London board of education nixes middle school career training

By Erin Thompson -

Despite being on the drawing board for the first time, career training will not be offered to middle schoolers in London.

The London Board of Education approved a resolution of intent not to provide career-technical training to seventh and eighth graders in a 4-1 vote Tuesday.

The Ohio Revised Code requires school districts to provide career training for seventh through 12th grade, but districts have the option to opt out of providing the program to middle schoolers.

The district had been working with Tolles Career & Technical Center to bring a program to a middle school for the first time.

According to superintendent Lou Kramer, the program would bring Tolles teachers to the London campus at no cost to the district.

Todd Boyd, president of the London Education Association, spoke against the proposal during the March 14 board of education meeting.

According to Boyd, the teacher’s union stipulates that any new teaching positions be offered to London teachers.

“This is something we need to discuss. We asked for (the board) to negotiate and they chose not to,” Boyd told The Press.

However, according the Kramer, the district simply does not have the funds to create and staff a program and while the state mandates schools provide the education, they do not offer any additional funding to provide it.

“The district didn’t want to add a program because that comes with a cost. It seemed to be a good partnership (with Tolles),” Kramer said.

Jonathan Alder and West Jefferson middle schools both take advantage of middle school programs through Tolles, according to Tolles superintendent Kim Wilson.

The programs Tolles brings to the schools is tailored to match the job market in that specific area. For example, at Jonathan Alder they offer information technology and manufacturing engineering.

“We have been very successful with these programs. It gives students at a younger age the chance to explore career technical education, to find their talents and abilities and get excited about a career,” Wilson said.

Wilson stated that after researching the area, the center had intended to bring environmental science to London Middle School.

Both Wilson and Kramer indicated they are hopeful for a future partnership, though Wilson made it clear that it simply would not succeed without support from the board of education.

“We would have to be confidant that the London board of education would be supportive in spite of any opposition. It takes a strong partnership and a shared vision to make these programs successful,” Wilson said.

Board member Marvin Homan cast the sole no vote against the resolution, stating “I think it’s a mistake not to offer this program and that’s all I have to say.”

By Erin Thompson

Reach Erin Thompson at 740-837-4502.

Reach Erin Thompson at 740-837-4502.