Madison School Board Fields Questions From Concerned Parents

  • 3/28/2018 10:29:34 PM
  • Jesse Smith
  • Local News

MANSFIELD, OH - After concerned parents spoke out against the decision to make STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) classes mandatory at Madison Local School District at the district's Board of Education meeting on Wednesday night, Madison Superintendent Shelley Hilderbrand spoke about what makes the STEM classes attractive to the school's education plans.

"I know that one of the major concerns was whether or not it should be a requirement or an elective," Hilderbrand said. "We want to make sure we're teaching the skills to all of our students. That's why some of those classes are being required. Still, it's only a semester requirement, and they have three semesters, basically, of choice. As you get to high school, you have even more choice in what you can take. While there's still the 20 credits you have to earn for graduation that is mandated, you still have other opportunities to take other classes by your own choice."

Wednesday night's meeting went on longer than planned, as the public comments portion of the meeting saw Hilderbrand and School Board President Jeff Meyers engaging in short dialogues with parents who were unhappy with the district's decision regarding the STEM classes.

One speaker reflected the general opinion of parents in the room, saying, "You don't have support from the community, you don't have support from the teaching staff, and you don't have support from the kids," before receiving a round of applause.

Another parent asked board members to clarify a rumor that was circling, concerning the prospect of the school district selling off the property of the Madison Junior High School site, located on Ashland Road. The property is currently used for youth soccer events. Board President Jeff Meyers responded to the rumor, denying that the school district was selling the property.

"It's absolutely false," Meyers began. "I don't know where the rumor came from. There have been no decisions made on anything that's going to happen with the Junior High property yet."

Meyers did, however, indicate that the property was going to be appraised, which only raised further questions.

Referencing the district's several lockdowns over the past few weeks, another concerned parent asked how the school district was going to improve communications between staff and parents.

Superintendent Hilderbrand responded to those concerns in an interview, noting that in emergencies, staff members can use the district website or an app called "Remind," before talking about the district's plans to address their shortcomings in communication outlets.

"What we're looking into is having a system where all of our parents, through their enrollment here at school, would be able to be on a mass communication system," Hilderbrand said. "We actually had a representative come in today and show us an option. We've been reviewing several options throughout the school year - this conversation started back in September. We've been reviewing several options and looking at what could be the best fit for our district, both in use and financial aspects. We're hoping to be able to make a decision by the end of this month."

The district's next Board of Education is slated to take place on April 25th.

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