Board votes to remove mandate on art, gym teachers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio’s state education board approved a policy change Monday that opponents argued could gut elementary school music, art, nursing and counseling offerings statewide.

The Ohio Board of Education voted 11-7 Monday evening to eliminate the so-called “5 of 8” rule, which set districts’ minimum number of art, music and physical education teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses, social workers and visiting teachers. The decades-old rule required at least five of those eight positions for every 1,000 students in a school district.

Board member Ron Rudduck said during contentious debate that after “four or five” votes on the subject since last year, it was time for a decision, The Columbus Dispatch reported. He and other supporters of scrapping the mandate argued that it is outdated, and school districts and superintendents are in the best position to make staffing decisions.

The board Monday rejected efforts to postpone the vote on the matter.

Board members opposed to the policy’s elimination said they’re concerned that cash-strapped districts would eliminate such positions because they might be considered irrelevant to standardized tests.

Board member A.J. Wagner from Dayton said poor and minority students will suffer if the rule is abolished.

“If we eliminate the 5 of 8 rule, we are not going to impact the schools that have the means to hire art teachers, etc.,” Wagner said. “We are going to impact the schools with high numbers of minority students, high numbers of blacks, high numbers of Hispanics. Those are the schools that are going to be hurt hardest, the schools that need nurses, that need counselors the most.”

Roslyn Painter-Goffi, of Strongsville, urged the board to keep the 5 of 8 policy and push for more funds from the Legislature so that schools aren’t in the difficult position of cutting staff.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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