At a special meeting March 24, the Groveport Madison Board of Education worked on creating a lengthy list of goals for the district.
The board plans to reconvene on a yet-to-be-determined date to prioritize the list and assign time frames for the goals’ implementation.
Once the board finalizes the goals, the community will be asked to participate in an open forum to create a new district mission statement.
"I call for 25 to 30 stakeholders representing a cross-section of the district and a spectrum of thought to help when it comes to writing the mission statement," said Groveport Madison Superintendent Scott McKenzie.
Currently the district’s mission statement reads, "The mission of Groveport Madison Schools is to promote the interests of children while advocating scholarship, good character and service."
Board President Dr. Naomi Sealey said both the goals and the mission statement should have been completed earlier in the year, and that the previous five months represented a "complete loss of time."
The goals equated to a wish list of district improvements ranging from elementary school keyboarding classes to a passing grade on the state report card.
The funding situation
To implement many of the items would require voters to approve a levy and/or a bond issue. District voters have not approved a new levy since 1991 and voters have not passed a bond issue (for buildings) since the 1970s.
"It’s awful what we are doing to the community and these students by not asking for more money," said board member Mary Tedrow.
"You cannot ask for more money if you don’t have a budget," said board member John Kershner.
Currently the district operates on what McKenzie called a zero-based budget. For example, if a custodian needs to purchase floor wax, he asks the district and receives it. No budget exists for the district to determine whether the custodian’s request was excessive or in-line with previous years.
"The situation is going to rectify itself," McKenzie said.
Even so, creating a budget was listed as a goal.
Kershner said that the district’s budget was not so much zero-based as "lost in the woods."
"We have been bleeding money without really understanding where it goes," Kershner said.
Kershner encouraged the district to seek additional revenue from grants, business partnerships and through strengthening its booster clubs.
"A healthy booster organization should bring in $200,000 and would help with everything," Kershner said.
If the boosters earned more money for their activities, less money would be needed from the district. The schools could use the funds for other projects.
Kershner suggested the district research the amount of money raised by neighboring booster clubs then "raise a flag (for its own clubs). Here is where you should be based on your peers."
Another goal would be to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirement needed to pass the state report card. Schools meet AYP by having more students pass the assessment tests than they did the previous year. The improvement must continue until every student passes both the math and language exams, and thus "no child is left behind."
Susan Briggs, director of school improvement, said that Groveport Madison could not pass the AYP because many of the high school students refuse to take the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT).
To pass, 95 percent of the special education students must participate in the OGT. Incentives including free transportation and even electronic gifts have failed to entice students who have stopped attending school to return for the test.
"They didn’t want to come," Briggs said.
Other goals discussed included: better preparing students for life after school, lowering the 30 to 1 ratio of students to teachers, creating a preschool building, improving classroom technology, and implementing more safety features.
Examples of improved safety features would include additional surveillance cameras, new policies for students who walk to school, and locks on classroom doors.