New ‘Business Advisory Council’ meant to help Athens students get ahead

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Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Feb. 6 newspaper on Page A1.

THE PLAINS — The Athens City School District is organizing a Business Advisory Council to provide new learning opportunities for its students.

Business Advisory Councils (BACs) are now required for each school district in Ohio — either one created solely for a given district or one offered through an educational service center. A regional BAC, known as Project RISE, is one such entity assisting school districts throughout the region and is facilitated through the Athens-Meigs Educational Service Center.

Some districts such as Athens have opted to create a BAC of their own.

“Given the size and complexities of our district, I felt it best to develop our own,” said Tom Gibbs, district superintendent.

BACs are meant to create partnerships between districts and local businesses, working together to ensure students learn from a curriculum that will help them get a job or move forward with their education following high school.

The Ohio Department of Education outlines three roles for a BAC:

To advise a school district on changes in the economy and job market, as well as advising on what future jobs are most likely to be available
To advocate for certain employment skills and help develop a curriculum to teach those skills
To provide aid/support to the district through encouraging work relationships between businesses, labor organizers and educators
The first meeting of the Athens City School District’s Business Advisory Council will be on Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. at Athens High School and is open to the public.

“The first meeting will be to discuss specific, local goals for our BAC and to establish a calendar of meetings for the year,” Gibbs said via email. “In short, we are just getting established and our goal will be to move beyond compliance and to make the BAC an integral advisory group to connect our students at Athens High School to career readiness opportunities, both locally and beyond.”

Five individuals have already been appointed by the Board of Education to the BAC: Tara Gilts, director of development for OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital; Sara Marrs-Maxfield, executive director of the Athens County Economic Development Council; Dave Hayden, owner of Museum Data Solutions LLC; Brandon Thompson, executive director of Ohio Brew Week; and Neill Lane, chief executive officer of Stirling Ultracold.

Gibbs will join Athens High School Principal David Hanning and high school English teacher Allison Ricket on the Council.