Valentine’s Day Message

Remarks by David Petroni at the February 14th, 2013 Springboro School Board meeting …

This month is already half gone.  Tonight is Valentines Day – I move to adjourn…ok, just kidding, I would still like a few minutes. 

But before I go on, I would like to ask for a moment of silence for Lee Vincent and Troy Holtry who both recently lost their fathers……….our prayers are with them and their families. 

 It was a good day today because when I entered my home after a long week; my 4 children and my wife Kim greeted me with such enthusiasm it warmed my heart as a father and a husband.  Behind each hug was a caring message of love, joy, and respect. 

 My 2-year old is starting to talk.  He so gently pulled on my pant leg, and motioned me to follow him…then softly says ‘sit’, papa sit…. What a great valentine day.  I hope your day was also lovingly fulfilled.

 Before our annual board organizational meeting held in January, I sent a personal note of thanks to our central office team. It seemed appropriate today to share some of my thoughts about the people in central office I have had an opportunity to interact with as a board member since August 2012.

 Lee Vincent – what a professional.  I have come to know Mrs. Vincent.  The more I interact with her, the more I admire and applaud her dedication, passion, and commitment. That commitment is not just for our students.   She is always here for our teachers too – You got to respect the direct honesty she delivers – not to mention she has got a heck of sense of humor….

 Jeff Madden stepped into a big role this year.  It took guts to take this position…one, he had no experience.  Heck, it took guts for this board, ok, I speak for me, to step out and hire you.  But we all took a chance by accepting Mr. Petrey’s recommendation.  He said you were the right guy for this job.  So far…he is right.  I know you have been working hard Jeff, so thanks…. of course, we will see how your budget ends up on June 30…

 Tracy Jarvis came to town and shook up the budget process.  Her role here started before my time, so that was not my fault.  Since I have been on this board, Mrs. Jarvis has been able to manage the finances and been here for the community. She could have maintained status quo, but instead, she stepped up, so thanks for taking that risk.

 Tammy Stritenberger, I see why you were able to excel as a NCAA coach.   Such competitive drive and dedication, which yield results, achieved through a management style you only find on the court.  You stepped into a big role and with this position; you agreed to take on great responsibility.  Thanks.

 Superintendent Petrey.  When I first interviewed Mr. Petrey, I asked him about education trends in Florida. …He had some sort of answer that was close to my target.  It just proved he was paying attention to things outside of his environment, which was important when picking a leader for this district. 

 He then delivered a message that exemplifies his passion and drive for student achievement.  The 2 discussions sold me.  The students and this entire community should be as appreciative as I am for all your hard, often, emotionally draining, work you are doing for kids and community.  Thanks.

 On August 1, 2012, this district hired a great team, and it was a very good day for education in Springboro; it was a very good day for our city; and it was a very good day for our employees.   Your hard work executing the policies of this board is starting to shine.  No matter what, remember our mission – it is about educating children and preparing them for their futures. 

So in January, I shared with central office my entire agenda for 2013.  My agenda is focused on student achievement and curriculum….  It’s just that simple.  So everyone playing politics these days and in the days to come…. remember whose lives you are really impacting.

 In the end, this board has worked pretty hard to make a difference.  Most of our votes have been unanimous.  For the most part, this board did good work in 2012.  It was a good year for education, and educators in Springboro.

 Let me close with a quote from Henry Ford,

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

 Thanks for listening.

David Petroni

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Accelerating Student Achievement Through Innovation & Policy

The educational needs of our children must be a board of education’s first priority. The purpose of public education is to create educated citizens capable of thinking critically and standing on their own for the sake of all our futures.

Twice a year, every school district in Ohio prepares a Five-Year Financial Forecast. The forecast tell the district whether a financial surplus or deficit exists, as well as serve as a guide for decisions, such as new tax levies and strategic investments. These financial forecasts are built through a set of assumptions, so the assumptions are critical and must be thoroughly reviewed.

To assure teachers have what they need to be successful, we asked principals to prepare budgets for their buildings –another innovation and a first in Springboro. As a result, the principals purchased more smart boards, laptop carts, IPads, and supplies. Everything requested was approved because it was said adding these tools were needed to accelerate student achievement.

As a board this past year, our policies have focused on many innovative areas to advance student achievement. We put technology in the classroom and recently bought every teacher a new laptop computer. We invested in new curriculum for our elementary students and added AP classes at the high school. We are building computer network infrastructure that will enable teaching with technology, and we approved new investments in our bus fleet and facilities. Through policy, our administrators are preparing our teachers for the changes ahead. Most importantly, we’ve developed a unanimously approved budget that prioritizes the learning requirements of our children.

In the past, some of these investments above have been neglected. Most district computers are over 6-8 years old. The average age of our bus fleet is such that buses are often permanently removed from service. It has also been several years since the district adopted new textbooks, and even longer since our high school program of studies courses and descriptions have been evaluated or overhauled to keep pace with the 21 century needs of our youth.

Through a very diligent and innovative budgeting effort, a solid financial forecast was recommended to the board by the Budget and Finance Committee last October, then certified by Tracy Jarvis, our Treasurer. Simply stated, when we understand our budget, we can be confident in what investments and improvements we can afford.

You might ask how can a school district do all of this if we haven’t had the money to do it in the past. Let’s start by saying that we didn’t do all of it alone. Parents, PTOs, and private donors have played a role. However, this is also possible because we have a better understanding of our budget forecast.

Since last August, our new administration is working hard to catch our faculty up so they are prepared for the implementation of the Common Core. Our teachers have been provided ongoing professional development to accelerate their knowledge of all of these new standards.

Our new Superintendent, Todd Petrey, has brought a renewed focus on academics as well as innovative approaches to education. The new central office team is staffed with four former principals, and our building principals are now the “educational leader” of their building. Dennis and 5-points elementary schools were reorganized into single schools to improve academics and efficiency.

Improvement plans have been developed by every principal to raise the bar for teachers and students with emphasis on data. Now more than ever, principals and teachers are using test data to identify students who need additional help, and to accelerate learning for all students. This is on the heels of new principal and teacher evaluations of which a component will be based on student achievement.

With all that has just been said ——- it has been a very busy, rewarding year, and there has been a lot of change. At times, this change has not come easy. For me to do less would be self-serving. To do less, would hurt our children’s future.

Challenges lie ahead. One of our biggest for 2013 is successful negotiation with our unions. In addition, our forecast assumptions reflect the need to pass a renewal levy that expires December 31, 2013. These two challenges are a cause of stress among the board, administration, and district staff.

A few weeks ago the Board sent a letter to our teachers union asking to open negotiations. While there’s no obligation to begin negotiations early, the board initiated this request because we understand the stress it can cause. In doing so, we can explain our financial situation to taxpayers with firm knowledge and confidence. I feel it is a board member’s fiduciary responsibility to understand all costs before going to the taxpayers for any levy.

I know there are people questioning the School Board. My colleagues and I are working for the benefit of children. While there’s always going to be somebody questioning our actions, I want you to know our motives are to provide every opportunity possible for Springboro’s children. We are putting these words into action through our deeds and this past year’s accomplishments.