Bexley City School District administrators said they handled many challenges in 2008, including the hiring of a new athletics director, debating whether to offer all-day kindergarten and upgrading to 21st century technology.

Bexley City School District administrators said they handled many challenges in 2008, including the hiring of a new athletics director, debating whether to offer all-day kindergarten and upgrading to 21st century technology.

The technology issue will carry over into 2009, when leaders also will examine the district's finances.

The technology department is hoping to expand the district's network through fiber optics to allow for more storage as well as the ability to stream videos over the Internet, Superintendent Michael Johnson said.

"We hired a network manager this past year, and we are going to take full advantage of the new person's skills," he said.

But 2009 also could be a year of financial difficulty, Johnson said.

At the Dec. 15 school board meeting, treasurer Chris Essman reported revenue is expected to decrease in the coming year. The school board passed a resolution instructing Johnson to look into possible cuts for the 2009-10 school year.

"We are going to have to tighten our belt," Johnson said.

School board members and district administrators will look at placing a levy before voters in 2010, he said. The district also is looking at changing the staffing patterns in the schools to save money and match declining enrollment, especially in the middle school.

"We are going to do it through attrition," Johnson said.

School board president Diane Peterson said the budget appears to be the largest issue for school board members in 2009.

"The final challenge will be assessing the overall picture of our budget," she said.

Peterson said the district likely will adopt a strategic plan early next year as well as start the search for a new principal for Montrose Elementary in February. The board approved current principal Tommie Radd's resignation at the November board meeting.

As for 2008, Peterson said the discussion surrounding all-day kindergarten was a challenge in the beginning of the year.

In March, school board members voted against the measure to offer all-day classes for kindergartners. Currently, the district offers half-day kindergarten.

One of the main issues was the cost of offering all-day kindergarten. Earlier this year, Essman estimated it would cost the district about $420,000 each year for supplies and to pay the salaries and benefits of four new kindergarten teachers.

Peterson said interesting ideas came from the discussion.

"That was a challenging dialogue and very informative for the school board," she said. "I was pleased that so many individuals in the community were invested in all-day kindergarten and attended the board meetings to express their support."

Another challenge in 2008, Peterson said, was finding a replacement for athletics director John Morgan, who left the district over the summer to become an assistant principal at Central Crossing High School in Grove City.

District officials hired Molly Feesler, who previously served in the same capacity at DeSales High School.

Johnson noted a few other challenges from 2008.

He said the transition in the technology department forced him and other administrators to take a hard look at technology and the future of the district.

Johnson said that Paul Ross, the new technology director, has helped to transition the department.

"There's a new director with a new direction," the superintendent said. "He is implementing a plan that is pretty aggressive."

Johnson said technology in the district received a big boost this year with the addition of SMART Boards in every classroom, thanks to a grant from the Bexley Education Foundation.

Johnson was proud that Bexley schools continued to receive high marks in 2008.

"This was the second year in a row the special education department had a perfect score for meeting standards," he said.

The district earned the highest rating of "excellent with distinction" on the Ohio Department of Education report card.

"Each of our schools continues to be recognized in a number of ways," Johnson said.

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com