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Springfield school district reporting positive future

10/18/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

The Springfield Local School District is continuing to track good news.

At the Oct. 16 Springfield Schools Board of Education meeting, administrative officials presented positive information on the district’s academic progress and its finances.

Superintendent Bill Stauffer announced that for the fourth time out of five years, the Springfield district has been rated “Excellent” on the Ohio Department of Education Report Card.

“We met 18 out of 26 indicators, which is two more than last year, and we were really close on four others,” said Stauffer.

He also reported on changes in the district this year and said a part-time guidance counselor at Roosevelt and Young elementary schools has been reinstated, as well as an art teacher at the elementary level. The district is also “on the cutting edge” in the use of technology in the classrooms, he added.

“We have worked hard to get teachers involved and using it,” said Technology Coordinator Dustin Boswell. “Other districts are just now talking about doing things we started three of four years ago.”

Also new to the district is a program that makes online learning available in the high school as an alternative to students who are falling behind or at-risk for failing to graduate.

Steve Shaffer, the teacher administering the program, told the board that most districts have traditionally been fighting these kinds of online learning programs, which have been viewed as “the enemy,” but he said they are here to stay, and offering the program at the school keeps the students in the district, along with the funding. He said it helps the students earn a Springfield High School diploma and graduate.

“We have taken the lead in the county in offering this kind of program in our own schools,” said Shaffer. “The primary focus has been on credit recovery to help students catch up so that they can graduate with their class.”

Shaffer said there are 34 students currently in the program. He also said he sees the online learning program developing into a “blended” program, where students can take some classes online and some in the classroom. The program also would give students an opportunity to take classes currently not offered in the district.

Other district officials supported the online learning program.

“This is a rigorous program, and it is great for our kids,” said Stauffer.

Treasurer Chris Adams said the program also helps the district financially, as it generally loses about $700,000 annually in revenue to charter or online schools when students leave for those programs.

Adams also presented information on the district’s five-year forecast at the meeting.

“We are in better shape now than we were last year, and we are good through 2016,” said Adams.

The forecast shows total revenue for 2012-13 is expected to be $25.1 million, and total expenditures for the same period is $24.6 million. The forecast also shows the district will have a cash balance of $7.5 million for the year, but that number is expected to go into a negative number in 2017.

“We are spending less than we did six years ago, when we were in fiscal emergency,” added Adams. “We are No. 5 of 17 school districts in the county in per-pupil spending [the higher the placement on the list, the lower the expenditure]. This is why we are out of fiscal emergency, and we are never going back.”

The board approved the five-year forecast at the meeting.

In other business, the board also approved:

• A.L.I.C.E Training for the district, to be presented by Springfield Police Department Officer Jim McKnight. A.L.I.C.E., a crisis-training program that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Information, Counter and Evacuation, was created by two Texas law enforcement officers soon after the Columbine High School shootings occurred in Colorado. It asks participants to think about what they would do in crisis situations involving a shooter and encourages counter measures under certain conditions; and

• a donation of $400 for the purchase of an iPad from the Civitan Club for Shannon Holtz’s class at Roosevelt Elementary School.

Stauffer also announced inscribed memorial bricks will be available for $20 during the Springfield Women’s Club’s 31st annual Autumn Arts and Craft Sale Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the high school, 2966 Sanitarium Road. The club offers scholarships to graduating high school seniors.

The next board meeting will take place Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Administration Building, 2960 Sanitarium Road.

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