Dayton to close one school, shake up teaching staff at others

Dayton Public Schools plans to close its World of Wonder elementary school this summer, merging it into the Dayton Boys Prep campus on West Third Street and renaming that school Roosevelt.

The news is part of a flurry of moves this week, confirmed Friday by Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli.

RELATED: Dayton schools to launch fire/EMS career program

DPS, in cooperation with Five Rivers Health Centers, will open its first school-based health facility for all DPS students at that Boys Prep/Roosevelt site. The district also plans to significantly reshape the teaching staffs of two other schools, aiming to improve academics, and shift to new principals at six elementary schools this fall.

Last year, near the same time that DPS’ old Valerie Elementary building was closed, both World of Wonder and Boys Prep had been identified among the district’s lowest-enrolled schools. World of Wonder, also referred to as WoW at Residence Park, sits on Oakridge Drive near Gettysburg and Hoover, two miles west of Boys Prep.

Lolli met more than a year ago with parents of both schools. She said last spring that those school and parent communities would be given a chance to recruit and build up enrollment numbers, but added that closure was a possibility if enrollment didn’t grow.

Enrollment data shared by the school district Friday showed that World of Wonder’s enrollment has grown from 312 in December 2017 to 406 this week, while Boys Prep’s enrollment dropped from 217 to 174 in that span. Lolli informed parents of the schools’ merger in meetings earlier this week.

RELATED: DPS headquarters move delayed, could cost $3 million-plus

Asked whether any other DPS schools could close this fall, given previous comments about small high school enrollments, Lolli said there are no plans for any other closures for 2019-20, but that the district will continue to monitor enrollment numbers.

World of Wonder and Boys Prep received very similar grades on the state report card last year — both getting overall D’s, with grades of “F” for achievement and “B” for progress. In May 2016, World of Wonder was the site of a horrific playground stabbing of a second-grade girl during school hours — a crime that remains unsolved.

The closure would leave DPS with 16 active elementary schools, three middle schools and six high schools. Lolli said the school district is in talks with city government about options for the World of Wonder building.

Dayton teachers union President David Romick also confirmed that Louise Troy and Fairview elementary schools will have their teaching staffs “reconstituted.” Teachers at World of Wonder and Boys Prep will go through the same process.

Romick said that means teachers will have the right to reapply for their existing jobs in those schools. Anyone who is not hired there will go on a “displaced” list and be able to choose from open positions in the district.

HISTORY: How did DPS get to this point on underused buildings?

“Between existing openings, retirements, resignations and other turnover, we do not anticipate any need for (layoffs) at the end of the process,” he said.

Lolli said the expectation for teachers in Louise Troy and Fairview is 95 percent teacher attendance, and that those teachers’ student test scores go up from fall to spring.

“We’re hoping we’ll get those committed teachers who will show up to work and teach every day, all day, to go to those buildings,” Lolli said.

She said the incentive will be, any teacher at Louise Troy or Fairview whose students’ scores show three-quarters of a year’s growth between August and December will get a $2,500 bonus, with the chance for another $2,500 bonus if they show that same growth again in the spring.

“That’s a reasonable amount of growth on our MAP (diagnostic) tests,” Lolli said. “The whole purpose is closing the achievement gap.”

RELATED: State leaders rip school takeover law

Romick said the teachers union has no opposition to the bonus plan, because there is no required punishment for teachers who don’t meet that standard.

“Student attendance is a factor, strict adherence to the curriculum, using high-yield teaching strategies – all those things go into that,” Romick said. “The district and the curriculum department maintain that it’s achievable, but not easy. “

An email to district staff on Thursday indicated that World of Wonder Principal LaDawn Mims will become principal of Cleveland elementary this fall. Lolli said current Boys Prep Principal Therman Sampson will be the principal of Roosevelt.

Other new principals include current HR director Judy Spurlock taking over at Eastmont and longtime DPS administrator Alex Robertson at Kiser. Akisha Shehee will lead Louise Troy, Celeste Hoerner will be principal at Rosa Parks and Shelly Murphy will lead Westwood.

About the Author