Delaware News

Bond issue, growth will challenge schools in 2013

District leaders prepare for new state mandates as they seek solution to overcrowded schools


The Delaware City School District will be busy this year as leaders prepare for a possible May ballot issue, implement new state curriculum standards and update mandated teacher evaluation policies.

Superintendent Paul Craft said the district has had the most active legislative sessions in the last 18 months that he has ever seen.

Craft said one of the biggest concerns for the district has been increasing enrollment.

"We have 200 more students enrolled in our district than we did at this same time last year," he said. "We are stretched."

During its Dec. 20 meeting, the school board approved two resolutions -- a resolution of necessity and a resolution to file with the state -- in order to move forward with a bond issue on the May ballot.

The final step will be taken at the school board meeting Monday, Jan. 7, during which board members plan to pass a resolution to proceed.

The bond issue will be less than 2 mills and would cost homeowners roughly $56 per $100,000 in property value. Craft said the exact amount won't be known until information is filed with the state.

"I believe this is a conservative approach from a fiscal perspective, while still meeting the challenges that we have," he said.

The district has been preparing to adjust to the new curriculum standards mandated by the Ohio Department of Education, which will be implemented in the 2014-15 school year.

"We have already begun to implement some of the changes into our Common Core standards, but we are still working on revising all areas of study," Craft said.

The new Third-Grade Reading Guarantee also will affect the district this year as it endeavors to make sure all students meet the new state goals.

At the high school level, the district will expand post-secondary options for students.

Right now, there are several dual enrollment programs, but the district will partner with other colleges and technical institutes to expand current opportunities and create new ones, Craft said.

One of the biggest and most time-consuming challenges for the district will be to update teacher evaluation policies.

The mandated teacher evaluation plan must be revised and put into effect by June 30, in time for the 2013-14 school year.

Craft said all teacher evaluations will have to include the use of student growth data, which will comprise 50 percent of the teacher's evaluation.

"This is easier said than done," he said. "Not all our teachers have these kinds of assessments. We will have to create assessments for our music, art and special-education teachers."

The evaluations apply only to teachers and staff who spend at least 50 percent of their time with students.

Guidance counselors and administrative assistants, for example, will not be evaluated using the new system.

Craft said the schools and the teachers union will have to work together to get a policy and system in place by June 30.