Whether it was under the old or new state report card system, the Grandview Heights City School District continued to excel in 2013.

Whether it was under the old or new state report card system, the Grandview Heights City School District continued to excel in 2013.

This standard continued even as two of Grandview's three principals left the district to take other jobs.

Here's a look back at 2013's top stories in Grandview schools.

Great grades

In late February, the Ohio Department of Education released the official numbers showing Grandview had earned an "excellent with distinction" rating on the 2011-12 state report card.

The district met all 26 of the state indicators.

It was the eighth consecutive year Grandview earned an "excellent" or "excellent with distinction" rating.

"It's always good to be in one of those categories," Superintendent Ed O'Reilly said. " 'Excellent with distinction' means our students are showing more than a year's growth over a year's time for several years."

In August, the ODE released the first report card under its new system that uses letter grades to evaluate districts' performance.

Grandview earned marks almost any student would be proud to bring home.

The district earned all A's and B's. It met all 24 state standards, earning an A grade overall, and also earned an A for its Performance Index, which measures the achievement of every student enrolled for the entire school year.

Grandview's Performance Index score of 108.2 was its highest ever and the highest this year among all central Ohio school districts.

The district earned another A in the Value Added category.

Late in the year, the Ohio Department of Education released preliminary results from the third-grade reading assessment given in October.

Ninety-four percent of Grandview's third-grade students passed the test, the highest passage rate in Franklin County.

Under the state's new Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, third-graders who have not passed the assessment after it is administered again in the spring will not be promoted to fourth grade.

Hello, goodbye

2013 was a year of transition for Grandview leadership.

Stevenson Elementary School Principal Brian Bowser resigned effective July 31 to become the South-Western City School District's executive director of elementary education.

Grandview hired Angela Ullum, assistant principal at Barrington Elementary School in Upper Arlington, as Stevenson's new principal.

Grandview Heights High School Principal Dawn Sayre also left the district to become principal at Heritage Middle School in Hilliard. Sayre had spent most of her career in the Hilliard district before coming to Grandview.

Ken Chaffin, assistant principal at McCord Middle School in Worthington, was hired as high school principal.

Sandy Kipp retired May 31 after working 35 years in the district, the last 21 as board secretary.

The school board hired former TriVillage Mentor League Executive Director Hayley Head as Kipp's replacement, with the newly created title of executive assistant to the superintendent

Grandview Heights High School band director Kie Watkins also resigned at the end of July. Justin Hennig, assistant band director for Fairborn City Schools, was named the high school's new band director.

Two school board members' names did not appear on the ballot Nov. 5 -- one not by her choice. John Kessler opted not to run for re-election, and Katie Clifford's petitions were not certified by the Franklin County Board of Elections due to her missing signature.

Along with two ballot candidates -- board President Grant Douglass and former Grandview Heights High School Principal Jesse Truett -- three write-in candidates joined the race after Clifford's candidacy was denied. The write-in candidates were former Grandview Mayor John Leutz; Stephanie Evans, owner of Stephanie Evans Photography; and Kipp.

Douglass, Truett and Evans won election.


Although long-term plans called for an operating levy in 2013, the district was able to forego a ballot measure for at least another year.

The district was able to cut its costs, especially in the areas of health insurance and gas and electric bills.

Payments in lieu of taxes from the Grandview Yard development also began to be distributed to the district.

Top teacher

At the annual staff convocation held the day before school opened for 2013-14, Edison Intermediate Middle School intervention specialist Sara (Karl) Hager was named the district's 2012-13 Teacher of the Year.

The nominations submitted for Hager described her as a positive collaborator with her colleagues who is always willing to share her expertise and knowledge with other teachers.

Edison paraprofessionals Sasha Buckingham and Linda Clark also were announced as the recipients of the Win-Win Award. The award is given each year to a classified employee.

Language learners

O'Reilly announced at the Oct. 15 school board meeting that the district plans to begin implementing a foreign-language program in the fall at Stevenson Elementary School.

A number of parents who responded to the district's parent survey last year indicated they wanted to see foreign-language lessons given to elementary students, O'Reilly said.

The details of the size and scope of the program are still to be determined.

Big donation

An anonymous $200,000 donation meant upgrades for Grandview Heights High School's industrial technology classroom over the summer.

The project was funded by a donation from a Grandview High School graduate. The renovated classroom, used by high school and middle school students, now features a 3-D printer -- a rare commodity for a school -- as well as additional robotics equipment.

Mr. Middle School

In October, the school board approved renaming the middle school portion of Edison Intermediate/Middle School as Larry Larson Middle School.

A facility-naming committee had recommended renaming the building for Larson, who worked from 1966 until his retirement in 1994 as a teacher, coach and athletic director in Grandview.

During the board meeting, O'Reilly placed a call to Larson, who lives in California, to tell him the news.

Larson's reaction: "Whoa. You sure you guys want to do this?

"I really don't know what to say about this," Larson said. "I'm very touched. Something like this, it's forever."