Budgetary concerns were among the continuing issues for Dublin City Schools during 2008.

Budgetary concerns were among the continuing issues for Dublin City Schools during 2008.

The year included several rounds of budget cuts and a levy and bond package for voters to approve.

Achievements during 2008 included the opening of the Westbridge Academy, and formation of the Dublin Alumni Association. Also, all three high schools receiving International Baccalaureate accreditation.

Budget cuts

The district made a series of budget cuts early this spring, topping more than $5.5-million to be spread over the next two fiscal years. The cuts, in the form of reduced expenditures and staffing adjustments, were not the result of a deficit or pending deficit, the district said. They were enacted to keep a promise to voters to keep the district at current operating levels through 2013 and to maintain the district's strong credit rating.

Issue 76

For district superintendent David Axner, the biggest success in 2008 was approval of the district's bond issue in the Nov. 4 election.

The $50-million bond to fund capital costs includes money for the district's 13th elementary school, additions to two middle schools and Coffman High School, safety improvements at all schools, technology, equipment replacement and maintenance.

The 7.9-mill permanent operating levy is expected to meet the district's financial needs through the 2012-13 school year. Collection of the levy won't begin until January 2010. It will cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 for tax purposes an additional $484 a year, according to the Franklin County auditor's office.

Westbridge Academy

When the district opened its door this academic year, it also opened the new Westbridge Academy, a school in Historic Dublin that caters to requirements of special needs students. The district previously paid tuition for these students to receive services elsewhere. Westbridge already is at capacity, with 28 students.

"We're really pleased to see it taking off like it has," Axner said last week.

The district also started its 12 Power Plus program, which serves special education students who have completed high school requirements and need to continue their education to gain additional work and life skills.

"We were paying so much money to service students with special needs and to outsource those services so we created our own school," Axner said.

Dublin Alumni Association

After several attempts to start an alumni association, the district achieved the goal in 2008. The Dublin Alumni Association was formed this year, open to any Dublin graduate in the district's history.

The association ultimately will maintain a graduate database, raise funds for the Dublin Education Foundation, provide reunion information and serve as a point of contact for all graduates.

The inaugural induction of the Alumni Association Hall of Fame took place in November.

International Baccalaureate

After a three-year review process, all three high schools received International Baccalaureate accreditation this year. The announcement came in March from officials in Geneva, Switzerland, where the program is based.

The program was first offered to students this fall.

The IB program provides classes that emphasize critical thinking, application of knowledge and an interdisciplinary approach with a global focus

Locally, Westerville South High School and Upper Arlington also offer the IB program.

Looking to 2009

While the district has positioned itself well financially, Axner said, the state budget is uncertain and could affect Dublin schools.

"Our challenge will be to keep the promise to the voters to keep current programming through 2013," Axner said. "That will be an effort. We're almost sure more reductions are coming statewide.

"Most of our successes started with a struggle," he continued. "I think most come back to appropriating the right funds."

New hires in 2009 will include a director of technology, a director of diversity and equality and a director of secondary education.

District staff members also will focus on revamping the middle school and high school science curriculum.

Also next year, Axner said, the district will discuss how it can incorporate pre-kindergarten into the curriculum.

"I believe the impact that would have on the district would save a lot of money as students get older," he said.

Construction projects are planned next year, mostly during the summer months. With the passage of the bond issue, the district will begin its plan for upgrades in security districtwide and reconfigure entrances to all 19 school buildings, Axner said.

"We have a lot planned for summer that will have a big impact," he said.

bdunlap@thisweeknews.com