Groveport Madison school district officials stressed the positive during the annual State of the Schools presentation March 5, pointing to progress in several areas and solid finances made possible by passage of Issue 7 in November.

However, Superintendent Garilee Ogden also said the most important issue facing the district continues to be overcrowding.

"We are over capacity by more than 500 students districtwide," she said, noting that a total of 22 modular classrooms are in use to accommodate enrollment.

"Maintenance costs are eating more and more of our operational budget," she said. "We have three of our buildings that were built in the '70s with open concepts, so without walls, which significantly impacts our ability to secure the school in an emergency situation."

According to Groveport Madison communications director Jeff Warner, officials plan to reach out to residents for opinions on the district's best course of action to address overcrowding.

"We're currently preparing a survey to send out to our community members," Warner said. "We want to understand where they're at and how much they might be willing to help."

New treasurer Felicia Drummey, who took over for John Walsh on Feb. 6, told the audience at the high school auditorium for the March 5 event that voter approval of an operating levy would generate more than $5 million annually for the next five years, which puts the district in sound financial shape.

"I want to thank you for your support in passing the levy in November," she told the audience. "With the renewal of that five-year levy, we should have sustained operations through 2024."

What's more, according to Drummey, Groveport Madison's tax millage rate is the third-lowest among public schools in the Columbus area.

"We're actually very proud that we're providing a very good value for the services we have here to promote student achievement," she said.

Academic achievements

Academically, Ogden said, Groveport Madison has been improving steadily in three of six areas on the annual state report cards issued by the Ohio Department of Education. Although its overall letter grade fell in the last year, going from a C to a D, she said, the district has displayed marked improvement as a whole since 2014. In the past five years, K-3 literacy and gap-closing grades have increased from an F to a C, and its B grade in the category of progress, which measures how students in certain academic subgroups perform relative to other students in the state, was the highest the district saw this year, she said.

Ogden said she is committed to helping Groveport Madison schools continue to improve academically.

"While we strive to improve in all areas, these are the three we've been focusing on and now we are wheeling toward the others," she said.

Ogden said the district is embracing Advanced Placement courses and its Pathways programs, with 149 Groveport Madison High School students taking 189 AP exams, thus earning college credits for the tests they pass. She said 81 high school students were enrolled in 40 different college classes at no cost to the student, and 94 students were enrolled in the district's teacher-preparation program.

Ogden said 823 students are enrolled in Groveport Madison's Pathways program, which aims to prepare them for postgraduate life with a variety of technical and career skills.

Awards and accomplishments

Ogden noted several accomplishments the district achieved in 2019: Groveport Madison Middle School South earned the state's Momentum Award, awarded to only 173 schools in Ohio; and Groveport Madison Middle School received state recognition for high progress in reading and math" a distinction given to only 72 schools in the state.

The district also launched a federally funded free breakfast program in 2019, earned the top award from the Ohio Leadership Institute for Groveport Madison High School's Model United Nations and added choral music as a course in each of its three middle schools, Ogden reported.

At the high school, she said, the cheerleading squad qualified to compete at the national level and school teams became Ohio Central Conference champions in cheerleading, football, soccer and softball. Coaches in football, softball, soccer and wrestling were named OCC Coaches of the Year.

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