Westerville City School District leaders will strive to create "high-quality educational experiences for all students" in 2017, according to Superintendent John Kellogg.

Westerville City School District leaders will strive to create "high-quality educational experiences for all students" in 2017, according to Superintendent John Kellogg.

Kellogg, board President Richard Bird and board member Nancy Nestor-Baker all took a look at the year ahead and made wish lists for success.

"I want to ensure that we are making the best use of the resources we have," Kellogg said. "The community's support of the substitute levy in November means we maintain the revenue we need to continue our improvement efforts.

"We also have a deep pool of talented teachers, staff and administrators who are committed to working with the community," he said.

Community partnerships are key to success, Kellogg said.

"Our partnerships with the government entities we serve, the Chamber of Commerce, Columbus State and Otterbein; organizations like WARM, Head Start and Concord Counseling; and local service groups like Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Club serve as a critical link to that challenge," he said. "We are committed to building on those partnerships."

Impact of state moves

Keeping up with state and legislative changes in 2017 would be a significant challenge, however, Bird said.

He said the district must deal with the uncertainty and "volatility" of school funding, graduation requirements and other changes.

"My hope is for bold leadership from the governor (Gov. John Kasich) in the supporting and strengthening of traditional public education across the state," Bird said.

School administrators would continue to work with state representatives, Kellogg said.

"As Ohio develops its ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) plan and we work to improve the public education system through the development of clear goals, appropriate and clear measures of performance and an effective system of accountability, I am optimistic that students and families will benefit from the outcomes," he said.

He said the district must work on its mission statement: "Our mission is to prepare students to contribute to the competitive and changing world in which we live."

When unexpected challenges arise, district leaders need to step forward.

"We need to continue to be a school community that supports people when times are challenging or when life adds burdens that are difficult to manage alone," Kellogg said. "We are a strong and unified school community and that is one of our greatest strengths."

Areas of focus

As the year unfolds, the district will focus on 21st Century Learning and Teaching models, including pathways and programs in engineering, health and business that provide students with opportunities for college credit or industry credentials.

"Our enrollment in these programs continues to expand, and we have targeted additional programs for the coming year," Kellogg said.

Last year, the district put more technology devices in classrooms, along with expanding access to digital tools such as Google for Education, designed to facilitate learning anywhere and on many devices, and Schoology, a learning management system.

Kellogg said recent renovation at Pointview Elementary School and the creation of the Center for Inspiration at Walnut Springs Middle School, plus the mobile Fab Lab, all reflect changes in design that support the kind of teaching and learning necessary for today's world.

Bird looked back at a major achievement, the cancellation of the Win/Win agreement with Columbus City Schools.

"The cancellation of that agreement will have the biggest long-term positive effect on the district," he said.

Community inclusion is also on his mind.

"The addition of programs and facilities such as the Westerville North Fab Lab and the Pointview Elementary expansion and expanding our partnership with the city of Westerville and Otterbein will be key areas of focus in 2017," he said.

Nestor-Baker said she is "optimistic about where we are going as a district."

"Thanks to the citizens of the district, the school system is in a stable financial situation that lets us continue our forward momentum," she said.

She also was excited about the Center for Inspiration, Fab Lab and the redesign of Pointview.

"These are all successes, but there is much work yet to be done," she said. "In the coming year, we will be thinking strategically about ways our educational programs and facilities can best meet the needs of students, staff and community."

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