Groveport Madison Local Schools Superintendent Scott McKenzie obtained Groveport Village Council’s pledge for a resolution of support for the school district’s attempt to obtain a federal Smaller Learning Communities grant.
"It would be a huge boost for our school," said McKenzie at council’s Jan. 22 committee of the whole meeting about the grant, adding that council’s resolution of support would help the district’s chance of obtaining the grant.
He said the federal grant could range from $850,000 to $1.2 million.
Council plans to vote on the resolution of support at its Jan. 28 meeting.
About small learning communities
At the Groveport Madison Board of Education’s Jan. 16 meeting, Groveport Madison High School teachers and administrators presented a plan to restructure next fall’s freshman class into "small learning communities" with the goal of expanding the concept to grades 10-12 in the coming years.
The concept is designed to create smaller class sizes by forming pods organized by foreign language studies with the students then sharing other academic core courses and teachers. It would involve teams of teachers and students working together to promote academics, improve attendance, improve behavioral problems, promote communication, and build unity.
Four teams of six teachers (math, English, social studies, science, foreign language, and physical education) would work with students within 13 or 14 rooms in the building, creating the feel of their own, smaller school for the 693 freshmen. It could also diffuse the crowding in the school’s hallways by compacting the areas where the students attend class where only students in that pocket of the school use those specific classrooms.
In their small learning communities grant proposal, Monique Hamilton, assistant principal at the high school, and social studies teacher Laura Soltis, stated small learning communities promote team teaching, interdisciplinary learning, in depth teaching of materials, more time on task, and greater teacher to student one on one instruction.
High School Principal Donis Toler said the goal is to reduce the student to teacher ratio to 15 to 1.
Hamilton and Soltis also noted the plan will also "foster greater parental support, community involvement, and student achievement."
To fund the concept, school officials plan on applying for 13 different grants totally from $2.2 to $2.5 million, including the federal small learning communities grant mentioned above that itself could fund the program for grades 9 and 10. The grants would provide monies for additional staff and teacher training for the program
However, Toler stated on Jan. 16 that, "grant or no grant we’re going ahead with the program." He said the school could work with existing resources to implement the plan, if necessary, at no extra cost to the district.