JA redesigns education plan

Jonathan Alder students and parents will see a push to redesign their schools over the next three years. The change will not affect the physical look of the buildings or hallways but will hopefully change the way students study and approach their future lives.

District Superintendent Doug Carpenter presented the redesign-in-education concept at the district’s Aug. 13 board of education meeting. The presentation included information gleaned from state and national data showing how far behind the U.S. is in educational programs as compared to other leading countries in the technological and industrial world.

“Technology in the world of children today has increased children’s brain power to be five to six times faster than children of their same age a few decades ago,” Carpenter said. “Internet access to search engines for research has made the repetition of some information in our current educational systems obsolete.”

Carpenter asked the board and the audience if anyone knew why schools   

teach biology first, chemistry second and physics last in curriculum studies. No one in the room had an answer until he explained that American educators in 1916 decided the three sciences would be taught in that order.

“In the world of today’s technology, physics should be taught first,” Carpenter said, noting that physics is the science that holds the key for many of the jobs in the work force today. “We have to do a better job counseling our kids about the needs for tomorrow, and educate the students as well as the parents about the changes needed in education.”

The district’s drive to redesign education in the schools will start in the ninth-grade program and will work its way up through the high school level.

Carpenter ended his presentation by stating that the success of the redesign program will hinge on two important questions: “Are our kids important enough for us to change our thinking about the way we do things” and “What is my part of the change?”

“Redesigning our schools to be a 21st century school requires people to get rid of their bias about education as we have known it and begin educating our students for the world they are entering,” Carpenter said.

In other business, the Union County Chamber of Commerce is creating a Tax Incentive Review Council and an Economic Development Incentive program in Union County. The school board agreed to have a representative on the review council.

Chamber representative Eric Williams told board members that the Plain City village government is expected to vote next month on a measure that would create two Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA) in Plain City, one downtown and a second in the newly constructed bypass area north of the village.

By state law, the creation of a CRA requires village or city entities and school districts within the CRA areas to agree to the conditions of the reinvestment legislation.

Since parts of the Jonathan Alder district lie within Union County’s borders, as well as Madison and Franklin counties, approval from Jonathan Alder is necessary to implement the CRA designation for future development.

Williams said the CRA area in uptown Plain City will allow retail, office, commercial and residential development. The CRA to be created in the bypass area will not allow retail development and instead will concentrate on commercial and industrial development. CRA agreements allow businesses to locate within the area with tax abatements, allowing areas to eventually grow a tax base through commercial and industrial development. Williams said the Plain City area needs more commercial and industrial development tax base.

Speaking in favor of the agreement, Carpenter said, “In reality, it’s a way to get more business locating in Plain City. Plain City’s moratorium on building is ending. We have 370 new homes going in on either side of Route 42 now with more coming in in other areas as well.”

He added that more businesses are needed to offset the number of new home starts in the community.

“We need something to balance with all the residential moving in,” Carpenter said, adding that agreeing to give a tax abatement to new businesses to get a portion of tax monies for the schools is better than getting no money if the businesses don’t come to the Plain City area.

“If residential developers are going to move in, then businesses are going to move in to supply those residents,” he added.

Williams said the school district will always be allowed to veto any tax abatement for businesses if the abatement presented exceeds 50 percent on properties within the school district boundaries.

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