April 17, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
58°F

‘All hands on deck,’ Medina Schools interim superintendent urges

MEDINA — Medina Schools interim Superintendent Dave Knight urged district employees to start the school year on a positive note Thursday.

“ ‘Moving Medina forward’ is what we’re about today,” he said, which is also the slogan for the November levy campaign.

Wearing a souvenir Put-in-Bay T-shirt emblazoned with the words, “Don’t give up the ship,” interim Medina Schools Superintendent Dave Knight encourages district staff in a speech Thursday morning at the Medina Performing Arts Center as they prepare for the first day of school, which is Monday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

Wearing a souvenir Put-in-Bay T-shirt emblazoned with the words, “Don’t give up the ship,” Knight gave a somewhat unconventional speech during the district’s traditional opening ceremony, when teachers and staff return to the school buildings to prepare for Monday, the first day of classes.

Knight compared the district to a ship sailing toward an island paradise.

“I need all hands on deck,” he said.

“There are some obstacles and some icebergs out there,” he said, while showing a PowerPoint photo of the Titanic sinking. Laughter filled the auditorium.

Knight then showed another photo of him with Medina City Teachers Association President John Leatherman and Mark DeFoor, president of Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 305, in a paddleboat on Knight’s farm.

“We are in this boat together,” Knight said. “What we need to remember is we’re surrounded by a group of friends. Don’t be afraid to call on them to seek help in a number of ways.”

During his speech, Knight talked about the five-year, 5.9-mill levy on the November ballot.

“It’s part of doing business in the state of Ohio,” he said of levy requests.

If approved, the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $206 a year.

The “banded elementary school concept,” proposed by the administration for next school year if the levy fails, includes closing Heritage Elementary School, and would make students switch buildings every two years.

Under the plan, Garfield and H.G. Blake schools would house kindergarten and first grade, Eliza Northrop and Ralph E. Waite would house second and third grades, and Ella Canavan and Sidney Fenn would contain fourth and fifth grades.

Knight showed a PowerPoint slide highlighting the positives of neighborhood schools and one building for kindergarten through fifth grade: closer to home, convenience for families, the fact that most students walk, strong parent-teacher organizations and stability.

He encouraged teachers and staff members to share with him and the community what goes on day- to- day at school by taking pictures and videos with their smartphones or writing a paragraph.

“Our community deserves to know how we are serving them, helping them,” he said.

Leatherman spoke as well. He encouraged staff to see the district as a family.

“This is something we once had, and something we need to return to,” he said. “We don’t make widgets, ladies and gentlemen, we inspire children.”

Knight, a retired principal of Sidney Fenn Elementary School, was hired by the school board after Superintendent Randy Stepp was placed on paid leave April 8, pending the outcome of a special audit by Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost into Stepp’s use of a “carryover” fund held by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center.

Two weeks later, the board voted to rescind Stepp’s new contract approved in January, which had included an $83,000 signing bonus.

Stepp responded in May by suing the school board in federal court. The board has countersued, demanding the $83,000 bonus be returned.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.

  • Wake up Medina

    Please give up the ship, Medina School Board. You are the sinking ship, because you drove this Distict directly into the iceberg. Nice try. Hey voters in Medina, let’s not forget that there will be another levy request in the next two years if this current levy passes, and if the future levy does not pass, these promised additions to be reinstated with the passage of this levy, will be removed when the next levy fails. Also, with the current levy and the future levy, within the next two years, property taxes will go up around $1,000. Is that what we want. Also, ask the school board how many teachers in this District actually reside within the Districtnand are eligible to vote for the levy. Not many, therefore they will reap the benefits without THEIR taxes going up. Nice try…oh yeah, you are very Transparent.

  • Michele Segedi Hjort

    I would rather pay more taxes,than have my child uprooted every 2 years. Some children have a hard time just changing grades,let only going to a new building. Getting the busing and special programs back to help the children would be worth it. Think of the gas prices and how much you would have to spend a year on that to transport your child/children everyday. Especially if you have children in different grades and they would have to be at separate schools all at the same time. I don’t know about you,but I know I can’t be in more than one place at a time.Look at the big picture. If the levy passes- we get buses back-less driving for parents= save on gas,not late for work,teachers come back= more time with students class size decreases,special needs programs back for gifted and those at a slower pace=better help for our children more one on one needs met.n If the levy fails-less busing,more parents driving to multiple schools,paying more for gas,children arriving late due to having to run all over town,parents and children in trouble for being tardy.Bigger classes less time for teachers to help children who are fast paces or slower,no help for gifted or special needs.Not getting the proper education they need due to lack of teachers,counselors and others. In the long run our children would suffer in school and we would still be paying more in gas than you would for taxes per year.n As far as the teachers not living in the area to vote, does that even matter if the are good teachers and teaching are children what they need to grow and learn to be productive people as adults.Or do you want the trend to go up with children dropping out because they couldn’t get the help needed when they were in school and got too frustrated and they gave up. They wouldn’t barely be able to read and write and the most work they would be able to get would be factory jobs or working in fast food all their lives. Most places won’t even hire you now unless you have a diploma or GED.n Think everyone,this is the future of our children. What do you want for them. what can or will you give up to better their education. Those of you that know Mr. Knight know he would not lead you down a path to hurt our children. Those that don’t know him, you don’t know how much he cares for the children and what he is willing to do to help our schools.

  • Concerned

    Back to the same old problem. There are a lot of residents who want to see the Levy pass, but don’t want the “old” Board members having ANYTHING to do with spending our hard-earned tax dollars! Why is it so hard for Susan ,Karla, and Bill to get this through their heads. Not only were they part original problem with the Stepp mess, they continue to be a major part of the problem for getting the Levy approved by the voters. How about this for a thought: NO RESIGNATIONS – NO LEVY APPROVAL !!!

  • Michele Segedi Hjort

    Than those who vote against the levy are voting against the future of the students in Medina City Schools and will be the cause of the downfall of the school system as well as Stepp and the others. Vote for and we can make a difference. Give Mr. Knight a chance to prove he can do it.

  • Go Medina

    I wonder why some teachers live outside the District. Maybe they’re spouse makes more money, in the private sector, so they live in between work places. Maybe they bought a home outside of the district and would like to live in Medina but they’re under water. Or could it be they don’t want to live around such negative neighbors like “Wake up Medina.” Yep, I bet it’s the last one.

  • Michele Segedi Hjort

    As far as the teachers not living in the area to vote, does that even matter if the are good teachers and teaching are children what they need to grow and learn to be productive people as adults.Or do you want the trend to go up with children dropping out because they couldn’t get the help needed when they were in school and got too frustrated and they gave up. They wouldn’t barely be able to read and write and the most work they would be able to get would be factory jobs or working in fast food all their lives. Most places won’t even hire you now unless you have a diploma or GED. By the way people live where it’s affordable and where both spouses can commute to work easily. There is drama and problems all over,not just in Medina. The teachers stay because they care about the students. No matter where they live.

  • Michele Segedi Hjort

    By the way why aren’t any of you using your real name or or you concerned about the consequences of what you say.

  • Concerned

    A lot of us agree about Mr. Knight, but there a still 3 Board members who are more concerned about their own egos than what is really right for the District. Do you really think any thing will change with Board as long as they are around. Also, what has happened to the audit results the State was supposedly doing on Stepp’s spending. All of a sudden it has just disappeared???.

  • Michele Segedi Hjort

    They are still doing the audits. Mr. Knight does not put up with egos. I’ve know him for 23 yrs. He’s been a principal to my children and didn’t put up with egos from teachers,so why would he from board members. Mr. Knight has always been about the children. I seriously doubt he will let anyone stand in the way of helping the schools.He knows the board members well enough that I trust his judgment. As long as Mr. Knight is there I will continue to support him.When and if he is no longer the interim Superintendent then I will check things and others more so.

  • Medina Working Stiff

    Hey Michele, since you have been living under a rock for the past 8+ years, many Medina residents and taxpayers have taken a huge hit in their collective pocketbooks. Their “money tree” has been picked clean, especially from this inept and poorly run school district ( 75% of one`s property taxes are earmarked to the Medina City Schools ). Compound that with the violated trust that current and former administrators have perpetrated on the good people of Medina and it all adds up to a resounding NO vote to their insane money request in November.

  • Michele Segedi Hjort

    I’ve been fighting school systems both Brunswick and Medina for all the length of my children being in school. I have one that has graduated and 2 in high school right now and 1 in elementary. So I can obliviously say I am not living under a rock. The system keeps cutting programs and I fight to bring them back (for gifted and those”left behind” (that in it’self is a joke). My children have suffered and so have many other from the cutbacks of these programs. Counselors are very much needed in these times for all the bull that children go through these days. Children go through so much more drama than we as children ever did. Money is tight everywhere and if people would stop trying to keep up with :the Jones’” maybe they would have more money to help the schools. Also if we would stop letting the government rule every aspect of what we do in life anymore we wouldn’t be so “picked clean” as you put it.nAnd again I say NO ONE USES THERE REAL NAME! I have repeatedly used mine. why because I believe in the freedom of speech and my own opinion regardless of what others think of me. I know what I believe! Can any of you say that using your real names.