About 130 Westerville City School District residents will continue to provide their input for the district's strategic-plan update, during two small-group meetings scheduled April 19 and 20.

One goal is to create an opportunity for community members to tell the district where it stands, how it's doing and where it's going, said Superintendent John Kellogg, during a related April 4 large-group meeting.

The district wants to make sure its strategic plan is still aligned with the community's expectations, he said.

"We want to hear your voice and have that two-way communication and develop a shared understanding," he said.

Kellogg said the expectations are to listen, ask questions to clarify and to use gathered information carefully to develop priorities, goals and strategies for the future.

He said the community wants the district to be honest, to present data and to be transparent.

"There will be opportunities for you to present your points of view, but in an environment where you can be safe and secure in what you say and how you say it," he said.

District resident Bob Gibson, who participated in 2013 strategic-plan stakeholder meetings, said he and his wife, Judy, have been active in the schools.

Their three children have already graduated from Westerville schools and college.

"We're here to support the community," he said. "We really want the voice to be heard. I think this is an effective method."

Six objectives

As part of the large-group session, Kellogg highlighted the district's six performance objectives:

* Every student achieves academic success.

* Learning and working environments are safe, nurturing and efficient.

* Student learning is driven by recruiting, developing and retaining highly effective and skilled staff members.

* Community, parents, students and staff are engaged as partners.

* Financial resources are aligned to support student success.

* Resources are provided to support student development.

"Those were the major themes from last time," Kellogg said. "Review it, grade it and give us feedback."

Participants were asked to answer a series of 40 survey questions on laptops based on the indicators, such as how they rate progress on every student achieving academic success and if they agree that teaching students the core academic curriculum is the No. 1 priority.

Another question was agreeing or disagreeing on whether the school district has a responsibility to modify its curriculum and teaching methods to keep up with the changes in the global and digital economy.

Quality scorecard

Kellogg said a quality-profile scorecard was developed with 25 indicators and targets.

"We highlighted what we wanted to go after," he said.

Those included elementary literacy; college and career readiness; graduation rate; performance on state assessments; integration of instructional technology; and directing resources to classrooms.

"Those were six goals last year and this year," Kellogg said. "Use of technology in the classroom was a big push in 2013. We put 10,000 Chromebooks in the district in the last three years."

He said the district uses benchmarks, looking at similar districts as identified by the Ohio Department of Education, to see how it measures up. Locally, those districts include Gahanna and Hilliard.

On the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee in 2015, 99.5 percent students met the mandate compared to 99.4 percent in 2016.

"The requirement goes higher every year," Kellogg said. "We had a slight drop in graduation rate last year. We're targeting that. Not enough career tech education was a big negative from 2013."

Facilities and finances

In looking at infrastructure challenges, Kellogg said, the district is expected to add an additional 900 students over the next 10 years to its current enrollment of about 15,080.

He said the average age of the district's 23 buildings is 49 years old.

Kellogg noted the highest population of the district lives in the south end of the district where there are the fewest schools.

There are only two schools south of Interstate 270 and those are elementary schools.

After sharing some of these factors to consider, Kellogg said the district needs a long-range facility plan that everyone can understand.

He said the district is managing its resources pretty effectively.

"We had a financial ratings upgrade," Kellogg said. "The goal is not to ask taxpayers for more money."

Next steps

Only community members who participated in the large-group meetings are invited to the small-group meetings next week.

In preparation, Kellogg gave the group homework -- an online survey.

The next meetings will involve groups of 12 with a facilitator and lots of prioritizing, Kellogg said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla