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State: STEM students eligible for extracurriculars

Some Clark County schools had questions about sports and transportation.

Students who enroll in the new Global Impact STEM Academy can participate in extracurricular activities in their home districts, the state superintendent said, a decision that came after reports that some Clark County districts wouldn’t allow it.

Northwestern Local Schools Superintendent Tony Orr said he wasn’t opposed to extracurricular participation by his district’s students who attend the new agricultural bioscience school, but he wanted clarification before deciding how to proceed.

Districts got that clarification in the form of a letter from Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard A. Ross.

He cited state law in addressing the issue with Global Impact and county district officials, saying that it requires home districts to offer opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports.

“After an examination of that, and also just discussion with legal counsel, certainly we want to provide what the law allows,” Orr said. “Any students that decide to, if there’s something that is educationally-beneficial that attracts them to GISA, we’ll certainly allow them the opportunity to participate in our extracurriculars.”

But defining what those extracurricular activities are is more complicated, Orr said.

“For example, marching band is not an extracurricular. It is a curricular subject that gets a grade. But playing soccer is an extracurricular,” he said.

Some districts did not initially want to provide transportation for their students who planned to attend Global Impact, but officials said those issues have been worked out.

Ohio law requires public districts to transport high school students within a county to a STEM school if it provides transportation to its own high schools, according to John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education.

The clarification of law for STEM schools isn’t new, said Global Impact Director Josh Jennings.

“Dayton Regional (STEM School), they had to seek out clarification when they started STEM schools,” he said.

“To be fair, this is new for (Clark County districts), too. So they’re trying to figure out how it looks for them, and I can appreciate and respect that. I just want to have a dialogue together so we can do what’s best for kids,” Jennings said.

The governing board recently hired the final four members of its staff last week, according to Janice Welsheimer, chief operating officer of Wilt PR, the Springfield firm handling Global Impact’s public relations.

Those new staff members are, according to Jennings:

• Social studies instructor Jamie Lesesky, who comes from the Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association, an Ohio-based education resources consortium.

• Language arts instructor Michael Payne, who is on his first teaching assignment and was recommended by Wright State University.

• Mathematics instructor Matt Ehlinger from Tecumseh Local Schools.

• Student services coordinator and intervention specialist Jamison Truebenbach from Southeastern Local Schools.

Its consultant, who started in May, is Jill Pfister, assistant dean of the College of Food, Ag and Environmental Science from The Ohio State University.

It previously hired science instructor Rachel Sanders from Springfield City Schools and Kathy Kohlbacher as its administrative assistant.

It also had received 34 applications from potential freshmen as of last Monday, Welsheimer said.

Officials now believe they will at least hit the 50-student enrollment mark by the time the school opens in August through planned recruitment events in Clark, Champaign and Greene counties.

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