Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Still Not Communicating

The Hilliard Northwest News gives space each week for a column titled "Superintendent's Desk." This is a powerful vehicle for Superintendent Dale McVey to convey information of importance to the Hilliard Schools community.

In his August 29, 2007 column, headlined "District is primed and ready for 2007-08 academic year," the Superintendent devoted several paragraphs to discussing the performance of the school district on the Ohio Department of Education local report cards. While Mr. McVey's discussion was factually correct, it left out a crucial detail – our overall grade. Our school district was given a designation of Continuous Improvement, the middle ranking, below Excellent and Effective, and above Academic Watch and Academic Emergency. We received this designation because there are some groups of kids – primarily recent immigrants who speak English as a second language – who are not showing adequate year-to-year progress.

Please understand me on this: I think the scoring system used by the Ohio DOE is flawed, and that the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act are not being served by this scoring system. It should be possible to create a scoring vocabulary that communicates that a district is performing very well overall, yet acknowledges that there ARE kids being left behind, and therefore is still work to be done. By the way, Larry Wolpert, our representative in the Ohio General Assembly, has introduced House Bill 27, which provides for exactly this. Why has our district leadership not gotten behind Rep. Wolpert in support of this bill? Rep. Wolpert also co-sponsored HB299, which would have allowed school districts to levy Impact Fees on new residents - a powerful growth control and funding tool - and our district leadership failed to engage the community in support then as well.

The Superintendent makes no mention of the Continuous Improvement designation in his column, what caused it, or what he thinks should be done in response. The point of this note is not to complain about our designation, or the scoring system, but rather to wonder how the Superintendent can write so many words about the ODOE scores without addressing our overall score of Continuous Improvement.

The tendency of the current district leadership is to avoid talking about bad news. The consequence is that the community is kept in the dark on important matters. The most important of these is funding, and I fear the community will be shocked when the next levy millage rate is announced (presumably after the November election) because we haven't been educated and prepared by the district leadership.

I'd like to change that. If you do too, I would very much appreciate your vote on November 6th.

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