Rocky Fork Enterprise

Gahanna-Jefferson schools

Permanent improvements, new board on the way in 2014

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools leaders will evaluate permanent improvement needs this year, as well as serve as a test site for assessments.

District residents also will have a new school board majority representing them, with three new members.

Superintendent Francis Scruci told ThisWeek the district is putting a plan together to evaluate permanent improvement needs.

"We felt it was important to wait until this new board came on for an evaluation process," he said. "I don't think we'll be on (the ballot) in May. I think we can stay off the ballot until November. We'll try to get as much information as we can and have community meetings before those decisions are made."

The board will include newly elected members Matthew Campbell, Lew Griffin and Jason Phillips. They will join Jill Schuler, who was re-elected in November, and veteran board member Windy McKenna.

Longtime board member Claire Yoder didn't seek re-election. She was elected to the Jefferson Township board of trustees.

McKenna will serve as president pro-tem at the 2014 organizational meeting set at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, at Clark Hall, 380 Granville St., with the first regular meeting of the year to follow at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to a new board, Scruci said, a Parent Teacher Organization president committee has been formed.

"I'm meeting with PTOs from various schools once a month to communicate," Scruci said. "It's a two-way-street communication to discuss struggles going on and getting feedback from parents. I'll also try to form a senior citizens committee as well to get a perspective from community members who don't have children in the district. It's important to touch base with all facets of our stakeholders."

Because contracts were completed with district employees in the last half of 2013, he said, the district will be able to get back to focusing on kids.

"I think our biggest challenge is staying focused with things thrown at public education," he said. "Every day, I get up and I'm thankful to work with so many great people: our administration, teachers and our staff as a whole. We have excellent people doing excellent things with our kids. We will keep trying to raise the bar."

Scruci said he wants to continue to build the trust and support in the district.

"One of the things we have to look forward to is that we have the opportunity to be a test site for the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessment," he said. "That will give us some good insight of what we need to be, what's expected on those tests. That's a huge advantage for our district to see that."

The assessment represents a fundamental shift in how educators think about testing, state to state, according to the Ohio Department of Education website.

The assessment is based on the core belief that a test should not be a process to penalize educators and districts but rather a tool for enhancing teaching and learning.

The PARCC assessment is a group of 20 states voluntarily working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers.

"We'll continue to do a lot of good things," Scruci said. "The hiring season will be coming up. We will hunt the best and brightest, adding even more great teachers to what we have."

He said the district also would continue to look at ways to engage the community.

"We'll continue to expand on communication," Scruci said. "We're willing to address concerns, and we're open to topics."

The next community coffees with the superintendent will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, and from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Panera Bread, 91 N. Hamilton Road, at the Commons at Clark Hall.

Residents may enjoy free coffee while discussing any school-related business with Scruci.

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