March PACE Meeting Minutes

Primary election is May 1. April 3rd is the last day to register. October 10th is the last day to register to vote for fall elections.

If you are interested in running for PACE board you can email

March 31st is the last days for scholarship paperwork for summer programs.

Dominic Paretti from 2013, General Assembly

We have been able to adjust identification, develop the Gifted Academy. Continuing the facilities process is next, and working on an operating budget. In 2013 and 2014 we were very busy correcting the auditing in the district. Putting together the finance committee was an important part of being transparent and accountable. That allowed our superintendent and our district focus on Third grade reading guarantee and the things the district need to do. Raising the bar, enhancing wrap around services – nurses, social workers, ELL employees.

Ramona Reyes from 2009

First Hispanic member of the board.  Came from public school education in a migrant farming family. She was able to get a scholarship through Campbell’s Soup for The Ohio State University. Always advocated for having a voice.

Works for Nationwide Insurance, currently in human resources. Currently working with Our Lady of Guadalupe for wrap around services, expanding the food pantry to help Hispanic and other minority populations on the west side. About 26 schools buildings have been opened in her tenure on the school board. She has also been present for school closings. Every year we are growing by 200 to 300 students in schools. Competing with charter schools has led us to giving more options for school programs. We have the best preK in the city. We have increased participation in career tech. We offer 37 programs from arts to brick laying. We have tripled services for students identified as gifted by providing more gifted services. We are a model for special education in Ohio, as recognized by the state. I support staffing with the right, qualified, professionally developed teachers. We have more than 70% of our teachers with a Masters degree. I will put our teachers up against any other teachers.

Some of our challenges are being met by our collaboration with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to provide services to students that need it.

We need to continue conversations with our communities to ensure safety outside our schools.

Amy Harkins

Former secretary and Vice President of PACE and current school board candidate. A mother of a former Eclipse student. Currently teachers Junior Achievement and is a Reading Buddy. Created a program where adults came in to talk with middle schoolers about their careers. Wants to be on school board to give back to the community. After her son did not get into CAHS he chose to go to boarding school. She feels students should be able to get the education they need in their own community.

Erin Upchurch

Parent, social worker, and teacher at OSU. Her goal is for all students to have  access to quality and life giving education regardless of zip code, abilities, or learning style. With her daughter’s experiences in the Eclipse program she was able to gain confidence. Availability of gifted education opportunities is important. is the website if you want more information.

There is a donut hole for 9 and 10 in terms of gifted services. What should be done about that?

RR: For a schools to be successful it takes the whole school area. Not just teachers, not just kids, also parents and our community. We are currently looking at expansion of schools that work well. It takes space and money. We have to value every program, medicine, academics, etc. We are working to make programs better.

We have gifted kid sin every school. We have intelligent, bright students in every school. Do not close your door. Ask the people in charge what they are doing to make programming better.

DP: it’s not the school gaps, it’s the community gaps. Partnerships can be made by schools with corporations, non-profits, etc to get what we need. We need to be constantly asking what can we do better, what can we build?

Gifted and talented along with behavioral health.

AH: While the school is nice, the gifted programming is what is keeping our students identified as gifted in the district. I think we definitely need to look at replicating our successful schools.

Comment: Something to consider for special needs is keeping them in the same schools, not reassigning them frequently.

Question: I’m sure you saw the Supreme Court ruling for special needs. Will that affect our services?

DP: I want better tools to identify special needs. The federal government is changing rapidly and we are expanding to be in more contact with that. We are the highest achieving urban district in the state. We have always had representation through the big 8 schools. I want to make sure that we keep capitalizing on our successes.

RR: We are a model for special Ed. We have expanded our special Ed facilities and programming. We take it very seriously because we are growing. I think we have 7500 students identified as special needs. Becoming a model means you also have a say when you come to the table and make decisions. We have an eye to make sure that our performance stays strong.

Charter schools have come up a couple of times. What are we learning from parents choosing charters?

AH: I recently saw a documentary about charter schools where there was a lot of project based work. I don’t see why we wouldn’t try to learn from any innovative teaching.

RR: There is a very small number of successful charters in Ohio. We are always looking for the successes that other schools are doing. One of the issues of being the largest district in the state is that there are not necessarily many models to follow. We can’t duplicate every model but we have to see what fits. We listen to parents and work to get what they want. We haven’t been able to implement every desire but I think we do a pretty good job of seeing what works and what doesn’t. I challenge everything. I want to know, “if you build it will they come?” My job is to be listening and responding to what parents want.

I have no problem with charter schools as long as they follow the same regulations as any other school that is funded with taxpayers dollars.

Question: obviously you are in this for kids. What is your overall passion for running?

AH: my passion is behind our city. People want to live in the city limits, companies are investing. But our schools don’t necessarily meet the expectations. Sometimes you don’t feel like you are getting what you need.

RR: there are a lot of people that don’t want to run for the board when times are tough. Lots of people want to come up when times are good. You are a policy maker. You are making decisions about how you spend money, you make decisions about curriculum. You aren’t walking into the schools telling people what to do.

I don’t feel like the information about our success is getting through. We have 52,000 kids! Sure things are going to go through the cracks. But it takes a lot of work, it takes advocacy. This is a big job. Our budget is bigger than the city council.

Question: of course we need parent engagement in effective, impactful ways. How can we reach those parents?

RR: a few years ago I had the PTA president put together PTA in a box. Everybody could start a PTA with the information.

AH: if you want parents involved you have to talk about the childcare option. Meetings are not everyone’s cup of tea. Adding more fun things would help.