Centerville City Schools Superintendent Tom Henderson presented his fourth annual State of the District address Wednesday evening, discussing how passage of the recent school levy and other initiatives will shape the district moving forward.
The Ohio Department of Education released 2018-19 report cards for school districts in September. The district was one of several locally that earned an overall “B” grades. Beavercreek, Kettering, Lebanon, Springboro and several smaller districts were on that list.
Henderson touched on some of the district’s initiatives — such as community partnerships, career education, diversity, equity and inclusion — during his address, while also stating that the district will look to address the need to hire more minority teachers.
“We have great partnerships,” he said, noting that the advanced manufacturing and pre-internship apprentice programs with Sinclair have gone well, adding that the University of Dayton “supports our efforts as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Central State and Wright State universities also are key partners in education with the district, Henderson said. A large part of dealing with diversity, equity and inclusion in the district has been a $25,000 Equal Opportunity Schools grant.
“The goal of EOS is to increase the number of minority and under-resourced candidates taking advanced placement courses,” Henderson shared. “We know that there are a lot of diverse students out there that think they cannot or shouldn’t take AP courses. With this grant we are working with EOS to promote the opportunity for all students to take AP courses.”
Henderson discussed the 6.9-mill November 2019 levy request and what those additional funds will go toward.
Most of the levy will handle day-to-day school operating costs (5.9 mills), while the last 1 mill is “permanent improvement” funding for building renovations and long-term assets such as buses and technology.
The levy will cost a homeowner $241.50 annually per $100,000 of appraised property value. It is a permanent levy, rather than a five-year tax that comes up for renewal.
“We learned from the surveys and the focus groups that it was very important to our community to make sure our building were kept up appropriately,” Henderson said, regarding what the district learned during the levy campaign. “We did hear that our community felt that there is money and resources to make sure our building are kept up.”
In response to the successful levy, the district has already started some technology improvements, according to Henderson. That includes the purchase of an additional 1,400 Chromebook devices that will be deployed to classrooms throughout the district by the end of this month.
“When combined with the existing 5,500 devices, we will be heading towards ratios that match classroom enrollment,” he said. “These devices, purchased at an exceptional value, have proven to be an incredible investment lasting six years.”
Several residents attending the public meeting asked about some key issues they were hoping the district would address in the upcoming months.
“What is the district looking at doing to address some of the large class sizes?” was one question.
Henderson said the district is continuing to study the issue and will possibly look at doing some redistricting to alleviate the problem as enrollment continues to grow.
“We are not quite ready to do this yet and need to continue to get more data,” he said. “Our enrollment is growing and we certainly need to make sure we have room for all of our students.”
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