Religious group lobbies for new policy

by Sheldon Ocker

March 19 school board meeting

The Revere Schools Board of Education briefly outlined a proposed new policy that would allow students at any level to take off-campus religious instruction during the school day.

Several years ago, the state mandated this opportunity for religious training. As board member Courtney Stein explained, released time for religious instruction involves no public funds and requires parental consent. The district cannot provide transportation.

“Many of the districts around us do offer this, the opportunity for students, so we are looking to kind of align ourselves with the law and catch up with what other districts are doing,” Stein said.

The state does not require districts to offer released time for religious training.

“There is a vendor that is soliciting our families,” said Superintendent Michael Tefs. “There are hundreds of families interested in this, so I think this is the appropriate action.”

After the meeting, Tefs revealed that the vendor is LifeWise Academy, an organization that lobbies parents to urge school administrators to adopt a released time policy. Tefs said he thought about 150 Revere families signed a petition to institute the student option.

On the LifeWise web page, the stated objective of the organization is “to reach public school students with the gospel during school hours.”

According to LifeWise, the curriculum is Bible-based, and students study the entire bible over a period of five years.

The board is expected to act on the policy proposal in April.

The check is not in the mail                                                  

Treasurer Rick Berdine told the board not to be alarmed by his latest financial report, which included a significant shortfall.

“It looks awful, about a $6 million deficit, but that is due to the delay in distribution of tax bills by the county,” he said. “We will be back on track by the end of April.”

Berdine announced the month’s donations: $700 from Bath Volunteers for Service for Bath Elementary students to attend Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center programming, and $10,000 from Harikrishna Choudary Ponnam for playground improvements at Richfield Elementary.

Most of the new playground at Richfield Elementary is finished, but a smaller playground project includes new swings and another playground piece. Berdine said the project will cost $150,000, with $50,000 coming from the PTA and the $10,000 contribution. The district will pay for the rest.

In other action

  • The board ratified the annual eighth-grade trip to Washington D.C. The trip is scheduled for May 28-31.
  • Student handbooks for the 2024-25 school year were approved by the board. Each building has a different student handbook.
  • The board approved memorandums of understanding for two more Revere partners in the College-Plus program: Stark State College and Walsh University.
  • Phil King, former principal at Revere High and currently a math teacher at Revere Middle School, has decided to retire at the end of the school year. ∞