Canal Winchester State of the Schools

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

A new five star system replacing Ohio’s former school district report card rating system indicates the Canal Winchester School district is heading in the right direction by meeting or exceeding all five components of the report card.

Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent Kiya Hunt outlined highlights of the reporting system, along with the district’s goal-setting process, building initiatives, safety, school culture and survey results during an April 12 State of the Schools presentation to the chamber of commerce.

“This is the first year using a star rating system on the report card,” Hunt said. “We have met or exceeded all areas.”

In gap closing, Canal Winchester achieved five stars, which significantly exceeds expectations. Progress and graduation rate were both four stars and the district received three stars—meets expectations—in achievement and early literacy.

“We are focusing on early literacy,” continued Hunt. “Indian Trail is preparing for all-day kindergarten starting with the 2024-25 school year.”

At the middle school, the focus starts in sixth grade on the district’s Three E’s program—education, enlistment, employment— in identifying life pathways after graduation.

“In fall, the leadership team worked to identify the most important work we can do and came up with four priorities; teaching and learning, safety and wellness, school culture and operations,” Hunt said.

In addressing school safety and wellness, a second school resource officer was added in October when the district began a new partnership with the Madison Township Police Department.

The district is in the process of launching a Safety and Security Committee to help identify opportunities enhancing school safety.

“We’ve also taken great strides in improving our mental health teams,” said Hunt, who reported in addition to school counselors, each building has dedicated mental health professionals to support increasing needs.

In addressing school culture, by the end of the current school year, 100 percent of the school staff will complete leadership and equity training. The district is also focusing on internal communications and culture to combat staffing shortages.

“Last spring, CW Schools hired its first communications coordinator,” said Hunt.

A new website will launch in July, the district’s strategic plan is now called the Canal Winchester Promise and the business advisory council is being revamped.

Mike Locke Stadium renovations were completed in summer 2022 and include Americans with Disability Act accessibility compliant features, new track and turf field. Eighteen new classrooms will be added to Indian Trail as part of an expansion plan.

“We are seeing large growth in our enrollment starting in 2025 and again in 2027,” said Hunt.

In addressing school finances, Hunt said, “Our goal each year is to balance the budget. For the last seven years we have been able to do that. Fifty five percent of the budget is (from) local and 44 percent is from the state.”

Personnel costs take up the bulk of expenditures.

The current five-year forecast shows the district continuing to operate on a balanced budget through Fiscal Year 2025 when the district’s current five-year operating levy will expire. The five-year forecast shows an unbalanced budget after Fiscal Year 2025 because districts are required to forecast what would happen if existing levies were not renewed.

The district would receive about $6.8 million less revenue if the levy expired without renewal.

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