Facilities needs will be an important focus for the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools this year.

Superintendent Steve Barrett said a final draft of a facility plan will be presented to the board of education this month.

The district worked on developing the draft of a Master Facilities Plan in 2017 to address overcrowding and the need to update facilities, Barrett said.

The district worked with a Master Facility Planning Committee comprised of parents and community members to develop the plan.

"We have been hosting coffee discussions throughout our school district to discuss the draft of this plan and our future facility needs," Barrett said. "The involvement and feedback has been tremendously helpful."

He said the district will adjust the draft plan based on the feedback that has been received.

"The plan will take into account the growth occurring in Jefferson Township, where 206 homes and a 72-unit residential/ extended stay hotel are slated to be built in the near future," Barrett said.

Curriculum

Continuing into 2018, Barrett said, will be the district's early literacy initiative to build more systematic processes for teaching phonics and phonemic awareness, using Wilson Fundations, a nationally recognized early reading program.

"This spring we will be taking a deeper look at our Fundations pilot, which has been our focused effort to providing systematic phonics instruction as a part of our regular instruction for all kindergarten students," Barrett said.

The pilot is being used at Goshen Lane, Jefferson, and Royal Manor elementary schools.

"We are eager to review our students' progress, their ability to translate these developmental skills into reading success and begin planning for the expansion to our other elementary buildings," Barrett said.

To support students with their academic and behavioral needs, the district also will be sharing a newly developed systematic Response-to-Intervention process that will be used across the district.

This RTI initiative supports administrators and teachers in identifying student deficits and planning targeted interventions to close gaps, Barrett said.

"We are building more robust processes and creating procedures to ensure the needs of all students are met," he said.

Mentorships

The district will work to expand workforce development opportunities such as internships and mentorships for students, partnering with the city of Gahanna, Junior Achievement and local businesses, Barrett added.

"We have started and will grow a student mentorship/internship initiative on digital-device repair, where GLHS (Gahanna Lincoln High School) students help repair student digital devices," he said.

Judy Hengstebeck, the district's communications coordinator, said the district would also continue to expand its communication reach within the community.

"Our community has so much to be proud of when it comes to our students, staff and administrators," she said. "We want to give Gahanna and Jefferson Township all the information needed to celebrate and cheer right along with us."

Hengstebeck said the district has plans to broaden monthly e-newsletter subscriptions and continue to make daily contact through social media channels.

For those interested in more face-to-face communication, Barrett will continue hosting his monthly "Superintendent Coffees" at Panera Bread.

Information about the informal conversations can be found at GahannaSchools.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla