The Whitehall community soon will witness the fruits of a successful 3.41-mill combined permanent-improvements levy and bond issue approved in November by Whitehall City Schools voters.

"Now is the time to deliver on the promises," Superintendent Brian Hamler told those gathered March 4 at Whitehall-Yearling High School for Hamler's annual State of the Schools address.

Those promises include construction of a new artificial-turf football field and light stands at Whitehall-Yearling's stadium, a project that is expected to be completed by the start of the football season in August, Hamler said.

Progress also is being made on the construction of a 28,000-square-foot addition to Rosemore Middle School.

The project recently was approved by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, and the district soon will begin the selection process for an architect, Hamler said.

Timelines still are being developed, he said, but the expansion should be finished by the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Hamler also used the State of the Schools address to tout the district's recent academic accomplishments.

The College Board last year named Whitehall City Schools to its ninth annual AP District Honor Roll.

"To make the honor roll, you must increase both the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and the number of students scoring a 3 out of 5 or higher on the AP exams," Hamler said.

Whitehall was among the 373 high schools out of 29,581 in the United States and Canada to achieve the honor, according to Hamler.

Out of 1,360 high schools in Ohio, Whitehall is among 21 high schools on the list, Hamler said.

Among the 42 high schools in central Ohio, only Bexley and Upper Arlington join Whitehall, he said.

The district's Early Literacy Campus, which opened at the start of the 2017-18 school year, is showing dividends, Hamler said, as are the realigned elementary schools.

Prior to the opening of the campus, each of the district's three elementary schools housed students in grades K-5.

The Early Literacy Campus includes Kae Avenue Elementary School and the C. Ray Williams Early Childhood Center. Together, they house all the district's kindergarten and first-grade students.

Students in grades 2-5 attend either Beechwood Elementary School or Etna Road Elementary School.

"At Beechwood and Etna, we are seeing an increase in performance on both the state and local assessments," Hamler said. "At the kindergarten and first-grade level, we do not take state assessments, but we do have local assessments that indicate our children are making great strides."

Turning to finances, Hamler said Ohio's current cap on state funding robs Whitehall schools of about $9.3 million annually.

Hamler said he and Treasurer Steve McAfee have continued to work with state legislators to develop a new funding model that would phase out the funding cap.

Hamler also showcased a new program at Whitehall-Yearling: Hope Squads, a school-based, peer-to-peer suicide-prevention program.

School board President Mike Adkins said he is pleased with Hamler's vision and the district's successes.

"We are going in the right direction," Adkins said. "Since the opening of the literacy campus, we have made great strides, and I am happy to be a part of it."

State of the City

Improvements at each of Whitehall's five city parks and its effort to combat opiate overdoses are among the accomplishments Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard is expected to tout during the 2019 State of the City address.

Maggard will deliver the address at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at the Wasserstrom Co., 4500 E. Broad St.

The address also will include discussion of the police department's A Safer Whitehall program; the city's program to combat drug overdoses, Help for Overdoses; and the city's drug court, said Kaitlin King, community affairs manager for the city.

"I will be communicating the opportunities that are being made available to all residents," said Maggard, who will run unopposed in November for a third term as mayor, barring the candidacy of a write-in candidate.

She said those opportunities include a new Friends of the Parks program, planning for the city's dog park to be built next year, safety enhancement programs for residents and business owners, and continued collaboration with the school district.

Various department directors also will speak during the event about goals and missions within their respective departments, Maggard said.