During a recent work session of the Buckeye Valley school board July 7, design firm OHM went over plans and preconstruction matters for the district’s two new elementary buildings.
“They will be getting the site ready this fall for construction,” said Andrew Miller, Buckeye Valley superintendent. “We’re looking to break ground in January or February.”
Miller said the district wants to hold a back-to-school night with the hope of getting the two communities involved in a contest to name their buildings.
The district’s goal is to complete the project in time for the 2018-19 school year, Miller said.
Construction of the new elementary buildings was made possible by passage of a $31.25 million bond issue last November.
Earlier this year, the district discontinued the pre-K program for the 2016-17 school year. The district was not able to meet requirements of the state’s “Step Up to Quality” system.
District officials told parents and the school board they would look into a program model offering both a pre-K class and all daycare at a school board meeting in May.
“I did some research a couple of months ago,” said Miller. “We weren’t able to find a model that would fall under one license.”
Miller said the district did add another one-to-one special needs peer program. Each special needs child is paired with a student. “We added another special needs-peer model,” Miller said. “I feel good where we landed on that, we were able to accommodate those who want to be a part of that.”
In another matter, Miller said he is still awaiting guidelines on serving transgender students.
Earlier in this year, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice addressed transgender students’ rights May 13 in a letter to school districts across the nation, ordering that districts allow students to use facilities according to the gender with which they identify. The directive from President Barack Obama’s administration says that schools that refuse to comply and accommodate transgender students with rest rooms and locker rooms could lose federal aid, according to the Associated Press.
Miller reported to The Gazette the district has a “handful of transgender students.”
Before school let for the summer, Miller said he was hoping for more guidance in the matter. “We’re hopeful over the summer for specific guidance from the courts, legal counsel or the Ohio Department of Education,” he said.
Now that school is close to starting, Miller hasn’t been given any other guidance. “To my knowledge there have been no new updates from the Ohio Board of Education,” Miller said. “We plan to check with our attorney, but no new guidelines.”
“We’ll go with the current practice of letting kids use the unisex bathroom,” Miller said. “From our end, it has worked out really well, but it would be nice to get some clarity from the courts.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.