Superintendent John Shepard said the Northridge Local School District faces several challenges this year, including the renewal of a 1-percent income tax that's vital to district survival.

Superintendent John Shepard said the Northridge Local School District faces several challenges this year, including the renewal of a 1-percent income tax that's vital to district survival.

During Monday's annual state of the schools address, Shepard highlighted several district accomplishments and previewed what lies ahead in the near future.

Without renewal of the income tax, Shepard said, the district will be back to the financial crisis of last school year and face cuts and program losses.

"Many factors affect how schools are financed in the state of Ohio," he said. "As you know, Ohio is facing a tough economic time which trickles down to the funding of schools. We face the challenge of not knowing what percentage of our budget from the state could be cut to balance the budget."

Over the next few weeks, Shepard said the board of education faces tough decisions concerning what route to take to secure facilities and funding for current and future students.

To start the 2009-10 academic year, Shepard noted the district's successful transition to transportation provider Petermann.

"Both students and staff are pleased with the new service," he said.

An interesting yet challenging task, Shepard said, has been the collection of data from statewide testing.

"While our teachers have always used data to drive instruction, our grade configuration has brought new challenges of curriculum alignment and development," he said.

This year's curriculum updates will focus on language arts and math, with recommendations to purchase materials beginning in May.

Grant opportunities will also allow Northridge to offer an introductory Chinese language course next year at the high school.

Shepard also recognized the district's intervention specialists/special education teachers and all staff for helping Northridge meet adequate yearly progress on the state report card.

He said Northridge was one of only three districts in Licking County this year and one of two last year to meet that standard.

Shepard said the district's students have also increased community service outreach with fundraisers to bring awareness to breast cancer, hunger and animal rescue.

In board business Monday, a resolution was approved to seek a waiver for all-day, everyday kindergarten for 2010-11.

"Due to the logistics of such an undertaking in a short time, there's a waiver for postponement," Shepard said. "We submitted a plan so we can better explore it."

The board also approved:

Payment of the annual membership dues to the Ohio School Boards Association at a cost of $3,542.

The donation of 92 books for grade levels 1-4 to the Northridge Primary School from Lori Darby.

An Internet service provider contract between the Licking Area Computer Association and Northridge. The contract period for Northridge Primary begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2011 in the amount of $15,843. The contract for all other locations begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2015 for the total amount of $37,068 per year.

The 2010-2011 academic school calendar. Classes will begin Aug. 25, 2010, and end June 1, 2011. Graduation is scheduled June 5, 2011. Shepard said the calendar mirrors most districts in Licking County.

The next regular meeting of the Northridge board will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, in the high school media center.