2012 was tumultuous for school district
With cuts, honors and a campaign for a levy and bond issue, 2012 has been a tumultuous year for Dublin City Schools.
The district started the new year looking into cuts after voters rejected a $25-million bond issue and 7.2-mill operating levy in November, 2011. Cuts, plans and campaigns for a new tax issue dominated most the year.
During the first few months of 2012, the district worked to cut $7.1 million from its budget that included $1.5 million in operation efficiencies, cuts to professional development, supplemental contracts and field trips and modifications to busing routes.
About $2 million in reductions were made by cutting nine positions in the central office, increasing class sizes and the elimination of one period at the high schools.
"We've been trying to grab savings from different areas around the district," Superintendent David Axner said in February. "We're trying to save the classroom."
Teachers were not absolved from cuts. The district laid off 16 teachers and abolished 46.5 teaching positions in March.
About 90 retirements and resignations saved several positions throughout the district as employees were shifted to different areas to avoid layoffs.
"After the levy failed, we were talking about 100 positions (to be eliminated)," Axner said in March.
The positions eliminated by the board included high school language arts, math, business, French, middle school-level Spanish, physical education and 12.5 elementary teachers.
With cuts in place, the Dublin Board of Education then grappled with what request to return to voters with in November.
Although the 2011 bond issue included seven new classrooms at Deer Run Elementary and four at Glacier Ridge Elementary, board of education members opted to include only maintenance, technology and a few important projects at three schools to decrease the funding request to go to voters.
In June, the board of education approved seeking a combined 6.4-mill operating levy and $15.8-million bond issue on the November ballot, which was almost 1 mill less than the 2011 tax issue.
"This is greatly reduced from the last issue," Axner said during the summer.
The board of education in September approved a contingency plan that would institute $10 million in cuts if the 2012 bond and levy issue were to fail.
Cuts included five central office positions, the elimination of some classroom aids, custodians and high school busing as well as a significant increase to pay-to-participate fees.
Altogether 125.5 positions were included in the contingency plan.
The district celebrated when residents approved the combined 6.4 mill operating levy and $15.8-million bond issue in November with 56 percent of the vote.
"It was loud and clear this time last year that the community wanted us to continue to make cuts," Board President Chris Valentine said after the victory.
"We did that and continue to do that, but we're thankful for the overwhelming support from the community ... ."
Also making headlines in May, Axner announced he would leave the district to be associate executive director of the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators in 2013.
"I've always wanted to do something statewide," he said during the announcement. "The association (of secondary school administrators) recruited me. I wasn't out looking and applying. Career-wise it makes sense to me. Family-wise it's good."
Axner became superintendent of Dublin City Schools in 2007 after 17 years in the Chagrin Falls school district.
The announcement came amidst cuts and funding decisions, and the district opted to concentrate on the levy issues at hand before funding a replacement.
After the bond and levy issue passed in November, the board of education began the search for a new superintendent and will use the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.
Late in the year, the district surveyed residents on qualities they want in a new superintendent and the position will be posted for applicants early in 2013.
'Excellent with distinction,' sort of
Although the district struggled with cuts and passing a new tax issue in 2012, achievement in the district did not suffer.
Final state report cards have not yet been released by the state, but preliminary results show Dublin City Schools will receive the top rating of "excellent with distinction" on the 2011-12 report card.
The district also met 26 of 26 state indicators and achieved its highest performance index score of 107 points out of 120.
"That's nine years in a row we've had the highest academic rating," Axner said in the fall. "There are only 13 (districts) in the state now that have that."
On the state report card, the district met Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, which measures whether students in nine subgroups meet goals in reading and math.
For the value-added rating that determines the progress students have made since the last academic year, Dublin was rated above, which means the district exceeded expected growth.
One Dublin robotics team also made district history.
The Sells Middle School FIRST Lego League team, Moderately Confused, participated in state competitions and took first place in the Global Innovation Awards.
Each year, teams must come up with an invention that solves a problem and in last year's food challenge, the team created an erasable barcode that would render a barcode on meat unreadable if stored at improper temperatures too long.
The team competed against teams from throughout the world and for first place won $250,000 in services from Edison National to help develop and market their invention.
"There are no words to describe how good I felt," team member Rahul Mal said in July after the awards were handed out at the U.S. Patent office in Washington, D.C.
"It felt great, but it was more than that."