Pickerington Times-Sun

Pickerington school board outlines 2013 goals


The Pickerington Board of Education's new president and vice president recently identified replacing the district's outgoing treasurer and the implementation of new state standards for measuring student and teacher achievement among their top goals for 2013.

Jan. 14, the board unanimously voted to elect Cathy Olshefski as board president and Clay Lopez vice president.

The moves were part of the board's annual, organizational business, as new leadership is selected at the start of every calendar year.

Olshefski, who joined the board in January 2010, served as vice president in 2012 and replaces former board president Lori Sanders.

"I'm quite honored to serve the community in this role this year," Olshefski said.

Lopez, who's served on the board since May 2008, was elected to fill Olshefski's former seat as vice president.

"I am always grateful and thankful to serve in any capacity for the board and the community," Lopez said.

Both officials identified the hiring of a full-time district treasurer as the board's top priority.

They will be seeking a replacement for Dan Griscom, PLSD treasurer since May 2008, who is retiring effective Feb. 1.

A replacement is not expected to be in place before the end of the 2012-13 school year.

The board Jan. 14 voted unanimously to appoint PLSD business manager Vince Utterback to serve as interim-treasurer.

Utterback was PLSD treasurer from March 2002 to April 2008.

He resigned from the post in April 2008 to become director of business affairs and operations for Kent State University, but was rehired a month later as Pickerington's director of business affairs and operations.

Prior to that, Utterback was hired by the district in 1994 to serve as assistant treasurer.

Last week, Olshefski and Lopez said the search for Griscom's full-time replacement was already under way and Olshefski said the district has an "excellent pool of candidates" for the post.

Another priority for 2013 will be implementation of new, state-mandated "Common Core" curriculum for students and processes for evaluating student and teacher achievement.

The new systems will bring Ohio in line with 46 other states in the U.S. and must be in place at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

They're designed as a departure from traditional educational methods based on memorization skills and measure students' learning growth, as well as teachers' effectiveness in preparing students for working in the 21st century economy.

"Our teaching and learning department -- along with the Race to the Top team -- has been working hard for three-plus years to prepare for the complete implementation of these standards in the 2013-14 year," Olshefski said.

"As a pilot district, (Pickerington) is working hard to ready itself for the implementation of the new evaluation system for our teaching staff. Superintendent, treasurer and support staff evaluation systems will follow soon thereafter."

Lopez added the change to Common Core principles and practices will be challenging for all school officials, but the district has positioned itself well through training and planning.

" There will be an adjustment period, but that is the case with any change," Lopez said.

"Our goal is to implement the new state of Ohio standards and maintain the reputation of a great school district that has been built over the years," he said.

"We have a strong, competent, excellent team at all levels of our organization that will make the transition smooth. As a district, we are committed to providing the children the best educational experience. We are committed to that promise and strive for it daily."

Moving forward into the New Year, both officials asked for the community to be invested partners in the direction of the district.

Olshefski said communication with the community will be vital if the district hopes to successfully venture into these unchartered waters.

"It is an exciting -- and somewhat scary -- time to be in education," she said.

"Whether you're a teacher or a student or a parent, you can't miss the fact that there's a lot of change happening right now. But that's OK.

"We're in the midst of a little revolution in this country to improve the educational process," Olshefski said.

"Creating an educational environment that challenges our students in the areas of rigor and relevance will do nothing but improve their chances for success in the future. And at the end of the day, isn't that what we want for our kids?"