By Jeff Gallatin
Superintendent Clint Keener said Bay Village school officials are intent on keeping the district’s house in order with improvements to its aging facilities and changes in instruction.
Keener emphasized both points Sept. 25 in his annual state of the schools remarks, which he made this year to the Bay Village Kiwanis. Keener told Westlife he changed formats this year from previous years by focusing on two primary areas of interest, district facility plans and changes in instruction and development, instead of giving an overview of all areas of the district.
“Right now, there’s so much information available to people who want it through the schools, PTA, the Internet, your publication and other media, I felt people could access info on many areas if they want it,” he said. “Instead, I thought it best to go over the areas which are the biggest issues for us right now.”
He said the district’s plans for its facilities are a major concern right now for the public and the district.
“That’s a pretty obvious one to go over, since we have the levy proposal on the ballot this November,” he said.
Earlier this year, district officials approved placing a $16.8 million, 1.96-mill capital improvements bond issue on the ballot. The levy would run for 25 years. District figures show that the average annual cost for homeowners were as follows: a $75,000 home, $45; $100,000, $60; $150,000, $91; $200,000, $121; $250,000, $151; and $300,000, $181.
District officials have emphasized the new proposal calls for no schools to be built. Instead, it proposes a series of renovations at various district schools and facilities. The proposals emphasize putting changes in the buildings that will increase the district’s ability to utilize modern technology in its educational curriculum as well as environmental needs, such as the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
Keener likened the proposal to doing needed work on a house.
“It’s like when you have a house that’s 40 years old or older,” he said. “Sometimes, you have to put a new roof on, or make changes to electrical or heating and air systems to make sure it’s the best house possible for you and your family. We want to make these changes to make sure the students continue to get a top education in the district.”
Keener also reiterated district officials believe it is better to make renovations and improvements on district facilities, which would cost less now than if they were to wait several years and have to make more expensive repairs or even replace existing buildings.
“We’ve determined that the current buildings are good and that their life and use can be extended if we do the renovations and changes in the next couple of years,” he said. “We’re fortunate because we have done some work in the last few years where we could within the regular budget, which also will cut down on our costs. We’re proud of how we care for our buildings and provide maintenance, roof replacements.”
Keener also noted that providing a better physical setting with modern facilities enhances learning.
He also addressed the changes in instruction and assessment, which will also ultimately enhance learning.
“The new content standards are in 46 states, which will help identify more easily what students should be able to do,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot more information out there available to us through a variety of sources at the state and many other levels.”
He said the new assessments and state tests will be online in 2014, which prompted the district to add end-of-course exams at the high school instead of a graduation exam. Keener added the district is making changes to deal more easily with the new standards.
“We are on track, adjusting curriculum to align, using common tests and online tests to measure student progress and make decisions about what we teach and how we teach,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work and training, but we embrace the common standards and the use of common assessments to measure progress.”
Keener said the district also is prepared for the recently added third-grade reading standards for retaining students until they can pass an approved assessment exam showing they read at the third-grade level. He said the district already has intervention programs in place and will complete written plans for all students not on track so parents can support their efforts.