For the South-Western City School District, 2013 was a groundbreaking year.
The district broke ground on the construction of five new school buildings, the first phase of its $250 million Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were held May 29-31 at Prairie Norton, Harmon, Alton Hall and Monterey elementary schools. Students are continuing to attend class in the old buildings while the new schools are being built. Construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Sept. 13 for the new Franklin Heights High School building.
Also in September, the school board selected Bolton Crossing as the name of the new school that will replace North Franklin Elementary School, which will be built as part of the project's second phase.
Over the year, a committee worked to create a final recommendation for a redrawing of elementary school boundaries.
A revision of the school boundaries is needed because of the relocation of North Franklin Elementary School, the combining of East Franklin and Finland elementary schools and the additional space that will result from the construction of new buildings.
In October, three draft boundary maps were presented at community meetings. The district will unveil a final draft proposal at a community meeting set Jan. 22, 2014, at Central Crossing High School.
Work also began this year on renovation projects at Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods elementary schools. When completed, the renovations will upgrade the two schools to the same standards as the new buildings.
New report card
This year, the Ohio Department of Education changed its state report card system and the state's Third Grade Reading Guarantee went into effect.
South-Western's results in these assessments were a mixed bag.
In the last report card under the old system, officially released Feb. 27 and covering the 2011-12 school year, the district met 20 of the 26 indicators, an increase of two over the previous year and the highest number the district has ever reached. The district earned an overall rating of "excellent."
The district ranked 12th in the state in the value-added measure. The report card data shows South-Western overall did not meet adequate yearly progress.
The new system evaluates districts using a letter grade format.
The report card covering the 2012-13 school year was issued Aug. 22 and South-Western earned an overall C grade for meeting 17 of 24 standards.
The district earned more C's than A's and received an F in the Annual Measurable Objectives category.
The reading guarantee means third-graders who have not passed the state reading assessment at year's end will not be promoted to fourth grade.
In the fall assessment, 27 percent of South-Western's third-graders did not pass the reading test.
Executive Director of Elementary Schools Brian Bowser said the district will be redoubling its intervention efforts to make sure as many students pass the test as possible when it is given again in the spring.
The district and some of its schools were given special recognition this year.
In April, Monterey, North Franklin and Richard Avenue elementary schools were lauded by the ODE as Schools of Promise based on their 2011-12 local report cards.
In November, the Battelle for Kids' SOAR Project recognized Holt Crossing Intermediate School and Finland Middle School as High Progress Schools, signifying they are ranked among the top SOAR participants.
It marked the third time Holt Crossing won a SOAR award.
The district was also recognized as a Significant Progress District by Battelle.
In July, school board member Jo Ellen Myers resigned because her family was moving to Florida.
The board selected Lee Schreiner to complete Myers' term. A retired teacher, Schreiner worked 37 years in the district as a gifted education teacher.
Schreiner and incumbents Karen Dover and Cathy Johnson ran unopposed in the November election.
The school board approved new three-year contracts in September with the district's administrators and classified support staff and in November with the South-Western Education Association. SWEA is comprised of certificated staff, including teachers, guidance counselors, nurses, psychologists and tutors.
All three contracts give the employees a 2-percent pay increase each year.