West Side News

Busy year of building ahead again for district

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Construction will continue to be a major focus in 2014 for the South-Western City School District.

Six of the seven new school construction or renovation projects that comprise the first phase of the district's Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project are slated to be completed this year.

New buildings at Alton Hall, Harmon, Monterey and Prairie Norton elementary schools and renovations at Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods elementary schools will be completed by late summer or early fall, Superintendent Bill Wise said.

"It's really exciting to drive by those sites now and see the buildings really taking shape," he said.

Students at Alton Hall, Harmon, Monterey and Prairie Norton will move into their new school buildings early next school year, Wise said, and the existing buildings will host students from four schools that will be involved in the second phase of the districtwide building project.

Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held in the spring for the construction of new buildings at Darbydale, Finland, J.C. Sommer and Stiles elementary schools and for the new Bolton Crossing Elementary building, which will replace North Franklin Elementary School.

The second-phase new schools should be completed by the fall of 2015, Wise said.

Work also will continue on the construction of a new Franklin Heights High School building, which is expected to open in the fall of 2016.

Another type of building project has been the district's effort to upgrade the technology in each school.

"We've made significant progress in moving our buildings to a wireless environment and the construction project is moving us farther along," Wise said. "By the end of the project, all of our buildings will be capable of supporting a wireless environment. We're already there at the high school, intermediate and middle school buildings."

Beginning next school year, students will able to bring and use their own Internet-ready devices to school, he said.

South-Western will be "going Google" this year, so that students will have "anywhere, anytime access" to class material and homework assignments "on a platform that feels comfortable and familiar," Wise said.

The district also will be looking to enhance its curriculum offerings.

At the high school level, the district plans to add a second dual-enrollment class in chemistry, Wise said.

Dual enrollment courses allow a student to earn both high school and college credit in the subject area.

The district also will expand its remediation and intervention program to include language arts, Wise said.

The program helps ensure students maintain on-grade level performance.

This year, South-Western will continue to explore the potential of adding all-day kindergarten classes, Wise said.

"Our goal for 2014 is to continue to work through the logistics so we have the best possibility of offering all-day kindergarten beginning in the 2015-16 school year," he said. "We can't say with 100 percent certainty that we can make it happen by then, but that's our goal."

Over the last 18 months "there's been a significant amount of legislation passed by the state" relating to education, including new evaluation systems for teachers and principals, the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee and new learning standards, Wise said.

"We've done what we need to do to comply with the laws," he said. "Now we need to move from compliance to improvement."

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