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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
DAYTON -— Dayton's school board approved a two-year contract renewal for district athletic director Mark Baker, in the wake of major state penalties imposed on Dayton Public Schools athletic programs.
The vote was 5-1, with board memberJoeLaceystronglyobjecting and Hazel Rountree absent. Baker declined comment after the vote.
Last fall, Dunbar's football team used an ineligible player in two games, causing them to forfeit those games and be knocked out of the playoffs. The eligibility issue was missed by coaches, athletic directors and the principal.
But during the final game of the season, there was a back-and-forth debate about the star player's eligibility. Once it was established, after he had already played, that he was ineligible, Dunbar officials told players to lose the game on purpose, believing they might still have an avenue to make the playoffs.
The Dunbar coaches said that directive came from Baker, but Baker denied it during subsequent investigations.
Lacey argued that DPS was not taking the issue of "throwing the game" seriously, calling it an unprecedented violation in Ohio high school sports, and saying the district appeared not to want to investigate it.
"It looked like there were attempts to not investigate the decision of this district to throw a game, to instruct students to cheat," Lacey said. "The rallying around the people responsible for this really disgusts me."
Board members Adil Baguirov, RobertWalkerandRonLeeargued that the focus should be on the new policies the district was putting in place to make sure this never happens again, saying it is time to look forward, rather than back.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association placed all DPS athletic programs on three years of probation, fined them $10,000 and ordered administrators to undergo training, citing the district for "a lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control."
Hundreds of teachers attended the school board meeting, then rallied on the street corner outside, as contract negotiations between Dayton's teachers union and the district drag on.
"It's going to take ... a deliberate decision on the part of this district to put the teachers and the students they teach first in decision-making," teachers union President David Romick said. "Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions."
The current contract expires this summer. Romick said through 20 sessions, contract negotiations have been more complex than usual, with more issues on the table than Romick has seen in the past. Those include teacher pay, the need for guidance counselors and staffed libraries in DPS schools, a move to five-day preschool, and more.
DPS Superintendent Rhonda Corr said she thinks the parties are a lot closer and had a good discussion Wednesday.
"We have the utmost respect for our teachers, for Mr. Romick, for the Dayton Education Association, and we want to do right by them," Corr said. "But in a negotiation, everything's a little bit of a give and take. We want to try to implement some things that are better for students as well."
Layoffs not planned
The 33 paraprofessionals (classroom aides) who were at risk of layoff from DPS last fall will have the opportunity to move into preschool aide positions next school year.
DPS assistant superintendent Elizabeth Lolli outlined a broad reconfiguration, in which Title 1 funding previously used for those paraprofessionals will be shifted to pay for teacher-leaders in each school. She said the district already has 90 applications.
Lolli said those teacher-leaders would be in coaching and teaching roles, rather than administration. She said those master teachers will work in curriculum implementation with teacher teams and building leaders, so they can spread their expertise.
The district will also add kindergarten and first-grade phonics teachers to work with students who test below benchmarks on reading tests.
"That's a good thing for the district that we're not going to be losing any of our highly qualified paraprofessionals because of RIF or layoff," Lolli said. "We're very pleased that we're able to make that personnel change."
The district unanimously approved what board members said was a contract for the purchase of 115 new school buses, including a $2.5 million down payment this year, toward a $9.73 million total cost.
The resolution the board voted on was not attached to the agenda Wednesday night. Board member Adil Baguirov touted the 2.06 percent interest rate he said the district got.
School board members had a heated discussion on the bus issue last month, but Wednesday's vote was unanimous.
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