Small-school activists have been trying to change the authority�s evaluation system for a decade. A 1997 lawsuit to prevent the closing of Circleville High School in Pendleton County attempted but failed to force the authority to change it.
The review process, small schools activists say, stacked the deck in favor of larger schools and longer bus rides.
In 1989, the Legislature set seven goals for judging which projects would receive money from the authority: student health and safety, economies of scale, reasonable travel times, multicounty schools, curricular improvements, educational innovations and adequate space. Legislators never ranked the goals.
The SBA decided that safety, larger schools, curriculum and innovations were more important than bus times, classroom space and schools that accepted students from more than one county. The SBA also added an eighth �overall rating� goal into the mix.
Now, all those goals would receive the same weight, under the policy passed Monday by authority members.
The decision contradicted a 1990 state Board of Education resolution about school consolidation. State board members listed �avoids inappropriate increases in travel time� as the second priority when closing schools. They ranked �improved educational programs� as most important.
To contact staff writer Scott Finn, use e-mail or call 357-4323.