The Licking Heights school district will receive its bond rating Aug. 4, board president Mark Loth reported during a board meeting July 28 at Licking Heights High School.

The Licking Heights school district will receive its bond rating Aug. 4, board president Mark Loth reported during a board meeting July 28 at Licking Heights High School.

Loth, Superintendent Thomas Tucker and treasurer Jennifer Vanover traveled to Chicago last week to speak with bond raters directly, in anticipation of approximately $10-million in construction bonds to be issued Sept. 14.

"The presentation took about two-and-a-half hours," Loth said. "We should get our rating next week. It played out better than I expected. They seemed excited about the businesses we had coming in and even the growth we had in the district."

Tucker said the district's growth in both enrollment and in businesses that move into the community were favorable.

"The raters were pretty impressed with the district, even in these tough economic times," Tucker said. "They are taking a stricter look now than in previous years, but nevertheless they seemed pretty impressed with where we are."

The bonds would be financed by an existing permanent-improvements levy; no additional voter-approved levies would be necessary.

In other business, Tucker reported that the district has received the preliminary academic score card from the Ohio Department of Education, noting that the district is performing well, meeting all but one or two indicators.

"We're looking at preliminary results from the state report cards," Tucker said. "This year there are 26 indicators, and we're going to meet 24 or 25 of them."

In addition to the state scorecard, the district also must meet federal "adequate yearly pro-gress" standards, defined by student population subgroups based on various factors, including race, ability and economic status. The theory of the federal law is that 100 percent of students would be proficient in reading and math by 2013.

"We still have to look at AYP," Tucker said. "Our school district is one of the most diverse in the state, as everyone knows. Under 'No Child Left Behind,' it went from 50 percent 10 years ago to 2013 every student, regardless of what AYP group he or she is in, has to be proficient, unless that's changed under new No Child Left Behind law."

Tucker also addressed all-day kindergarten, required under recent changes to state law prompted by Gov. Ted Strickland, but for which waivers have been allowed by the state.

"We have a waiver this year for all-day kindergarten," Tucker said. "Half the school districts across the state did request a waiver, due to space constraints. We have not made up our minds - the board and I and administrators - whether to request a waiver for the 2011-2012 school year. We don't know what may happen. There may be some amendment to (House Bill) 1 that may not require all-day kindergarten."

Tucker said the district also is continuing to use combined services with other county school districts to provide additional services to both special-needs and high-achieving students that the district couldn't afford on its own.

"We have to look at staffing and what gives us the greatest economy of scale," Tucker said. "We love all of our kids, but we have to look at economies of scale. As the district grows, it will be more feasible to bring those students home. But just as with all-day kindergarten, do we have the space? Right now we are almost maxed out in every building."

Tucker said Licking County is well-organized to provide combined services.

"School districts in Licking County pool their resources together," he said. "It may be less expensive and more effective for three or four school districts to form a unit, whether it's at Licking Heights or Newark or Johnstown, and have our kids come to that unit to be educated by top-notch people. Comparing the costs of going outside the Licking County Educational Service Center, looking at Franklin County ESC, we got the most bang for our buck right here in Licking County. If it normally costs $100,000 for salary and benefits for a teacher, now you have three or four school districts paying the salary and benefits of the teacher, as opposed to one school district paying it."