Parents who want to learn more about the Lakota Schools’ preschool program may attend an informational meeting today.
The meeting to explain the tuition-based preschool for children ages 3-5 will be held at 7 p.m., at the Creekside Early Childhood School, 5070 Tylersville Road, in West Chester Township.
Administrators and staff from each of the district’s three early childhood schools will talk about their programs and answer questions.
The program offers morning classes, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.; and afternoon classes, from 1:20 p.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, at Creekside, Shawnee and Liberty early childhood schools. Classes contain both children with special needs and typically developing children.
Tuition for typically developing children is $245 per month, for nine months. A $50 non-refundable registration fee will be due upon acceptance and will be applied to the last month’s tuition.
Enrollment for the 2014-15 school year for typically developing children is through a lottery with applications being taken through Jan. 31 with parental notification of admission by the end of February.
Those children already in the program may remain there without going through the lottery. Siblings of returning children are given priority during registration. Only children living within the boundaries of the Lakota schools are eligible to attend.
Applications are available at each of the three early childhood schools or online at www.lakotaonline.com. No applications will be accepted by phone or fax.
During a focus group at the Lakota Central Office May 3, 2012, it was the students teaching Lakota administrators on how to better run the state’s seventh-largest school system. In picture, Lakota student Jennifer Shafer shares her opinion. Photo taken by Adam Kiefaber.
To let West Chester and Liberty Township residents catch up with the news that they need to know, WestChesterBuzz.com will list and link to all of last week’s top local stories every Monday.
Former Lakota West football players get chance with Bengals – Lakota West graduates Grant Hunter and Josh Chichester will both have the opportunity to prove to the Cincinnati Bengals that they are worth a roster spot. Hunter, who played linebacker at Butler, was among one of the 14 college free agents that the Bengals signed Wednesday. While Chichester, was one of the three players with local ties who were invited to try out at next weekend’s, May 11-13, rookie minicamp.
Ex-assistant prosecutor indicted in Butler County – Sheila McLaughlin reported last week that a former Butler County assistant prosecutor was himself indicted for allegedly forging an indictment against an alleged robber. Jason Phillabaum, who has been working in private practice, is charged with two counts each of forgery and tampering with records and misdemeanor charges of derelection of duty, interference with civil rights and using a sham legal process.
After-Hours on The Square at Union Centre 2012 schedule – DV8 will kick off the 2012 season of the First Financial Bank After-Hours on The Square concert series in West Chester May 24. The band will perform from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Square at Union Centre. The concert series will take place every Thursday
Mojo Running moves to new location – Mojo Running, the West Chester running specialty store, is itself on the move. The shop relocated from 9318 Union Center Blvd in the U.S. Bank Plaza to a more visible space two miles away, at 8777 Cincinnati Dayton Road in Olde West Chester, near the Post Office, owner Paul Heintz said.
Lakota West sweeps rival – For the second time in four days, a Lakota West pitcher shutout the defending Division I baseball state champions. Behind sophomore pitcher Grant Schuermann, Lakota West blanked the Lakota East Thunderhawks by the score of 3-0 on April 27. Then, last Monday, it was senior Zak Farmer who shutout Lakota East in a 7-0 victory at the Hawks Nest.
During a focus group session at the Lakota Central Office Thursday, it was the students teaching Lakota administrators on how to better run the state’s seventh-largest school system.
The student-led focus group was the first of four sessions with Lakota officials, as the school district looks for more effective ways to educate its students.
“Students will tell you the truth and that is what we are looking for,” Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia said. “We want to make sure we are responsive school system in meeting their needs. In order to do that, we need to ask them.
“This is just the tip of the ice berg.”
After the discussions with students, Mantia said that he hopes to extend an invitation for future focus groups with teachers and eventually with the community.
Among the topics covered, during the two-hour student focus group, included what ways students learn the best, how technology plays a role in their learning, what skills do they think they need to know for their future and what changes need to be made to the school system.
Lakota West senior Melody Stewart shares her opinion during a student focus group at the Lakota Central Office May 3, 2012. Photo taken by Adam Kiefaber.
One change some of the students agreed on was the district needing to be more lenient with online restrictions. Currently, students cannot visit websites like Twitter, Facebook and other blogs while on school grounds.
“Anything that could help us with our studies should be allowed,” Lakota West senior Melody Stewart said. “If that means going on Facebook to get something, then we should be allowed to do that. If you abuse that privilege than it should be taken away, but for educational purposes we should be able to go online and search for what we need.”
Stewart, who played volleyball in the Lakota school system and will continue her athletic career at Northern Kentucky University, also thought that the school system should focus on having more extracurricular activities.
“If I didn’t play volleyball, I don’t think that would be as involved in the school today,” Stewart said. “I think these activities help students feel connected to the school district. I believe we should get students more involved and have more extracurricular activities so they can have that connection and feel what I felt.”
Another Lakota athlete, who still has two more years of high school before he graduates, worries about the change in the academic schedule when the high schools move to six-period days in the fall.
“Next year is going to be a lot harder because we only have six periods,” said Lakota West sophomore Malik Grove, who has played varsity football, basketball and bowling. “You still need to earn enough credits. I will still need another foreign language and a fine arts class. I only have two years left to get those in order to get into to a good college.”
Meanwhile, Stewart hopes Grove and other future graduates will receive the same education she received while at Lakota.
“When I leave, I don’t want to see the school district go down the drain. I want them to keep improving,” Stewart said. “My experience at Lakota was great. I feel that I am very prepared for the future and I want other students who come up to feel the same way.
“I really hope that this meeting will give the school district a lot of information to keep improving our studies … because I believe there are many things that we can to do, to better prepare students for college and the workforce.”
School Superintendent Karen Mantia is reaching out to some of those hardest hit by Lakota’s recent $10.5 million in budget cuts – students.
Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia. Photo taken by Tony Jones.
Mantia said during Monday evening’s Lakota school board meeting that she will invite students in May to discuss in person the sweeping changes.
“We really feel like we owe it to our students to ask them what they think their future will be,” said Mantia.
“This will be the first round of a series of engagement meetings. We will be recruiting a cross-section of about 180 students. Then we will go out to talk to the public,” she said.
Due to cuts in recent years totaling more than $25 million, thousands of Lakota students lost busing this school year and learned in more crowded classes.
The slicing of another $10.5 million next school year, including 141 teaching, classroom aides and school staffer positions – and loss of some elective classes – will mean even more changes next school year.
Lakota voters have rejected three school tax hikes in the last two years and Moody’s Investors Service might lower the district’s bond rating, school officials said.
Mantia said Lakota is one of 10 districts among Ohio’s 613 public school systems to have a top, AAA bond rating.
But Moody’s recently contacted Lakota officials after its levy losses, she said. “They particularly hone in on districts that are losing levies,” Mantia said.
“What communities do makes an impact on what interest rate we pay,” said Mantia referring to the higher interest rates the district must pay for bonds if Lakota’s rating is lowered.
Treasurer Jenni Logan said she and Mantia made a vigorous defense of the district’s financial viability with Moody’s.“We are fighting to keep that good rating and hopefully we will get some good news.”
Lakota officials are expected to provide more details on what programs and what positions will be eliminated by next school year during the public portion of the Lakota Board of Education meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.
According Michael D. Clark of The Cincinnati Enquirer, cuts include 141 teaching, classroom specialist, school nurse and school staff positions, and nine school and central office administrators.
Overall, the school board approved $3.5 million in cuts to its administration, $390,000 to athletics, $2.7 million to high schools, $1.6 million to junior highs, $1.5 million to K-6 and $1.2 million in cost savings to its preschool program. Only $73,000 of the athletic cuts will be saved from the school’s general fund. Most of the athletic cuts are being done to combat a shortfall experienced this year due to lower participation rates caused by last year’s hike in athletic participation fees.
The cost savings of $1.2 million to the district’s preschool program involves a merger that allows Lakota to purchase its preschool services from Butler County Educational Services. The merger will affect an estimated 288 preschool students in Lakota’s three early childhood schools and is expected to eliminate around 17 classroom jobs by the start of next school year.
The $1.5 million in cuts to K-6 includes the restructuring of the delivery of art, music and physical education at the elementary level (grades 1-6). Instead of students receiving instruction in each special subject (art, music and P.E.) one time each week, students will receive only one of the special subjects one time each week for 45 minutes a day.
The $1.6 million in cuts to junior highs includes the change in school day from six and a half hours to six hours and the change to six bells.
The $2.7 million cut from the high schools also includes a shorter day – moving back the current start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:05 a.m. Dismissal will move back one minute from 2:39 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. It also lowered the number of credits needed to graduate, from 21 to 20.
The administration cuts include the elimination of about 50 jobs. Under the approved proposal, Lakota will cut one of its two assistant superintendents, two school building administrators and the dean of students at both Lakota East and Lakota West high schools.
To let West Chester and Liberty Township residents catch up with the news that they need to know, WestChesterBuzz.com will list and link to all of last week’s top local stories every Monday. (Stories are listed in order of date)
Lakota schools’ budget ax falls – The Lakota school board approved just more than $10.5 million in budget cuts for next school year at its meeting last Monday. Overall the school district will cut 141 teaching, classroom specialist, school nurse and school staff positions, in addition to nine school and central office administrators, according to The Enquirer.
Kay Rogers pleads to keep her savings – Former Butler County Auditor Kay Rogers’s attorney asked a federal judge to intervene last Monday to stop federal prosecutors from following through with the garnishment of about $250,000 in retirement savings, according to The Enquirer. According to her attorney, without her savings she will be “unable to support her family” upon her release.
Parents worry about Lakota’s future – The Enquirer’s education reporter Michael D. Clark wrote a story about the parents and their concerns after the Lakota school board made roughly $10.5 in cuts last Monday.
Lakota East students make video to stop cyber bullying – Lakota East and Butler Tech digital media arts students are participating in The Great American NO BULL Challenge in order to fight and bring awareness to cyber bullying. The NO BULL Challenge is a video contest where teens create a two-to-five minute video on how to combat cyber bullying. The local students’ solution is simple – “Post Positive.”
Lakota West grad Matt Klinker retires from pro baseball – After bouncing between the Cincinnati Reds’ AAA and AA minor league teams for the past three seasons, West Chester native Matt Klinker has decided to retire from the game of baseball and is currently training to become a salesman for Pipe Products.
NoLakota spokesman booted after controversial blog post – A blog posted by Rich Hoffman, who up until last week was the spokesman for the anti-school tax levy group NoLakota, went viral and offended many community members. In the post, Hoffman was very descriptive on his opinion of Lakota mothers, who he referred to as “prostitutes.” After The Enquirer featured the post’s content in a separate article, Hoffman was banned from further association with NoLakota. Hoffman has since responded to The Enquirer article on his blog Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom.
Local businesswoman Liz Rogers in the news again – Liberty Township resident Liz Rogers was in and out of the news this past week after she surrendered to authorities on a warrant related to a debt. Later in the week, she would pay off the debt and criticized the media. Rogers’ financial situation has become newsworthy after the city of Cincinnati decided to give her and her husband nearly $1 million in funds to open a soul food restaurant at The Banks.
Lakota West community mourns the loss of a student -A Lakota West junior died and four other students were injured in an automobile crash Friday night. Ezekiel “Zeke” Stepaniak of Liberty Township was the junior who died. Lakota West sophomore Ashley Stacy, 16, was treated for serious injuries at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. According to the school district, her condition has improved. The school district is making counselors available this week at both Lakota West High School and Lakota West Freshman School.
Rich Hoffman of Liberty Township is a public critic of previous proposed Lakota tax levies and is a master bullwihip handler. Photo by Jeff Swinger.
Dan Varney, treasurer of the group that has helped defeat three recent Lakota tax levies, said Thursday that Hoffman has been banned from further association with NoLakota, which claims about 550 members in the Butler County school system.
Varney stated in an email sent to the Enquirer Thursday that “NoLakota does not in anyway condone the items in Rich Hoffman’s Overman Warrior blogs.”
“This is not just in response to the newspaper article, this was started as soon as the blog was brought to our attention,” Varney said.
Varney said Hoffman created the NoLakota web site years ago but “as of Tuesday, Rich no longer has control of the web site and all links to his Overman warrior have been removed. The newly formed “Yes To Lakota Kids” also has a web site, separate from NoLakota that also contained a link to his site that was removed.”
Hoffman last week publicly spearheaded the unveiling of “Yes To Lakota Kids” private fund of $10,000 set up to help needy families cover the higher costs of sports participation fees in the financially troubled district.
The remaining leaders of NoLakota, said Varney, “had a meeting set up to formally address these (blog) issues with Rich last night (Wednesday evening) and explain why we were no longer going to be affiliated with him, but he was unable to attend due to work obligations.” (more…)
Rich Hoffman of Liberty Township is a public critic of previous proposed Lakota tax levies and is a master bullwihip handler. Photo by Jeff Swinger.
Michael D. Clark reports
Anti-school tax activist Rich Hoffman, who has led vigorous campaigns in defeating three Lakota school tax hikes, finds him self at the center of a firestorm for recent online comments derogatory toward women in the school district.
The head of the anti-school tax group NoLakota wrote on his internet blog site that Lakota school mothers are “just prostitutes to their husbands who do everything they can to be away from them aside from the occasional sex.
“Their husband’s roll them over at night and insert their manhood into these women of the bedroom and hundred-dollar bills find their way into their purses. The women don’t know what the man does to earn the money, nor do they care. They are busy saving the world one child at a time with howls of safety and more regulations as they rush to the polling places at election time,” wrote Hoffman, who is also a bullwhip performer and periodic guest on local radio talk shows regarding Lakota funding issues.
In another posting on his “Overmanwarrior” web site overmanwarrior.wordpress.com Hoffman wrote “even with the overwhelming proof I’ve provided the crazy PTA moms and their minions of latte drinking despots with diamond rings the size of car tires and asses to match, (they) plot against me with an anger only estrogen can produce.
“And they have shown no restraint in casting aspersions in my direction by calling me every name the human mind can create in human language. Did they think it wouldn’t get back to me? And being a head for an eye kind of guy I’m happy to return the favor. And yes, I meant it the way I said it. I do not think an eye for an eye taken is harsh enough. I generally leave people alone and let them make their own decisions without my interference until they attempt to impose themselves upon me. School levies are imposing themselves onto my life.
“To me feminists are not women. They have declared themselves to be something different and are therefore open for violent counterattack once they’ve fired the first shot,” Hoffman wrote in another recent posting. (more…)
Lakota West senior Josh Kinney runs with the football during a game against Winton Woods at Nippert Stadium Aug. 27, 2011. High school athletes pay $550 per sport, up from $300 a year ago. Junior high athletes are paying $350 per sport, compared to $200 a year ago. Fees were raised due to cuts before the 2011-2012 school year. Photo taken by Adam Kiefaber.
Officials from the financially struggling Lakota schools were no-shows Tuesday at an event where an anti-tax group pledged to give needy students $10,000 to help them pay for sports fees.
Leaders of NoLakota announced a donation fund they plan to distribute to the families of student athletes unable to pay participation fees and then criticized Lakota officials for not attending their press conference.
The school system is facing a nearly $11 million projected budget shortfall and considering sweeping cuts in student services and personnel for next school year.
Lakota officials said they had no knowledge of the NoLakota news conference.
“The Lakota district always appreciates support for children in our community. A week ago, a district representative asked this group to submit a proposal for its idea. We’re still waiting for it,” said Elliot Grossman, spokesman for Lakota Schools. “We learned about the news conference 24 minutes before it was to start.”
Rich Hoffman, spokesman for NoLakota, which was instrumental in helping defeat three school tax hikes in the last two years, attributed the absence of district officials to “a lack of communication on their end.”
He said his group had communications with Lakota about the formation of “Yes To Lakota Kids” program, which unveiled a website Tuesday for Lakota parents interested in applying for money to pay sports fees. Information can be found at yes-to-lakota-kids.org .
NoLakota is the first anti-school-tax group in Southwest Ohio to raise money from imembers to offset fee costs in a public school district. Lakota high school athletes pay $550 per sport, up from $300 a year ago. Those in grades seven and eight pay $350 per sport, compared to $200 a year ago.
Lakota West players celebrate after beating Mason in penalty kicks in a district final match Oct. 29, 2011. High school athletes pay $550 per sport, up from $300 a year ago. Junior high athletes are paying $350 per sport, compared to $200 a year ago. Fees were raised due to cuts before the 2011-2012 school year. Photo taken by Adam Kiefaber.
Michael D. Clark reports
For the first time in Greater Cincinnati, anti-school tax activists who campaign against school tax hikes now plan to raise money for needy students.
The Enquirer has learned that the anti-school tax group NoLakota has approached Lakota school officials about creating a fund to help student athletes and their families pay for the high participation fees of recent years.
The tax opposition group has been instrumental in defeats of Lakota’s last three school tax hike issues in the last two years.
But unlike similar anti-school tax groups in some other area suburban districts, NoLakota is now in a privately funded $10,000 partnership to help students pay for higher school sports fees, says the group’s founder Rich Hoffman.
Hoffman and other tax opponents have long contended that Lakota’s teachers and their union should be taking the brunt of recent budget cuts through pay cuts rather than eliminating student services and upping sports fees.
“It’s obvious that the greatest casualty in these three levy fights has been the kids, and that’s really unfortunate,” says Hoffman of the “Yes to Lakota Kids” program to be publicly unveiled later Tuesday. (more…)