DCS performance audit and what's nextPosted by Paul Craft at 6/2/2017
As many of you saw detailed in the Columbus Dispatch and/or the Delaware Gazette last week, the Ohio Auditor recently released a sobering performance audit for the Delaware City Schools. It recommended, in the absence of new revenue, a series of devastating cuts. The recommendations include eliminating dozens of teacher/staff positions, eliminating extra-curricular activities and/or implementing extremely high pay-to-play fees, closing Willis as an educational and community resource, and implementing pay freezes and major changes to our health insurance plans. Quite frankly, these cuts would fundamentally change what we would be able to do for our students and our ability to retain quality employees.
DCS currently spends $9,733 per pupil as compared to a state average of $11,162 and a central Ohio average of almost $12,000. These figures show the work we have done to control costs. The cuts recommended by the auditor would reduce that per pupil amount by another $1000 per year, putting us far behind all central Ohio districts and indeed among the poorest and lowest spending districts in the entire state.
The auditor’s findings are no surprise to the district leadership and school board. When we last passed a new-money levy six years ago, we hoped that it would last 3 or 4 years. We have stretched the time between levies to 6 years, delaying as long as possible our need to return to our voters. Our continued enrollment growth, coupled with the failure of the state legislature to fully fund their own adopted school funding formula for districts like ours, means that the time has come when we can no longer wait to return.
Over the course of the next few weeks the DCS Board of Education will take action to place an emergency levy on the November ballot. This will be a pivotal levy. Its failure would mean that we would need to consider implementing many or all of the cuts suggested by the auditor. I personally don't like to think about what those cuts would mean for our students, our staff and our community.
If you have any questions about the performance audit, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or by phone at 740-833-1100.
Winter Weather InformationPosted by Paul Craft at 12/14/2016
Winter Weather Information
This week has certainly brought winter weather to Delaware! We recognize school closings and delays can be disruptive to normal family routines and they have an obvious impact on the instructional time we have with our students. We value every minute we get to spend educating our students and believe it is important to keep them in a school routine as much as possible. That said, we are committed to making the best decision we can to ensure that our students and staff can travel to and from school safely.
In an effort to help families plan, we want to share information about the decision making process to delay or close school. Our schools utilize a team of 4-6 individuals, including the Superintendent, to travel throughout our district to assess road conditions, community sidewalks and our school parking lots. The team starts its work around 4:30 a.m. If the weather necessitates a delay or closing, we will try, whenever possible, to make the decision by 5:45 a.m., since our first buses roll out of the bus lot at 6:00 a.m., and immediately begin the notification process through our auto call system, text messaging, district social media, local television announcements and a message on the district website. The decision is even tweeted immediately from @suptcraft!
Closings - The decision to close is made when it looks like dangerous travel or weather conditions are going to persist or worsen in such a way that it does not appear that transitioning our 5,600 students and staff from home to school and back again is advisable. We are always reluctant to close our schools because of the serious impact it has on families and learning. Closings will generally be reserved for heavy snow, power/heat outages or persistent cold temperatures/windchills in the negative double digits Fahrenheit.
Delays - A delayed start allows time for the conditions of our roads, sidewalks and buildings to be improved so that we can safely transition our students and staff or for weather to improve, along with other considerations discussed below. A medium snowstorm overnight or a frigid overnight that looks to get a little better with time are examples of when we might utilize a delay. When we make a decision to delay we consider factors including the added safety of traveling in daylight, the impact of bright sunshine helping to reduce the impact of low windchills, extra time to start and warm our diesel buses to make sure they can all run their routes as close to posted times as possible, and time to prepare our facilities.
As we navigate this winter season, we appreciate the partnership with our parents to ensure our children are properly dressed for cold weather. We also encourage parents to arrange for a friend or neighbor to transport children to and from school or the bus stop when needed. We will evaluate weather conditions on a day-by-day basis to make the best decisions for the safety of all students and strive to give parents as much notice as possible.
State Report CardsPosted by Paul Craft at 3/1/2016 7:00:00 PM
Last week, the State of Ohio released the second round of data from our 2014-15 school report card, and we were certainly disappointed with our results. We do not believe these scores reflect the quality educational experiences and high levels of learning that are taking place in classrooms across the district. After 5+ years of making incredible strides and achieving at very high levels, this year’s results were unexpected especially since we did not make any big changes to our staff or instructional practices.
What did change were the tests and the method by which we elected to take those tests. We know that online testing posed some challenges for our kids that students in districts who took paper tests did not experience. That said, our entire team is dedicated to reviewing this data to continue to improve our educational offerings.
We know these results may be concerning to our parents and our community, but I ask you to consider our positive progress over the years and the experiences you have daily with your child’s teachers and not make any conclusions based solely on one year of state testing.
Our district also utilizes MAP testing (a nationally normed assessment) on a regular basis. Those results show that our students are indeed achieving at high levels and making growth. We get MAP data in real time (unlike the state report card) and continually adjust our instruction to meet every student where they are.
Our goal is and will continue to be to provide the best education for every student. We know that Delaware City Schools is graduating well-rounded students who are prepared to succeed in college or the workforce and be excellent citizens.
Thank you for your confidence in our schools. We value your partnership to provide a quality education for every student.
Paul Craft, Superintendent
Legislative Call To ActionPosted by Paul Craft at 3/25/2015Delaware City Schools is currently losing more than $7.5 million annually in state formula funding because of state funding caps. The Governor's proposed budget for the next biennium continues the caps and eliminates yet another source of funding (Tangible Personal Property (TPP) Tax Reimbursement) for Delaware City Schools. We need our constituents to reach out to our legislators now and ask them to look at Delaware's situation and make adjustments to the budget legislation to provide adequate funding for our district and other growing districts with similar situations.A personalized contact is always best. Phone calls, personal letters and personal emails have the most influence on legislators. We suggest the following as an example only:Dear XXXXX,My name is John Smith and I am (explain your relationship to the schools/community).For the last two years the Delaware City School district has lost over $7.5 million per year (or around $1400.00 per student) due to the gain caps in the state budget.Although our district is spending well below the state average per pupil and we as taxpayers are paying above the state average as measured by the district's local tax effort, the district faces large deficits in the years to come. The driver for these deficits is, quite simply, the lack of state support.I call on you as a legislative leader to ensure that HB 64 includes meaningful steps to address the impacts on districts like Delaware. I encourage you to contact the Superintendent or Treasurer to discuss the situation in Delaware and simple legislative fixes that could make a huge difference for this community and districts like it.Sincerely,John Smith
State Representative Andrew Brenner
Rep67@ohiohouse.gov or 614-644-6711
State Senator Kris Jordan
Jordan@ohiosenate.gov or 614-466-8086
614-466-3555 or Email through this form
Senate President Keith Faber
614-466-7584 or Email using this form
Cliff Rosenberger, Speaker of the House
614-466-3506 or Email using this formSupporting Documents:
Expanded Tools (and a Different Role?) for TeachersPosted by Paul Craft at 12/30/2014
Prior to winter break, I had the opportunity to teach a full day at Dempsey Middle School; five sections of Mr. Freado’s 7th grade history classes. The experience reinforced my confidence in the course we have set for the Delaware City Schools as we move to ensure that all of our students in grades 7 through 12 have mobile devices –laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. – with them during the day. This year our 7th graders at Dempsey all have Chromebooks that they keep with them throughout the school day and usually take home as well.
I taught for all or part of 17 years before going into administration. I loved being in the classroom and my day at Dempsey reminded me why: the interactions, the energy, and the challenge to motivate students with vastly different interests, backgrounds and abilities. While I was reassured by how familiar the setting felt, I was also amazed at the possibilities that exist when all of our students have a device that can access the internet and produce documents and presentations.
When I was a classroom teacher, one of the limits to how much Physics my students were going to learn was how much I myself knew and how well I could relay that information. My first year teaching AP Physics, for example, I did a poor job teaching magnetic fields theory and application, primarily because it had never really clicked for me until I tried to teach it. The limits of my knowledge cost at least a few kids a “5” on the AP exam. Now, any teacher’s understanding of a topic represents much less of a limit to student learning.
At different times during my guest teaching, I asked our 7th grade students to go on their own to look for something on the web. Entering the search terms “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” and “US Constitution Enumerated Powers” yielded around 750,000 websites. As their teacher, I know the basics of these two topics. However, thanks to our 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative, our 7th grade students have at their fingertips real time access to essentially the entire combined knowledge of the best scholars in the world on those topics, including of course Maslow’s original 1954 paper introducing his concept and images of an original copy and expert analysis on the U.S. Constitution. No longer am I, as a teacher, the sole holder of, giver of, or gateway to knowledge. Rather, my role can become much more of a coach, mentor, or facilitator.
These tools in the hands of our kids do not change many aspects of our work. Kids still don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Good time and classroom management skills continue to be essential. Effective lesson planning is the bedrock on which everything else rests. However, the tools we have to support how we build a lesson are now so much more powerful than even a few years ago. We owe it to our students to bring those tools to bear. Our graduates are going to live and work in a hyper-connected world. We can no longer afford to have non-connected classrooms and only pencil and paper instructional experiences. Our district mission statement talks about preparing our students to “…embrace the challenges of our global society.” Getting these tools into the hands of our kids and then learning to leverage them is one more important way for us to work toward accomplishing that mission.
A Tough Decision - School Closings and DelaysPosted by Paul Craft at 1/24/2014
It certainly appears that winter is here to stay! We recognize school closings and delays can be disruptive to normal family routines, and they have an obvious impact on the instructional time we have with our students. We value every minute we get to spend educating our students and believe it is important to keep them in a school routine as much as possible. We have received several questions this year about why we have or haven’t closed, why we open on a 2-hour delay when temperatures are only rising slightly (if at all) in that time frame, and more. I wanted to share some information on how we make decisions.
- Closing - The decision to close is made when it looks like dangerous travel or weather conditions are going to persist or worsen in such a way that it does not appear that transitioning our 6,000 (+) students and staff from home to school and back again is advisable. We are always reluctant to close our schools because of the serious impact it has on families and learning. Closings will generally be reserved for heavy snow, power/heat outages or persistent cold temperatures of -20 °F (windchill) or lower.
- Delays - A delayed start allows time for the conditions of our roads, sidewalks and buildings to be improved so that we can safely transition our students and staff or for weather to improve, along with other considerations discussed below. A medium snowstorm overnight or a frigid overnight that looks to get a little better with time are examples of when we might utilize a delay.
At times, including over the last couple of days, we have experienced cold spells where a delay doesn’t seem to make a substantial difference in the temperature. There are still considerations that can make a delay advisable even beyond the temperature differential. These include:
- Traveling in daylight – On a normal school day, our high school and middle school bus runs start around 6:30 a.m., well before sunrise. We believe it's safer for our student drivers, walkers and buses to be traveling when others can more easily see if a problem has occurred.
- Warming the buses – While we have a well-maintained bus fleet, the extra time to inspect and warm up the buses helps reduce the chance of mechanical problems once on the road or delayed routes that can strand students at bus stops.
- Preparing our facilities – Our custodial crews spend a considerable amount of time checking our heating and plumbing systems to ensure they are in proper working order before bringing students into the building. The extra time also allows our team to clear any drifted snow or ice from the walkways and to make sure that our staff is ready to safely welcome our students to our buildings.
As we navigate the rest of this winter season, we appreciate the partnership with our parents to ensure our children are properly dressed for cold weather. We also encourage parents to arrange for a friend or neighbor to transport children to and from school or the bus stop when needed. We will continue to evaluate weather conditions on a day-by-day basis to make the best decisions for the safety of all students.Have a question or comment? Email the Superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org
Proposed State Funding Formulas AnnouncedPosted by Paul Craft at 3/25/2011 1:00:00 PM
Delaware City Schools and other districts in Ohio received initial State Foundation projections from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). The decline in our district’s state foundation aid is less than we had originally projected. This is great news for our district. However, there are a few items to consider when analyzing the figures as released by the Governor’s office or reported in the Columbus Dispatch:
• DCS is projected to lose 4.4% ($511,276) of our state revenue when the federal stimulus funds are subtracted from the FY2012 State Foundation allocation.
• The accelerated phase out of Tangible Personal Property (TPP) Tax reimbursement is not included in the above reduction. In DCS, we are estimating a loss of approximately $800,000 for next year and an additional $800,000 reduction in each of the following three years from that accelerated phase out.
• The budget bill still needs to move through the legislative process and can be altered. The OBM used a formula that is dependent on Valuation per Pupil. This led to bigger reductions for surrounding districts where the property values are very high or student enrollment is much lower. However, legislators representing districts with the largest reductions will likely advocate for changes during the legislative process. There are other proposed formulas which are much more negative for our district. It is possible that the formula may be changed before the final budget bill is approved.
• Figures on Rollback and Homestead credits are not yet available. While we don't expect any surprises on these funds, it is still an unknown.
• Local property valuations will be released by the Delaware County Auditor in the near future. We are expecting a decline in Delaware City which will negatively impact revenue we receive on our inside millage.
Keeping the above in mind, this is still better news than expected for Delaware City Schools. We will continue to monitor the process and communicate with our legislators and community. If the cuts in state revenue are less than projected, the Board of Education will review the recommended budget reductions and focus on preserving quality educational programs for students.
Have a question or comment? Send an email to the superintendent at email@example.com
School District EfficiencyPosted by Paul Craft at 1/26/2011 10:20:00 AM
The Center for American Progress (CAP) has released a study that rates all school districts in the state of Ohio and across the nation (available at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/01/educational_productivity/report.html). The Delaware City Schools ranked near the top tier of Ohio school districts in terms of Return on Investment - essentially a measure of efficiency based on the performance of the district’s students, the background of those students, and the resources invested. Only 51 of 601 Ohio districts were rated in a higher category than the Delaware City Schools. The Delaware City Schools are committed to maximizing the growth of our students while serving as good stewards of our public tax dollars. According to this recent study, the district is doing exactly that.
Have a question or comment? Send an email to the superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org