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.

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One Response to Accelerating Student Achievement Through Innovation & Policy

  1. David Jim and Kelly, please keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing. You’ve proven to this community that you’ve been 110% consistent in your dedication to make the educational needs your unwavering top priority for ALL FIFTY FIVE HUNDRED school children currently enrolled in Springboro Schools.

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