MARIETTA - The makeup of the Washington County Career Center board will change in January, with two new members and two veterans remaining in a different capacity.
Board members Karen Burton from Marietta City Schools and Johnna Zalmanek from Fort Frye Local Schools will not return to the board because they do not meet new criteria requiring business experience, such as being a chief executive officer, chief financial officer or human resources manager.
The new state law, approved earlier this year as part of the massive biennial budget bill, also does not require representatives on joint vocational school boards to be members of the school districts appointing them. That allows existing board members Rod Hineman of Belpre City Schools and Jeff Lauer of Frontier Local Schools to remain or be reappointed despite they did not run for re-election.
Superintendent Dennis Blatt said he is happy to have those two returning, but he and other school officials are not pleased with the changes, which include limits of two consecutive three-year terms and a provision allowing non-residents of the districts they represent to be appointed to JVS boards.
"It's part of the code now that is not supported by any educational organization," Blatt said. "We'd like to have had all of our board members back."
The Springfield senator who introduced the changes as an amendment to the state budget bill has said they were intended to eliminate potential conflicts of interest with regard to new funding for career tech programs JVS boards could approve for local school districts and to put employers in direct oversight of the programs that train their future workers. But local school boards have generally panned the changes, with career center officials noting they have advisory boards keeping their programs abreast of the needs of related industry.
* Larry Holdren, Ohio Valley Educational Service Center
* Rod Hineman, Belpre City Schools
* Charlie Schilling, Fort Frye Local Schools
* Jeff Lauer, Frontier Local Schools
* Wendy Myers, Marietta City Schools, expected to be appointed in January.
* Debbie West, Warren Local Schools
* Neil Huck, Wolf Creek Local Schools
Source: Times research.
As originally proposed, the amendment would have prohibited any members of other boards of education from serving on JVS boards at all. And the new rules do not require the person appointed by the districts to live in those districts, just to be "qualified to discuss the labor needs and general economy of the region."
No local boards have expressed an interest in going that route. And most wanted to keep a board member as their representative, including Marietta City, whose members likely will replace Burton with board Vice President Wendy Myers at its organizational meeting in January.
"I'm excited to learn about it," Myers said, adding that Burton had done a good job. "I think it's a shame that the guidelines changed."
A retired teacher, Burton has said she enjoyed serving on the career center board and felt like she brought an educational perspective to the board.
The Fort Frye board voted last week to replace Zalmanek, who, like Burton, did not meet the new criteria, with board Vice President Charlie Schilling, who owns a real estate company. Schilling was willing to be the representative, but joined other board members in criticizing the change, calling it "nonsense."
"This is the state pushing conformity instead of diversity," Fort Frye board member Kevin Worthington said. "It's like putting 11 quarterbacks on a football team. Everybody can throw; nobody can catch the ball."
Since JVS board members don't have to be on the home school boards, Hineman and Lauer will continue to serve.
"We're thrilled with that," Belpre City Superintendent Tony Dunn said of Hineman remaining Belpre's representative. "He meets the new qualifications. He's held CFO positions with the Ohio Education Association and he's done some other things."
Lauer serves as the chief financial officer for the Highland Ridge Water Association and still has a year remaining on his three-year term, even though his most recent four-year term for Frontier is up.
"He really enjoys working with the career center," Frontier Superintendent Bruce Kidder said. "He has a passion for it."
Warren Local's Debbie West and Wolf Creek Local's Neil Huck are also in the midst of terms on the career center board and are expected to serve them out.
Career center board Chairman Larry Holdren was recently reappointed by the Ohio Valley ESC board. Although he's been on the career center board for a number of years, the term limits do not apply to past experience, Blatt said.