Dublin Villager

Look ahead

Schools prepare to deal with state mandates

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The Dublin City School District will deal with a big change in 2013.

New state mandates and online learning will come in 2013, but one of the biggest changes for the school district will be in leadership.

Superintendent David Axner will leave in the fall to become associate executive director of the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators.

"I'm very excited to hand over this school district in the shape it is in," Axner said, noting the district is doing well academically and financially after voters approved a combined levy and bond issue in November.

"The stability of the district is stronger because of the people," Axner said. "I would match our people against any others.

"We have four or five people in the district that will be superintendents in the next few years ... . We've been able to build a very strong team."

Axner said he is hoping to give the new superintendent something he didn't have -- a smooth transition.

When Axner came to Dublin City Schools in fall 2007, former superintendent Linda Fenner was already gone. Fenner stepped down in March 2007 after former district treasurer Chris Mohr accused her of sexual harassment.

Axner had no chance to ask Fenner any questions and was left with a 20- to 25-year plan for the district.

"We're working on a five-year facility plan (for the new superintendent)," Axner said.

"I look forward to having that document and discussing what the next learner will look to. It will be nice to get that information."

While Axner plans to make the transition to new leadership as smooth as possible, it will be a bittersweet experience.

"I won't be satisfied here until there is someone selected that plans to carry the torch and I feel comfortable," he said.

"I have such mixed feelings to leave this district."

After he is no longer in charge of Dublin City Schools, Axner plans to stay involved with the district.

Three of his six children still attend Dublin City Schools; the youngest is a seventh-grader at Karrer Middle School.

"I can't tell you I haven't had second thoughts," he said, adding he'll miss the comments of appreciation when in public.

"It will be a melancholy (time) going through the last few months," Axner said.

New state mandates affecting the district in 2013 include teacher evaluations, the third-grade reading requirement and a new state report card for the district.

"The impact for Dublin will be minimal," Axner said, noting new college readiness requirements are things the district has been working on for years.

The district is also bracing for a new biennial state budget and a new school funding formula from Gov. John Kasich.

"The conversations have not been real positive for the Dublins of the world," Axner said of the possible new state funding formula for schools. "They continue to confuse local dollars and state dollars."

District Treasurer Stephen Osborne expects the new state budget to be released in February.

"We're always concerned with the state budget. Right now, the state foundation (funding) is about 9 percent of general operating funds," Osborne said.

"We never know because the governor is looking at introducing a new state funding formula, how that will affect suburban districts like ours remains to be seen," Axner said.

"We're working closely with local legislators."

This month, the district's new technology hub will open in a building behind the central office.

"It will be one of the driving forces in regards to online learning for students," Axner said.

"In the next few years, we'll see a difference in what high school learning will look like."

The center will also make virtual field trips possible for middle school and elementary school students. It will also make high school classes for advanced middle school students possible.

"Flexibility is the key,". Students will be able to take a class at night or in the summer and when they're done, they're done."

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