Olentangy Valley News

Superintendent's notebook

Olentangy opportunities come at bargain price

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As educators, we always look forward to back-to-school season -- nothing beats the positive energy of a school full of young minds at work.

But in Olentangy, we have another reason to look forward to those first few weeks of school. It's the time the Ohio Department of Education usually releases its local report cards, and it's our chance to share with you the results of a year's worth of hard work by our students and staff.

This year, the ODE and the State Board of Education have decided to delay the release of the local report cards due to some reporting issues in other school districts. We may have to wait several months before we see the official report card that contains a district rating and an overall performance index score.

While we wait to share our academic numbers, I'd like to take a moment to talk about some financial figures. What price would you put on a year's worth of excellent-quality education? In Olentangy, that price is $9,465. To put that in perspective, many highly rated districts in Ohio are spending between $10,000 and $15,000 per student each year.

Those of us who have chosen to be part of the Delaware County community are getting a very good return on our investments. All four school districts are providing excellent-rated educational products while keeping their costs per pupil right at $10,000 or below. That's not an easy achievement, and I'm proud to work in an educational community that's committed to finding ways to be more efficient without compromising the work that goes on inside the classroom.

Olentangy will continue its commitment to offering an excellent education at an efficient cost this year, and we'll also face several other challenges and opportunities. We will continue our transition to the Common Core standards, finalize our preparation for the third-grade reading guarantee and put the finishing touches on a dual-enrollment program designed specifically to meet the needs of Olentangy's students.

The Common Core is a set of internationally benchmarked teaching standards adopted by Ohio and more than 40 other states. These standards are designed to better prepare students for college, career and competition in a global economy. All Ohio school districts must have these in place by the 2014-15 school year, but Olentangy is ahead of the curve and well on its way to full implementation.

Senate Bill 316 has brought Ohio the third-grade reading guarantee. This measure calls for districts to retain third-grade students who are not reading at grade level beginning next year. Olentangy will be ready to implement this policy, but we are already working to ensure that all students are reading at grade level before the third grade. In fact, in many cases this work takes place in our phenomenal preschool program. We are getting students on the right track before they even enter kindergarten -- that's just one example of how Olentangy facilitates maximum learning for every student.

Finally, we are laying the groundwork for a very exciting dual-enrollment program with Columbus State Community College and its partners. This program will allow Olentangy students to earn credit that can transfer to any public college in Ohio. It will also give our students a preview of college life and all of the demands and expectations that come with it.

That's a quick look at what lies ahead for Olentangy. We're excited to meet these challenges and ensure that they create new and meaningful opportunities for our students. I invite you to visit the district website, olentangy.k12.oh.us, to learn more about these initiatives as they develop.

Wade Lucas is superintendent of the Olentangy Local School District.

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