2013: new year, new challenges
G-J faces decisions on middle school redistricting
The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District's administration and school board will have to consider some middle school redistricting ideas with the community this year.
Superintendent Francis Scruci told ThisWeek that district residents should expect to hear ideas later this month about balancing enrollment in the middle schools.
"We'll roll out some redistricting ideas to level out the playing field, in terms of enrollment throughout the district, to make it more equitable in each of the buildings," he said. "Middle School West has the most students. We're looking at how to even the numbers out and even out programming in the middle schools."
Scruci said the district also would have some challenges with the teacher evaluation system being a little different.
"It's something we're preparing for," he said. "We're getting ready for that full implementation. The third-grade reading guarantee carries over into (this) year.
"We also have negotiations coming up with the teachers union in the spring," he said. "That's something we'll have to work through and maintain a good relationship with the teachers throughout that process."
In looking at educational programming, Scruci said, the district will try to find ways to continue offering its Chinese program despite losing $762,000 from a federal Foreign Language Assistance Program grant.
"Chinese is something the community wants us to continue," Scruci said. "I haven't heard anyone opposed. It's something we want to continue. We have to find ways to do that now that the grant has been taken away from us."
He said the district would offer dual credit this year, thanks to a partnership with Columbus State Community College.
"Kids can get college credit," he said. "We want to give them some different options."
Scruci said the school board soon would appoint a new member to replace Heather Bishoff, who resigned Dec. 30.
Bishoff won her bid in November for the Ohio House of Representatives' 20th District seat.
The board has been interviewing 23 applicants for the position.
The new member is expected to fill the vacancy by Jan. 10, in time for the board's annual organization meeting.
Academy to welcome first
female head of school
It won't be a new board member but rather a new head of school for Gahanna's Columbus Academy this year.
Academy's board of trustees has selected Melissa Boocock Soderberg as its first female head of school. She will begin work July 1, replacing John Mackenzie, who will leave in June after 16 years.
Soderberg, currently Upper School director at Breck School in Minnesota, will become the eighth head of school at Columbus Academy.
In appreciation of Mackenzie's leadership, the academy will host a "John Voyage" gala May 4 at the Hilton Easton.
During his tenure, the school has seen unprecedented growth and success, making it one of the most respected independent schools in the nation, as evidenced by a $2 million endowment from the Malone Family Foundation in 2010 to provide scholarships for top-level students with financial need.
No other school in Ohio has received this honor, said Bob Lee, academy communications director.
In addition to the leadership transition, Columbus Academy will connect with more parents of young children by hosting a pre-kindergarten, kindergarten- and first-grade showcase Jan. 23 and continue its early childhood learning series with free seminars Jan. 9 and 22 and Feb. 5. All are open to public. More information is available online at columbusacademy.org.