Some thoughts for a third term
There is an old Yiddish proverb that says that man plans and God laughs. That is certainly true of School Board members. Much of what we do in Worthington will be governed by state government so an important part of the job is making sure that Worthington’s input into state education policy is always heard. Education in our district, state and nation is going through an unprecedented time of change and unfortunately, local initiatives always take a back seat to those championed by the President, Governor, Legislature and State Board of Education. This is why I am, frankly, reluctant to promise anything specific during this campaign as so much of what we do is controlled by external forces.
That said, I do have some general ideas for a third term and I’d also like to hear your thoughts for how our district should move forward.
· Technology. Worthington has made significant progress in the technology available to students and in the infrastructure required to support that technology. I would like to see Worthington’s technology committee investigate a 1:1 initiative where every kid has a device capable of Internet access for educational purposes throughout the school day, and I’d like to see education augmented to utilize such devices. We must obviously be mindful of costs and equity issues. Our district has already planned to have the Internet bandwidth necessary to support such an initiative.
· Teacher Evaluations. There is nothing more important to learning than having a quality teacher in the classroom. The Ohio Teacher Evaluation System is an attempt by the Ohio legislature to bring some standards to the evaluation process while also providing some flexibility to local districts like Worthington. The evaluation process laid out by state law is very complex. For over a year, under the guidance of Assistant Superintendent Trent Bowers, a team consisting of teachers, principals, administrators and myself representing the Board of Education has been crafting a plan that complies with state law and is fair to our teachers. We are rolling out the plan this year. It is absolutely imperative that we get this right, and that means addressing whatever issues and problems are identified during the upcoming school year.
· Principal Evaluations. Under the direction of Superintendent Tucker, Worthington principals have been empowered to be the CEO of their own buildings. The Ohio Principal Evaluation System and its Worthington implementation must assure that they are accountable for the results. While we are mandated to consider student growth in the evaluation, we must also consider culture/climate issues, student opportunities, community integration, parental communication and a myriad of other factors into the overall evaluation.
· Financial Sustainability. Our district has adapted a policy of “Reasonable Levies at Reasonable Intervals”. This page highlights what we’ve collectively done to meet that objective. Over the next four years, we must meet the challenges of Common Core, OTES, the third grade reading guarantee and a mandate that every kid in the district succeeds while also ensuring the district remains affordable to the people that live here. My personal goal (and my colleagues may see things differently) is that we should not require an additional property tax levy until at least 2017 assuming status quo legislation from the State. The 2013 State Budget was very positive for Worthington. I will advocate that we use most of the unexpected (unforecasted) funds to extend the life of the 2012 levy while investigating investing some of the new money into new programming in which a broad consensus exists that our district should provide for students. A foreign language program in our elementary schools is one such program.
· Legislative mischief. A large portion of the job is keeping an eye on legislative proposals that impact our district or my constituents. In some cases, the legislation speaks to our financial well-being. In others, it impacts significantly what we teach and how we teach it. Worthington is a lighthouse district and our Board and administration are frequently asked their opinions on legislative proposals.
· Communications. Our district needs to significantly upgrade its communications infrastructure. As with any large, complex organization with thousands of stakeholders, we need to reach out using multiple tools to provide as much or as little information as each individual stakeholder may want or need. This might require the expanded use of our web site, social media, opt-in email lists, direct mail, community forums as well as the more traditional methods employed by our PTA’s, PTO’s and other district organizations.
· Choices and Opportunities. Our district needs to continue to provide relevant options to all students. We need a foreign language program in our elementary schools and we need to reach beyond Spanish, French and Latin. Our STEM programming is very strong but the need for increased offerings is even stronger.
· Climate/Culture. No discussion of a third term would be complete without mentioning my passion for focusing on Drug/Alcohol abuse and bullying. These are societal problems that will not be solved in Worthington, however, we must do all we can. No academic program will help a kid who comes to middle school each day fearful of being bullied and no academic intervention will help a kid who comes to one of our high schools stoned. We have made great strides over the last 8 years in addressing these issues, but it is simply not enough. I will continue to work with Worthington’s administrators as well as outstanding community organizations such as Drug/Safe Worthington to continue battling this issue.
Paid for by the Committee to Re-Elect Marc Schare, Lea Rankin, Treasurer, 2113 Selbourne Ct, Dublin OH 43016