State taps former NYC chancellor to study troubled district
Former New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott was appointed by the state in August to lead a team studying the troubled East Ramapo Central School District in New York. Last fall, a state investigation found that the district’s school board members diverted money from public schools to children attending private religious institutions, leaving the district in financial trouble.
Walcott’s team will study the district’s operations and offer recommendations to the school board.
Arkansas state Rep. Scott Baltz (D- Pocahontas) was the lead sponsor of the 2015 School Safety Act, which calls for every public school in the state to implement a panic button by 2015-16. The button will enable authorities to respond to crises faster and with greater precision in each of the nearly 1,100 public schools statewide.
“This powerful solution, which we hope to never have to use for an active shooter, will allow our response teams to save precious minutes, which translates to lives,” Baltz said in a statement.
Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced a pilot program in August giving the state’s 11th grade students the opportunity to take the ACT exam for free this school year. The state Department of Education will fund the initiative with $1.5 million budgeted for assessments.
Twenty-one other states administered the ACT free in 2014-15. “This is a powerful statement that all Oklahomans should have a chance to pursue college as a potential future,” Hofmeister said in a statement.
Thomas Hosler, superintendent of Perrysburg Exempted Village School District in Ohio, was named in August to a panel created by the state Department of Education to oversee the development of new charter school oversight evaluations. The department invalidated this past school year’s evaluations after the state’s school choice director deliberately left out F grades for online charter schools, and resigned from the position.
Kent Scribner was named superintendent of Fort Worth ISD in Texas in August. Scribner, also a commissioner for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, was superintendent of Phoenix Union High School District, the largest district in Arizona.
Under his leadership, Phoenix Union increased the number of A and B ranked schools under the state’s evaluation system, and honors and advanced placement course enrollment more than doubled.