Superintendent Dale McVey will conclude his tenure with the Hilliard City School District this summer, but, he says, he and other district officials will strive throughout 2013 to ensure the highest quality and standards within the district.
McVey, who will retire June 30, said the district's goals this year include a continued focus on streamlining operating costs, enriching educational opportunities and opening the Innovative Learning Center.
Topics such as fiscal responsibility and enhanced curriculum, McVey said, don't change drastically from year to year, but the content sometimes changes.
"As the needs of our students change, we are always continuing to align our curriculum with those needs," McVey said.
But district officials strive to do much more than simply add new course offerings.
"It's not just about expanding, but expanding with a purpose," McVey said.
The Innovative Learning Center is an example of that kind of expansion. The ILC will be at the district's administrative offices at 5323 Cemetery Road, adjacent to Scioto Darby Elementary School. The administrative offices will relocate to the district transportation center on Nike Drive in Columbus.
"It will be a different kind of experience for many of our students," McVey said.
The ILC is designed to provide educational opportunities to students of all needs in the district, said district spokeswoman Amanda Morris.
It will feature online learning opportunities and classes, as well as tutoring for at-risk or challenged students and enrichment programs for talented and gifted students.
A partnership with Tolles Career and Technical Center, a vocational school in Plain City that serves several districts in the area, also will be new the next school year.
"We will be offering a business academy and a teacher academy at the ILC," said Steve Estepp, executive director of K-12 curriculum and instruction.
McVey said the district wants to expand other programs that have proven successful, such as extending the STEM program, which includes science, technology, engineering and math classes, to the district's sixth-grade buildings.
"We are also always looking at our online learning opportunities," Estepp said.
Through shared programming and online classes, the district can reduce redundancies, said Estepp, adding it has been achieved with existing resources and in keeping with the district's pledge of fiscal responsibility.
"We always appreciate the support the community provides us and will be judicious with our dollars," McVey said.
He said the district has done much to save money -- $10 million since 2008 -- through the means it can control.
Cuts included instituting salary freezes, leaving vacant positions open and making adjustments in the transportation department.
"But not everything is in our control," McVey said, citing the state's biennial budget. "We expect the school funding formula to change again, but we don't know yet what that change will entail."
McVey said the district is concerned about the funding formula and will work closely with state legislators, particularly Stephanie Kunze, Cheryl Grossman and Mike Duffy, all of whom represent Ohio House districts with boundaries in the Hilliard school district.
Other activities of the Ohio General Assembly could also have an effect on Hilliard schools next school year, including Senate Bill 316, known as Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee, a new law requiring all third-grade students to pass a reading test to advance to the fourth grade.
The new law, which goes into effect this fall, has received criticism from many educators, including McVey.
"It is bad legislation (and) not good for kids," said McVey, adding he hopes critics are successful in compelling the new General Assembly to reconsider the current form of the law.
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As for McVey's retirement, district officials announced a plan in November to make the transition to a new superintendent as seamless as possible.
They plan to seek feedback from faculty and community members as they contemplate choosing a successor and announcing the final candidate to the community by the middle of March, even though McVey will stay on until June 30.
The Educational Service Center of Central Ohio on Nov. 29 began the district's proposed timeline to find a new leader by formally posting the job opening.
According to the proposed timeline:
* Community and staff surveys will be made available Jan. 7-22.
* The application deadline will be Jan. 29.
* School board members will conduct interviews Feb. 11 through March 1.
* School board members will announce the new superintendent March 11.
* The new superintendent will start July 1.