School board gives Dayton Biz Tech charter a chance to stay open

Dayton’s school board changed course, opening the door for Dayton Business Technology High School to remain open for the 2018-19 school year.

Dayton Tech is a dropout recovery charter school at 348 W. First St. downtown that serves about 150 students and has been sponsored by Dayton Public Schools for the past 12 years.

In December, the DPS school board voted to non-renew the school’s sponsorship, citing an evaluation of academic success, organizational performance and fiscal soundness that put Dayton Tech below state targets.

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But last week, Dayton’s school board voted 5-2 to rescind that decision, creating a path for the school to stay open.

DPS Administrator Lashawn Graham said Tuesday that Dayton Tech officials now have to come up with a comprehensive strategic plan to improve operations before the school district will finalize a new sponsorship agreement for 2018-19.

Dan Bitler, president of Dayton Tech’s own school board, said there are no hurdles at the state level – just hammering out things with DPS.

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“We still have to get our sponsorship agreement completed with them, and that’s more of a formality,” Bitler said, suggesting that the majority of DPS’ board is supportive. “But one of the things we promised to them was a strategic plan, and we have our first session next week. … We just have to prove to them that we’re going to get things done.”

Principal Gregory Stone told DPS leaders last month that Dayton Tech serves many students who have dealt with drugs, mental health issues, pregnancy and other problems. On its 2016-17 state report card, Dayton Tech’s graduation rate was 50.2 percent, better than the state dropout recovery standard. The school also met the state standard for high school test passage rates, but was sub-par on student growth.

Graham has said it will be important for the new sponsorship contract to have performance measures that DPS can track. Bitler said that will be a focus of the strategic planning process.

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“I think next year will be pretty much business as usual. But I think in the coming years you’re going to see a much bigger focus with us getting more integrated with Sinclair and the career tech side,” Bitler said, suggesting that will be a big piece of the strategic plan. “We have to find a better connection to take these kids from just graduating to graduating toward a long-term career objective.”

Bitler said Dayton Tech hopes to have its strategic plan ready by the end of April so it can start working with DPS on the new sponsorship agreement. Graham said the sponsorship agreement needs to be finished in time for the DPS board’s June meeting, since the existing agreement expires June 30.

Bitler said the school needs to communicate with parents now.

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“I don’t think we’ve lost any students due to this process so far, but I am a little concerned about whether parents have already made a decision to move kids for next year,” Bitler said. “We’re meeting with staff (Wednesday) to get them reassured and also to get some stuff out to the parents telling them where we’re going.”

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