Johnstown Independent

'Welcome to Northridge'

Boosters, PTO slate reception for new superintendent

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Northridge Academic Boosters and Northridge PTO invite the community to a "Welcome to Northridge" for new Superintendent Dr. Chris Briggs.

The reception for Briggs will be held from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, in the Northridge High School media center prior to the 6:30 p.m. board meeting.

The 6:30 p.m. regular meeting was moved from its usual Monday night because Jan. 21 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Briggs' first day at Northridge was Jan. 14.

Northridge Board of Education member Jayma Bammerlin said she's confident that ushering in a new superintendent in the new year also signals a new era of improved community communication and student services within the district.

"I'm very excited with the direction 2013 is going," Bammerlin said. "It's been a very busy week for (Briggs)."

Bammerlin said parents already have called her, praising Briggs.

George Tombaugh, assistant superintendent with the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, who has served as the district's interim superintendent since September, worked with Briggs this week to help familiarize him with the district.

Former Superintendent John Shepard resigned his position Sept. 14 but remains with the district as educational operations consultant for the rest of his existing contract, which expires July 31. He works mainly from home.

Briggs said the biggest challenge in the beginning will be in getting to know the community and staff and familiarizing himself with how Northridge works. One of his goals is to continue to enhance the community's sense of pride in the district.

"I want everyone to feel like the school is the center of the community," he said.

Briggs said Northridge faces many of the same challenges other districts face, such as incorporating the common core state standards and preparing students for the third-grade reading guarantee.

According to a Northridge press release, Briggs, who formally was hired Dec. 17, has more than 22 years of experience in education. He has served as regional executive director for Columbus City Schools since the start of the 2011-12 school year. He previously served as principal of New Albany Intermediate School for eight years and was principal at Hamilton Township High School prior to that. He also spent nine years with South-Western City Schools in administrative and classroom roles. Briggs earned his Doctorate of Education degree in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University and his master's in educational policy and leadership and educational administration from the Ohio State University.

Bammerlin said she is optimistic about 2013, following a tumultuous 2012, which included Shepard's resignation and a controversial board decision to limit transportation of students who live within the district but attend private schools.

She said the district would focus on the state's third-grade reading guarantee, whereby students are required to be able to read by the third grade.

"It's a good stepping stone for kids," Bammerlin said.

She said she also predicts technology upgrades within the district this year.

"We're looking at everything to help students be successful," she said.

Bammerlin said she expects communication to improve with the community via Briggs' leadership and a new district website, which should be online by summer.

"It was really needed," she said.

She said the new site would be more user-friendly than the existing site and would have more space for important updated information for students and parents.

Bammerlin said she doesn't expect the district to add or upgrade any facilities since purchasing modular classrooms last year.

"I don't think there will be any changes this year," she said. The district, however, did provide enhancements to security systems, including buzzer systems to limit entrance during school hours.

"It was all able to happen over Christmas break," Bammerlin said, adding that the enhancements were planned prior to the Sandy Hook School massacre and were not added as a result.

Limiting private school transportation has freed up some money for the district, she said.

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