Thursday, January 8, 2015

Elementary school additions, middle school schedules to be addressed

Year in Review
Several initiatives are expected to move forward in 2015 in the Dublin City School District, including two elementary school additions and a revised middle school schedule.

"It's all about continuous improvements," said Todd Hoadley, Dublin superintendent. "That's been a focus of great organizations like ours for a long time."

Several of the changes will be the result of the district's growing student population.

Board President Lynn May said change isn't easy, but the district hopes to bring in more people to the decision-making process so people can feel more ownership about decisions.

Community members can look forward to the State of the Schools address at 6 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Abbey Theater in the Dublin Community Recreation Center.

Most of the district's upcoming changes are coming as a result of recommendations from the district's four task forces:


Facilities
In January, the Dublin Board of Education will decide on construction additions for two elementary schools.

Two additions are expected to open in fall 2016 and another three are scheduled to open in fall 2017.

May described how additions to elementary schools are less disruptive than construction of new schools because they don't require redistricting, they cost less and cause fewer burdens.

The district will use funds originally designated for construction of a 13th elementary school to, instead, build the additions. In the summer, about 20 district buildings will also receive roof work and paving.


Middle school schedule
Three years ago, the district changed the middle school schedule.

An unintended consequence of the change was that students had less choices for music, physical education and art classes.

This fall, a new schedule will be put in place at all the middle schools.

In January, the district will host community nights to discuss the upcoming changes and listen to feedback.

Early in the spring, members of the task force will visit other school districts to study alternative schedules and see which would work best for Dublin.

The task force will present proposed changes to the school board in the spring.


Gifted education
The district has already formed a draft of their new service model for gifted students and presented it to community members.

"We're currently asking ourselves what a world-class gifted education in Dublin would look like," Hoadley said.

The task force will meet in January to consider the community's feedback and then revise the draft.

In the spring, the gifted education task force will present its recommendations to the board for the first stage of changes.

Hoadley said the elementary gifted program is expected to look a little different this fall.


Staffing
Changes resulting from the gifted education services, middle school schedule and growing enrollment will be the driving forces behind staffing changes next year.

Hoadley said the district will continue to look at each position and see if it's a priority.

"We're very cautious with the resources that taxpayers entrust with us," May said.

Hoadley also said the district wants to empower employees with more tools so they can do their jobs efficiently.

The district's Business Advisory Council plans on partnering with local businesses to bring a diversified workforce and recruit the best talent.

"As our student body changes, we need to have a teaching staff that reflects our student body," Hoadley said.



Technology
Dublin will continue to make strong investments in technology.

Through a partnership with the City of Dublin, $1.5 million will be invested in technology for the next 33 years.

This is part of the Bridge Street Agreement between Dublin City Council and the school district.


Finances
May mentioned one of the district's concerns for next year will be the state's biannual budget for school districts. The budget will be drafted in January and approved in July.

"We can voice our concerns to legislators and try to let them know how we feel, but a lot of it is in their hands," she said.

May said she believes district officials focus efforts and resources on students.

"I love our students and their families, who care about their education," she said. "That is why their graduation is the best day of the year for me."

Hoadley emphasized Dublin's No. 1 focus will always be to make sure the district operates in a prudent, ethical and efficient manner.