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Reynoldsburg changing the face of its schools
Reynoldsburg City Schools is preparing an adjustment to how high school is being taught for the 21st century.
The district is planning to utilize both high school facilities to create what's called interest-based academies, meaning the schools will function as small learning communities in a larger setting.
"If you can break it down and know the kids well ... teaching and learning improves," Assistant Superintendent Dan Hoffman said at the March 16 school board meeting.
Through collaborative work of teachers, administration and participating partners, the district is in the beginning stages of organizing the interest-based academies. Every eighth- and ninth-grade student has taken the Ohio Career Information System (OCIS) Career Cluster Inventory, which will help each student decide what academies best relate to his or her interests. Students will select at least two possible choices for enrollment.
"The student's decision to choose an academy is not the end all be all," Art Teacher Thomie Timmons said when presenting an update to the board. "They will each work toward a goal and may decide that goal is going to change. These are not career centers."
Currently, the district has planned five academies, Encore of Reynoldsburg that includes Arts, Communication and Design Academy; Enterprise Business Academy; Health Science, Human Services and Education Academy; LEADS (Leadership, Ethics, Advocacy, Democracy and Solutions) Academy; and eSTEM Academy.
"I think we have five really dynamic schools," Timmons said.
If one of the choices for existing eighth- and ninth-grade students is the STEM Academy, they will need to apply for the 2010-2011 school year. All remaining academies will start the 2011-2012 school year. District officials say the academies will continue to provide the expected educational experiences, so all students have the opportunity to meet their post secondary goals with success in the 21st century.
Each academy will include the same basics, as well as support services for those students needing enriched or special education.
School Board Member Andy Swopes said it was commendable to see the district staff forging forward despite financial challenges.
"Hopefully, we can get this levy passed so the focus can be on the students," Swopes said.
Superintendent Steve Dackin said the district is going to capture the student's interest and wrap the curriculum around that.
"Our goal is to prepare our kids for the 21st century," Dackin said.
The district is currently meeting only the minimum state requirements for graduation and attendance standards.
"That's not good enough for our kids," Dackin said.
He went on to say that the passage of the May 4 levy will bring desirability to the community.
New co-chairwomen for the levy, Loretta King and Stephanie McCloud, were introduced during the board meeting and spoke on their contributions toward the passage of the levy.
"This school levy is about our community. We are one community," King said. "The city and schools are handcuffed together. If one goes under, the other will follow."
The district will go to the voters in May asking for a 6.9-mill incremental levy to fund operations for the schools. The proposal starts at 6.9 mills and increases by 1 mill every year for three years, ending in a 9.9-mill permanent levy.
If passed, taxpayers would pay an additional $211 per year in the first year for every $100,000 in property value with a $30 increase each year to $303 in the fourth year of collection.
The district would receive $5.3 million for its general fund in the first year of collection and an additional $770,000 each time the millage would increase.
District Treasurer Tammy Miller said the board still plans to cut $3 million from the budget for next year, but cutting cannot continue to be the only way the district moves forward, she said.
"We can't cut our way out of this situation," she said.
Individuals interested in finding out about the levy campaign can go to the campaign Web site at http://reynoldsburglevy.org for more information, to receive yard signs, volunteer or donate.
In other news, the board recognized the High School Girls Basketball team for advancing to state semi-finals for the first time in school history. The Lady Raiders will play Canton McKinley in the State Final Four at Ohio State's Schottenstein Center at 8 p.m. March 19.
Senior Jordan Marrero was also recognized for qualifying and placing seventh in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I State Wrestling Championship Competition.
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