Highlighting Reynoldsburg City Schools' academy structure is the goal behind a new YouTube video that Superintendent Melvin Brown said is designed to engage more members of the community.

"We felt there was a disconnect between the understanding of the academy structure among people that are not in the high schools," he said. "Not everyone reads every column or article, so we wanted to do something a little more engaging.

"We wanted to provide a consistent message on the goals of our high school structure and help parents understand the components of our separate academies."

A link to the video is on the district website at reyn.org and is posted on YouTube.

It is also available at ThisWeekNews.com.

Both Brown and school board President Joe Begeny appear in the video to explain the goal of each of the district's four high school academies:

* BELL for students interested in business, education, leadership or law careers

* (HS)2 STEM for health science and human services

* Encore for classes in art, communication and design

* eSTEM, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math

Begeny said a second video is planned about a change coming next year in the academy structure, when all ninth-graders will attend a "freshman experience" before choosing a high school academy.

"I think the more we can explain what our high school structure is all about, the better people will understand it," he said. "It is not as rigid as perceived in the past -- kids can mix and match a little bit and we are not trying to pigeonhole kids into a career in junior high."

Begeny said the second video would explain how all freshmen will attend classes together on the Livingston Avenue campus, where they will be able to get a taste of each academy.

"It will give kids an opportunity to experience what the academies are like without having to commit to an academy," he said.

Brown said administrators will work on the freshman experience details this school year, so it can be implemented for the 2019-20 school year.

For the past two school years, more than 70 percent of district eighth-graders put in requests to attend the Summit Road campus, which houses eSTEM and Encore academies. Granting all those requests would make that campus too crowded, while BELL and (HS)2 STEM Academies on the Livingston Avenue campus have excess space for students.

Requiring all freshmen to attend classes together for core subjects would help the district meet the academic, social and emotional needs typical for ninth-graders, Brown said.

"College- and career-readiness is good, but let's get them successful in high school first," he said.

Brown said administrators and community members also are working on a five-year strategic plan that would be "a roadmap for how we do business."

Brown said the strategic plan would include goals and action steps concerning student learning, student experiences, communication and finance.

"We expect to have a committee for each of those four themes, to come up with the goals and action steps," he said.

"We hope to have the strategic plan finished, published and implemented by or before December."