Westerville News & Public Opinion

Big changes on '13 horizon for the schools

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One thing will be certain in the Westerville City School District in the coming year: Change.

From leadership to elementary programs to state standards, district leaders are preparing for many transitions in 2013.

One of the most noticeable changes will be a new superintendent.

New superintendent

Superintendent Dan Good announced in October that he will retire, effective June 30.

The Board of Education has been working with consultants from the Ohio School Boards Association to find a new district CEO.

In December, the district received 20 applications for the post, which the board quickly narrowed down to nine applicants. The board plans to interview candidates this week and make a selection in early February.

"When you have that kind of change, it always impacts the organization," said school board President Kevin Hoffman. "It's change, and you adapt to that change."

After a new leader is chosen, Good said his successor will be involved in district decision-making as much as he or she desires. Good said he will work with the next superintendent to help the transition go smoothly.

Other big changes are on the district's New Year horizon as well:

Curriculum

In 2013, students will notice a shift in the district's curriculum, as the district moves to the state's Common Core standards. The Common Core curriculum will be fully in place by the 2014-2015 school year, when the state will begin testing based on those, rather than existing, standards.

"It's a major shift in that instead of covering a multitude of topics, you're more focused," said district Chief Academic Officer Karen McClellan. "It will shift the way we're giving instruction."

The Common Core also focuses more on teaching students "21st century skills," such as collaboration, communication and in-depth thinking, McClellan said.

State report card

The state is expected to roll out a new form of district report cards, assigning districts with A through F ratings, rather than the current ratings of "Excellent With Distinction" through "Academic Emergency."

Districts across the state don't yet know what the new report cards will look like, Hoffman said, but they do know it will be a major change.

"Behind the scenes, everything I've seen suggests that it will be fundamentally different," Hoffman said. "I'm sure it will change how we look at things."

The district's elementary schools likely will be most affected by change in the coming year.

Attendance changes

The district is examining how elementary students will be assigned to schools, with attendance changes expected for the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

"After the first of the year, we'll have those conversations with the board," Good said. By spring break, Good said, the district plans to be able to let parents know how their children will be impacted by attendance changes at the elementary school level.

One certainty is that all preschoolers next year will attend at the district's Early Learning Center. Four classrooms will be added there to allow for the consolidation of the preschool program, which will provide more efficiency in preschool operations, Good said.

Goals unchanged

One thing that will remain constant, Good said, is the focus of district leadership on the district's five goals: That every student achieves educational success; that its environments are safe, nurturing and efficient; that the best staff are recruited, selected, developed and retained; that the community, parents, students and staff are engaged in education; and that financial resources are maximized to support success.

The board focuses on those goals in all of its decisions, Good said, and that has served the district well.

"I think one of the reasons we've been so successful over the last 12 years is because of our focus on the five goals," Good said.

 

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