News & Updates
Welcome home, IAC students!
After 14 years in a cramped building with no space other than classrooms, the International Academy of Columbus (IAC) recently moved into a new building, which provides three times the space at the same cost as the previous facility.
The school’s 200 students now have a “home” with features found in nearly all traditional public school buildings -- from a gym, auditorium and cafeteria, to a library, art room and science lab.
Previously used as a fitness center and as a church, the building was renovated for IAC’s use over a period of about six months. It now looks and feels like it was always meant to be a school – with lots of natural light, it’s a bright, clean environment conducive to learning.
“We owe it to these kids,” said Dr. Mouhamed Tarazi, the school’s leader since 2004. “The new building is not only a great environment from an academic perspective, but it also allows us to provide extra-curricular activities – like basketball, volleyball and soccer – that weren’t possible in our previous facility.”
Classrooms and lockers for students in kindergarten through second grade are located on the first floor of the building, with the second floor dedicated to students in grades three through eight.
Security in the new building is also improved with more cameras, and card passes instead of keys. A fence was installed on the property to provide a safe outdoor play area. There is plenty of room to create an outdoor green space, which Tarazi sees as a benefit to students and the general community. Bus and car traffic is also better managed at the new facility.
The school’s new home is located just eight minutes from its previous location, contributing to successful student retention despite the move.
Education oversight panel convenes
The Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC) – comprised of members of both the Ohio House and Senate – held its first meeting last month. Originally slated to begin its work in January, primary elections, spring break and a late State of the State Address by Governor John Kasich delayed the committee’s activity.
According to Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay), who chairs the committee, the first order of business will be to seek candidates for an executive director to organize the group’s work and keep it on track in the future.
The JEOC is not an investigative committee targeting individual schools, but rather a study committee to research and analyze education issues. “I don’t want to be looking over people’s shoulders telling them, “You’re not doing a good job,” Hite explained. “That’s not my intent. We’re here to try to help schools get better.”
At its April meeting, JEOC members shared their thoughts on topics to address -- ranging from state school report cards and the role of the State Board, to testing, educator preparation, transportation and charter school accountability. An issue of common interest among committee members is the correlation between poverty and poor academic performance.
Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), who serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee, believes the JEOC should seek input on how best to approach the Every Student Succeeds Act recently enacted by Congress.
“I do think that we have a unique opportunity right now with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which has provided a great deal of more flexibility to the state than we have had up to this point,” Lehner said.
According to Hite, members have discussed the possibility of taking the JEOC on the road to different sites throughout the state to get diverse input and testimony toward the goal of identifying, and ultimately sharing, best practices. Visiting successful high poverty schools – both urban and rural – would be a priority.
The committee may seek an amendment to education legislation to clarify the role of the JEOC and broaden its purview.