About 140 community members listened Feb. 7 as New Albany-Plain Local Superintendent April Domine gave her State of the Schools address, covering topics such as improving student achivement and school safety practices.
Almost 70 gathered in the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts and another 70 tuned in to a live webcast through the district's website.
Domine spoke for more than an hour, detailing how the district is achieving its five goals to increase academic achievement, strengthen the positive school culture, provide a new system of teacher evaluation and growth, expand the district's international focus and improve communication and collaboration.
She said she tried to answer questions that had been submitted online prior to Feb. 7 and she accepted questions from the audience and questions submitted online after her presentation.
Domine opened the presentation with an update on the school district's security procedures.
She said the district now requires students to use key cards to access buildings. Exterior doors are locked at all times.
She said elementary students do not need a key card because they enter and leave buildings only with a teacher present.
Interior school doors also will remain locked, even if they are open. Domine said if a person with a weapon entered a building, district officials would use the public address system to alert everyone in all buildings of an intruder's location. She said all interior doors would be closed and doors that open out would be closed and bolted shut. Bolts have not yet been installed.
She said the district also will conduct unannounced lock-down drills.
Domine said an entryway buzzer system would be installed soon. District spokesman Patrick Gallaway said the district has spent $19,000 to upgrade building cameras, monitors and install the buzzer system.
Domine said the district also is consulting with local security forces and architects on enclosing building entrances, which would give visitors access to a building office and restrict them from having access to the rest of the building. Those changes have not been designed yet, she said.
To increase academic achievement, the district is aligning curriculum to the Common Core State Standards and other national and international standards.
Domine also highlighted the Ohio Department of Education's most recent state report card for the district, in which the district achieved its highest ever performance index score, which measures progress of all students, and likely regained Excellent with Distinction status.
She said the district wants to increase the rigor of its curriculum and make sure students know what they need to learn and can apply that knowledge to analyze data, solve problems or debate issues.
To improve student culture, Domine said the district as formed committees on diversity, anti-bullying and overall student culture.
She said the district has some intramural sports but cannot add more until it adds gymnasium space. The district has fourth-graders playing basketball at 9:30 p.m. because of the lack of gym space.
To change the teacher evaluation system, the district is using the new Ohio model, which includes classroom observation and student performance evaluations, Domine said. She said the district is mentoring teachers and is trying to help teachers learn their strengths while providing opportunities for them to grow.
To expand the district's international learning opportunities, the district is offering more foreign-language classes and investigating the use of an International Baccalaureate curriculum. Domine said the district also has added service learning field trips in other countries and is hosting a Global Education Summit in June to talk about international education.
She touched on the district's communications plan, which includes updating the website by Aug. 1 and enhancing the district's use of social media, before turning to financial data.
Domine also talked about the building the district is designing this spring and will start to build in the summer. It will house 1,200 students, most likely in grades 2 to 8, and it will have a gymnasium to help alleviate some of the pressures on other building gymnasiums, she said.
She said the 2-5 elementary bus loop will be upgraded as part of the project and she suggested that parents be patient and pay attention to current and future changes in the student drop-off loop.
The green space between the 2-5 elementary and middle school will be maintained as part of the project.
Domine said the two modular facilities would be removed after the new building opens in the fall of 2014 but residents should be warned that the district may need to add two more in the 2013-14 school year to handle anticipated expansion of the student population.