Pickerington Times-Sun

District seeks focus groups to examine programs, staff


Pickerington Local School District Superintendent Rob Walker is planning to form focus groups to examine the district's classroom programming and staffing levels.

A month after stating 2012-13 will be a year of evaluation for the Pickerington Local School District, Walker Monday, Sept. 10, said he hopes to have three school focus groups in place to begin work in October.

The first-year superintendent said those groups will be charged with reviewing the district's current classroom programming direction, as well as staffing at each education level to ensure students are getting well-rounded and quality learning experiences.

Specifically, the groups will evaluate the impact of the approximately $13 million in cuts approved by the Pickerington Board of Education in April 2011, which lead to layoffs for 82 teachers and 43 staff members, in addition to changes in how the district delivers music, art, physical education and media technology education to elementary students.

Walker said he wants the groups to determine if the cuts, which district officials previously have said were brought on by both the need to integrate curriculum to better prepare students for a global economy and job market, as well as the district's legal requirement to balance expenditures with revenues, still make sense.

"Any time you go through reductions like the district did ... obviously, those reductions cause pain," Walker said.

Walker said he plans to create three focus groups.

One will evaluate the district's elementary schools, a second will review practices at middle schools and junior high schools, and the third would focus on high school curriculum and staffing.

Walker said he hopes to have 8 to 12 volunteers for each focus group, and encouraged community members who might be interested in participating to contact the district office.

"I would like those focus groups to begin in October," he said.

As proposed, the focus groups' findings would be presented to the school board in January, and Walker will consult with the board about possible curriculum and staffing changes at that time.

Other matters

In other action Sept. 10, the school board unanimously approved bus stops for the 2012-13 school year.

Board members didn't discuss specific stops or changes which have occurred over previous years, but district officials said letters related to bus stop information have been sent to parents, and bus stop information is available on the district's website, www.pickerington.k12.edu.

Additionally, the board unanimously approved spending $2,571.25 for annual membership dues to the School Study Council of Ohio.

According to Walker, the membership offers district administrators, teachers and staff professional development training related to new, "critical" education initiatives being implemented by state legislators and the Ohio Department of Education.