Local Pictures
Classified Ads
 Announce Births
Email Us
Buy A Copy
Local Links

click here to
The Daily

web page consultants:
Servant Technologies


03-19-03: Minster will try to make history
The Daily Standard
    MINSTER - Minster Local Schools board of education gave the go-ahead to seek charter school status for the entire school system, a move that could make state history, and in its wake, more than a few big waves in Columbus.
    At Tuesday night's special meeting, board members gave unanimous authorization to district Superintendent Halver L. Belcher to continue procedures to enter into agreement with the Ohio Department of Education to become a charter school. The official vote to submit the application is expected within the next two weeks.
    Application deadline is April 6 and Belcher assured board members that all paperwork is in order to proceed.
    Although both New Bremen and New Knoxville boards of education recently nixed charter attempts for their districts listing nonspecific risks and uncertainties, Minster board President Carol Ranly said the only way to know if it can be done is to do it.
    Belcher and board members say their research has been careful and thorough in ferreting out what can be known regarding this unprecedented action, but acknowledge ODE sources are becoming more obstinate.
    ODE has advised the three school districts against moving forward with the plan, but Belcher easily recalled another time a dozen or so years ago when the state gave the same advice.
    "When several school districts went together to form Tri Star Compact, the state didn't want us to try it because they said it couldn't be done. Tri Star is thriving and, in fact, the state later used it as a model for other Ohio compacts," Belcher said.
    Belcher did not discount that state legal action may loom somewhere along the way, but he said the local school system is protected by a simple fact of the law.
    "The attorney general could bring a lawsuit on some technical issues. But, that would only continue until we back out. The charter law allows us to immediately reconvert to a public school. Plus, I don't see us spending any huge amount on a lawsuit," he said.
    Representatives of the Minster Teachers' Association voiced concerns about how charter status would affect their union contract and working conditions.
    No change, Belcher said.
    The same response applied to the only parent in attendance when she asked if her children's school life would change if they went to the charter school or to the public school.
    "They'll be in the same classrooms, same teachers, same building. The only difference would be in state funding. We receive $1,606 per student from the state as a public school. As a charter school we would receive $5,058 per student," said board member Ted Beckman.
    There will still be a public school in Minster because it has to serve as a sponsor of the charter school. Only one third of the student population will need to convert to the charter school in order for the total system to break even in funding, school officials said.
    As for athletics, Belcher said he would recommend all students grades 7 through 12 enroll in an English class in the public school, thus satisfying public high school eligibility requirements.
    In summation, Belcher said reasons to move forward with the charter plan are threefold: additional state funding will enhance students' learning and development opportunities, reduce local reliance on taxpayers, and make for more equitable and adequate state funding.
    If the conversion of an entire school system to a charter school truly cannot be done, Belcher said Minster's action would at least force the state to produce the laws that say so.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822