South-Western City Schools has developed an ongoing comprehensive strategic plan that superintendent Bill Wise hopes will transform each school in the district into "a lighthouse of education."

South-Western City Schools has developed an ongoing comprehensive strategic plan that superintendent Bill Wise hopes will transform each school in the district into "a lighthouse of education."

The plan will focus on four themes beginning next school year. Wise unveiled the themes at the April 25 school board meeting and told board members in a statement accompanying the themes that, "It is expected that the entire school community will engage students and families, the private sector, community- and faith-based organizations, and institutions of higher learning to work collaboratively to support all of our children and youth in achieving academic success."

Development of a strategic plan is one of 28 recommendations from a district performance audit prepared more than a year ago by the state auditor's office at the SWCS' request.

Wise told the board that the plan, which is being created with the help of a community advisory group, will be an evolving guide for the district for many years.

"What we really are after is increased student learning," Wise told the board. "It's going to be a lot of hard work ... (and) take a total community effort."

Board president Mindy Garverick and other members were enthusiastic about the plan.

"I'm excited about what you presented," she told Wise. "I'm excited about the different opportunities."

The goals include:

Instruction created to meet the individual skills of students.

Learning opportunities through the integration of technology and other forms of communication.

Engaging the community to foster a fully integrated support system.

Prior to Wise's presentation, Sandy Nekoloff, executive director of communications for the district, gave a brief update on the performance audit.

The strategic plan, which also includes planning major financial needs and capital needs, is one of four recommendations not yet fully implemented, she said. The other three involve technology issues such as ensuring funding for a five-year replacement cycle of equipment.

The goals achieved include reducing the custodial staff by 15.5 positions, eliminating nine buses and maximizing bus routes, developing a formal bus replacement plan, developing a strategic plan for food services operations and supplementing the comprehensive annual financial report with a less-detailed financial report.

"We're aggressively pursuing these recommendations to make sure tax dollars and resources we have are used to the best of our ability," Wise told board members.

Before the meeting, Wise said he had new developments to report in negotiations with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees union. OAPSE represents about 950 classified staff, including bus drivers and food service workers.

They have been working without a contract since June 30.

He said the school board presented a proposal to OAPSE at the last negotiating session on April 11.

"At this point, it is up to them on how and when to proceed from here." Wise said.

No further talks have been set by a federal mediator assigned to the negotiations.

Two unions representing teachers and administrators previously negotiated new contracts with the district.