School District Reaches Out To Former ECOT Students


By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor

With the closure of ECOT, Willard City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ritz told members of the board of education he got a letter from the state telling the district it needed to “embrace these kids and get them back.” The district sent out 27 letters to former ECOT students.

“I’ve had three students out of the 27 call and approach me,” Ritz said. “I had to call the state on the three that contacted us. They have been in ECOT for several years. Three of them were 17-year olds who had less than five credits. You need 21 to graduate.

“They will be turning 18 before the end of the year,” he explained. “They approached me and said we’ll enroll but we need for you to sign us out so we can just drop out.”

Ritz said allowing students to re-enroll and then drop out would cause the district’s graduation rate to plummet.

“Three kids will kill our graduation rate in five-years,” Ritz told board members.

Rothhaar said he did not understand why students wanted to to sign back up with the Willard City Schools to simply drop out later.

“I have to sign off on them to drop out,” Ritz explained. “The law says that when their graduating class graduates, they have to wait until that happens until they can drop out, unless I sign off on it and say I am okay with that.

“I refused to sign off,” he added. “I said I’m not doing that.”

Ritz said he has already received a call from the state, unhappy with his stance.

“I said it doesn’t make any sense for me to say go ahead and drop out,” he pointed out. “I don’t believe in that. I started calling our legislators, and they said this doesn’t make sense.”

Ritz said the legislators want the superintendents to come to Columbus and talk about the idea of signing off so students can simply drop out and to address the issue.

“That’s my argument on that,” he stated. “It doesn’t make sense for me just to say, fine you can drop out, and our graduation rate will drop about six-percent.”

The candidates for graduation on June 3 were approved.

Members of the board of education accepted the following resignations or retirements:

- Nic Venerucci - middle school assistant track coach;

- Britton Devier - eighth grade boys basketball coach, and

- Olen Dials - eight grade girls basketball coach.

The following were approved for employment:

- Deborah Barnett and Evan Buss - middle school assistant track coaches (split position);

- Eric Caudill - baseball bench coach;

- Jeremy Slone - middle school wrestling coach;

- Karmen McKelvey - substitute teachers;

- Rick Miller - substitute custodian, and

- Basketball tournament workers - Sue Coder, Val Kuhn, Amy Chandler, Lisa Phillips, Deb Barnett, Rose Keesy, Karen Sickel, Nick Wenzel, Courtney Carnahan, Keven Garrett, Doug Baker and Mike Kluge.

Olivia Bauer was approved as a volunteer for the softball program. Mike Buurma was appointed as a Willard High School letterman to sit on the athletic board.

The Willard City Schools will be required by the state to form a business advisory committee. Willard City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ritz said the committee will have to be in place by August and is similar to one at Pioneer Career and Technology Center.

“It’s a new requirement for schools,” he told members of the board of education at their February meeting.

The idea, Ritz noted, is to be able to give the district any ideas and input on how the education on the local level affects their businesses and industries. All of the people on the advisory committee will have to be approved by the board of education.

Chris Rothhaar, president of the Willard City Schools Board of Education, asked what the criteria was for those serving on the advisory committee.

“There is no real criteria,” Ritz pointed out. “Usually, you try to for that five to seven mark. You try to get a variety of different businesses and industries in your community. One of the county county commissioners, Terry Boose, has volunteered to be on ours.”

Several fundraisers were approved by board members. They include the sales of Domino’s coupon cards for the Washington, D.C. trip; Club Volleyball Tournament on March 18 for the volleyball program, and spirit wear sales for the cheerleading program.

The following donations were accepted for the Dutch Main Tournament:

- Penny Pennell State Farm - Insurance $50;

- Feichtner Family Farm - 10 pounds of pulled pork;

- Willard Youth Sports - $275;

- Pepperidge Farm - Milanos and Goldfish;

- KFC - chicken, cups and napkins;

- La Campesina - chips and salsa;

- Willard Friendship - two dozen doughnuts;

- New Haven Friendship - two cases of water and chips;

- East of Chicago - 10 pizzas;

- Bruno’s - five pizzas;

- Dollar General - six cases of water and six large bags of chips;

- Taco Bell - 24 tacos;

- Hy Miler - six large bags of chips;

- Family Dollar - one case of water;

- Sav-a-lot - 15 packs of buns;

- Country Kitchen - six pies, and

- Subway - six foot long subs.

Other accepted donations included the following:

- From Kiwanis to leader in Me - $100;

- From the United Fund to the youth boys basketball program - $1,250;

- From the Willard Moose Lodge $274.07 and Circle K $1,000 for the uniform fund, and

- From Ohiopyle Prints to Willard City Schools - $42.17.

The board of education will adopt revisions to the 2018-2019 calendar at the next board meeting. The 2019-2020 school calendar will be available on the website for public participation and will also be adopted at the March meeting.

A bid for lawn services and fertilizer was approved to Strategic Turf.

Members of the board of education went into executive session to consider the discipline of a public employee and student. No action followed.

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