This is part one of a two part series
It is not often that a motivational speaker comes to town to speak, and then takes that community to heart and wants to help them make things better.
Not only did Victor Woods, who spoke last Monday morning at East High and Middle Schools, give them somethings to motivate them, but he spent three days in that community and the county and worked with educators within the Sciotoville Community School District to help them come up with a way to get a new school.
Woods said that he was delighted to come to East to speak and that typically speakers come in to a town and then leave…”but I came here to speak and I had the opportunity to met Mr. James Malhmeister(East High School Principal), Mr. Rick Bowman(Sciotoville Community School Superintendent), and Mrs. Foresta Shope(East Elementary School Principal), and her husband and school board member, (Bill Shope) and Corey Ruby(Student Service Director at East High School), and its always more powerful when we bring folks together and it’s not about me so much, but the people here. So, when I got here and I saw where those young children from the elementary school, and me also, having to walk out and over to another facility to go to the bathroom, to see the children do that, struck me as just not right. Especially, in light of there were kids who had suffered or were suffering from cancer, some said that their parents were dead, some said their family had people struggling with drugs and such, and it brings up that in an area like this, we are not concentrating on those kids, and saying at least those kids should have a school.”
Woods wanted to make it clear that he was not here to criticize things or people in this area, but he has a real heart for the area and especially the children in the community. He mentioned that Ruby had spent an entire evening getting the people together in a meeting, while Woods was still in town.
Woods continued with the fact the people at East, Bowman, Shope, have done everything they can to try to get help from the government, and there was a horror story of why they didn’t get the help they need. One of the first things he says that is needed is,”to protect those kindergartners through fifth graders and as much as we want to protect the teenagers and others, we’ve got to concentrate those small children.
“We’re not trying to get a school in Sciotoville, we’re trying to get a meeting, with someone who represents the Bill Gates Foundation, someone who represents a pharmaceutical company, that ought to be involved, a billion dollar company, to be involved and ought to want to service this area and at least say, ‘Hey, Let us do what we can to protect these kids, let us get the money together’, which isn’t a lot of money, to build a facility that these kids can feel good about themselves, where the teachers can feel good about themselves for going in there and doing a magnanimous job, because they have to go in there and teach people and children who are struggling with other things in their lives, they ought to have a facility that is state of the art that they can come to. I truly believe that there needs to be a campaign in this town, we need a fresh look.” He was quick to say that all he has done, is bring fresh hope to this situation,” Woods said.
“It is not business as usual, you have to start somewhere and this is the start, in this city.” He mentioned that some of the big companies, need to be made aware that there is a school here where the children have to go in the rain, in the snow, in the cold, kindergarten kids, that are escorted to use the bathroom. “This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated period and the way that is dealt with, is to get that information out to everybody, especially those who can make this decision,” he said. “I refuse to believe that we cannot in the United States of America, in a place that is impoverished like this, that we cannot raise 2.5 million, 5 million or 10 million to make sure these kids in this town, cannot go to school in a safe warm comfortable environment.”
Woods began speaking of Shope and the compassion he saw that she had for all of her students. He said that as she talked to him about different ones and the things they were going through, she constantly had tears in her eyes and he could see the compassion she has for them. He then wanted her to tell the things that both she and Bowman had gone through trying to get a grant from the state. He said he wanted to have the bureaucracy explain why they will not help these children after they read this article. Why teachers in 2018, have to teach in trailers. “That’s absolutely ridiculous in the state where we have the Ohio State Buckeyes, that’s millions and millions of dollars to play football and go watch games, it’s more important than football, more important than the NFL, more important than baseball, basketball, it’s more important than that. People will say that these kids and education are more important, but somewhere in that conversation, we’re not acting like it is!”
Woods then wanted Bowman to tell what they had been through to try to get the money for a school. Bowman began, “First of all, we’re excited about having this conservation we’ve had a lot of conversations, and we’ve worked very hard, not just in the past seven years I’ve been here, but since SEA has been in existence, since 2008,” Bowman said. “That’s been the overriding conversation for the past years and we worked to try to get things in the right order in the right place, so that if the time ever came and we had an opportunity to get money for schools, we would be a good candidate and we’ve done that. And, we’ve worked very hard in getting our financial house in order, we have freed up money we can use in any kind of building project.Woods talked about that 2.5 million mark and that’s basically what we were asking the state to match. We had a local bank that was going to loan us that, to match the state funding.”
“We worked hard to change how we teach kids, to make the grade to where we would qualify for the funds. The governor created the Community Schools Classroom Facility Fund through the Ohio Facilities Commission, 25 millions dollars to qualifying charter schools, with the stipulation that whatever grant you would get from the state, you would have to provide that much also match, 50 percent of the money they give,” Bowman continued. “The requirements were also meeting the grade on value added, so those are the things we’ve been working on. We put everything in order, we didn’t qualify on the first two report cards that came out and low and behold, we merged July 2017. On the report card, the grades qualified us to apply for a facilities grant. We were put on the list of eligible schools that qualified. And after a few questions, they were told, if you’re on the list you qualify.”
Bill Shope said to clarify, the Sciotoville Community School is not allowed to apply for a levy.
After months of waiting, Foresta Shope was told that because they did not meet the grade in their schools, they were not eligible, this was after being told a few months ago they were eligible. They were still listed as being eligible, but were still told they were not. Bowman finished that this is where they are at at this time.
End of Part one of a two part story on the struggles of Sciotoville Community Schools and how Victor Woods is trying to help.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928