts, Madison-Plains will benefit from Tolles’ involvement in Seniors to Sophomores. Exactly how remains to be seen, said Swonger, who is Madison-Plains’ representative to Tolles. Administrators at Tolles will work out the details this summer in order to start the pilot program this fall.
The grant money can be used not only for a Seniors to Sophomores program, but also to encourage high school students to participate in any college-level program, including Advanced Placement, Tech Prep, and Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO).
While participation in Seniors to Sopho-mores requires students to attend classes on participating university’s campuses, another facet of the program allows for college-level classes to be taught on high school campuses. Swonger said he is especially interested in this possibility for Madison-Plains.
The Ohio Department of Education re-quires that, in such situations, the teachers meet certain criteria and be monitored by a college faculty representative. Madison-Plains High School Principal Chris Clark said seven or eight teachers at the high school are interested in becoming adjunct professors.
Tim Phillips, a parent in attendance at the Madison-Plains board meeting, asked if students who enroll in Seniors to Sopho-mores must waive their right to become valedictorians or salutatorians, just as those in PSEO do. He also wondered how participation in the program would affect students’ grade point averages, as college courses aren’t weighted like college prep high school classes can be. His concern, he said, is that while Seniors to Sophomores is a cost-free headstart on college, it could keep some students from earning full-ride scholarships that are based on GPA.
Swonger said Seniors to Sophomores is so new that he does not have answers to Phillips’ questions. Answers will be avail-able as details are ironed out, he said.
In addition to his questions about the college program, Phillips addressed the school board about several topics. First, he praised the district for holding Community Visitation Week in May. Phillips said he visited the middle school and high school and “was very impressed.” He even took a history test while observing one of the classes at the high school.
On another note, he said the district needs better discipline. A sheriff’s deputy recently was called out to the high school to handle a situation, he said.
“We need to hold our kids to a higher standard,” he said. “The same goes for our coaches and our athletes.”
Board President Dave Hunter added, “Parents need to be held to higher standards, too. We have some using the school district as a daycare.”
Phillips also said he is in favor of uniforms or modified uniforms for students. Modified uniforms, he said, could mean solid-color or school-spirit-only shirts and pants or jeans that fit well and are not ripped. Uniforms of some kind would help with discipline, he said, as well as save parents money.
The school board’s May 23 agenda was full of personnel items, including approval of LaDonna Reeder’s resignation for the purpose of retirement. Reeder has served the district as a fifth-grade teacher at Madison Rural Elementary for 20 years. Her last day will be June 30.
“She’s going to be greatly missed,” said board President Dave Hunter.
The board also accepted the resignation of Sharon Ritz, high school art teacher for the last four years. Her last day is June 9.
When Madison-Plains holds commence-ment ceremonies on June 6, two students will graduate a year ahead of schedule. Samantha Briggs and Kirstie Smith loaded their class schedules and, as juniors, have completed all of the requirements to graduate from high school.
Walmart donated $2,500 and Anne Hunter donated $150 to Madison Rural Elementary to aid in the purchase of a Smart Board.
The next Madison-Plains school board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. June 17 in the administrative offices located at the back of the middle school.