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Woodridge board OKs earlier school year in 2015

1/23/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

Members also address renewal levy, water damage at middle school

In the 2015-16 school year, Woodridge Local Schools students will begin school Aug. 17 and get out for the summer May 26.

Following a community survey in which a majority of those who responded favored a proposed calendar that begins before Labor Day and ends before Memorial Day, the Woodridge Board of Education agreed Jan. 14 to continue with the traditional calendar next school year but implement an earlier one in 2015.

Superintendent Walter Davis recommended it because “there are solid academic reasons for it,” he said. With the earlier schedule, the second grading period will end Dec. 18, 2015, so exams will be finished before the two-week winter break.

Several area school districts have changed to an earlier schedule, Davis said, and added that five of the six districts in the Six-District Compact — a coalition of districts, including Woodridge, that share courses — are considering moving their school year earlier.

The biggest complaint of the survey respondents, he said, was that Woodridge Primary School is too hot to open earlier in August.

“The buildings are hot,” Davis said, noting the good timing as the board just voted this past November to begin a major facilities study, looking toward upgrading its buildings.

He recommended keeping the traditional calendar for next year before implementing the new one to give people a year to plan for it.

“We’ll never know [whether people will like the alternative schedule] if we don’t try it,” he said. They can return to a traditional calendar if the board chooses to do so, he said.

The Jan. 14 meeting was the board’s first of the year, and Treasurer Deanna Levenger swore in the members who were re-elected in November, Jan Flasco and Tammy Heffernan.

Also sworn in was newly elected member Linda Ocepek. Ocepek has broad educational experience, having been Woodridge Middle School principal for six years before she resigned in 2010. Before that she was an English teacher and then high school principal in another district.

She decided to run for the school board, she said, because “I really love this community. I have things to learn but hope to contribute, too.”

Board members elected Flasco president and George DeBord vice president for 2014. Meetings will continue to be held at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, in the high school library during the school year and at the Administration Building in the summer.

The board took the second vote required to put its renewal levy on the May 6 Primary Election ballot. The 10-year, 10.87-mill levy, Levenger stressed, is an emergency renewal levy, not a new tax. It provides 23 percent of the district’s General Fund revenue, she said.

In other business, Davis reported on the damage suffered at Woodridge Middle School when pipes burst in the severe cold Jan. 7.

The vents in the dampers of fire suppression pipes in the ceiling of the lobby froze open and the pipes burst, sending water pouring onto the floor and causing ceiling tiles to fall. He showed video of the leaking taken by a school security camera.

Davis praised the members of the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department, who arrived just three minutes after the alarm sounded.

The water headed down the hallway to the gym, whose floor had just been refinished Dec. 20, Davis said. Despite efforts ever since to clean up and dry up the water, the gym floor has begun to buckle, he said, and is not safe for use.

He thanked neighboring schools, Bolich and Roberts middle schools, for allowing Woodridge to use their gyms for basketball games. The Falls Natatorium is also letting Woodridge teams practice there, said Middle School Principal Jesse Hosford.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. in the library of Woodridge High School, 4440 Quick Road.

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