Dayton to close a school, shake up teaching staff, open health center

World of Wonder elementary will be closed; health center will open at Boys Prep school on West Third.

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.

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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 at least two schools, aiming to improve academics, and shift to new principals at six elementary schools this fall.

Last year, near the same time 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.

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.

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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 elementary schools, three middle schools and six high schools.

Dayton teachers union President David Romick also confirmed that Louise Troy and Fairview elementary schools will have their teaching staffs “reconstituted.”

Romick said that means those employees will be “displaced” from their current roles under the terms of the union contract. They will have the right to either re-apply for a job in the same school or select another open position in the district. Romick said no teacher becomes unemployed as a result of either the reconstituting, or the merging of schools.

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Lolli said the expectation for teachers in Louise Troy and Fairview is 95 percent teacher attendance, and that 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 75% 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 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.”

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.

Health center details

District officials said students will be eligible for health center services regardless of health insurance or ability to pay. Dr. Mamle Anim, chief medical officer at Five Rivers Health Centers, said her group has been hoping to expand into schools as part of its mission to provide high-quality, affordable service. As a federally qualified health center, they have grant funds to serve uninsured patients.

Anim said the health center at Roosevelt will open “as close as possible” to the start of the school year in August. The center will feature three medical exam rooms staffed at least by a nurse practitioner, dental and vision services, plus counseling/mental health services.

School board vice president Jocelyn Rhynard said lack of access to health care has hindered many DPS students’ academics. She said progress on this front could reduce chronic absenteeism problems.

Lolli said she believes the health center will definitely help DPS’ academics, but she hopes the district can eventually have more than one school-based health center, to create a bigger impact.

Anim said plans are still in progress, but the center likely will serve students during the school day, and will offer services to families after school is over.

Lolli said when nurses at other DPS schools identify students for services at the health center, the school district will provide transportation from their school to the center. She said there is not a firm cost yet for the health center, but DPS is providing the space rent-free, and the groups are collaborating on renovations.

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