State of the Schools: Olentangy schools continue growth


Olentangy Superintendent Mark Raiff concluded his State of the Schools address Tuesday night by reading a student’s review of Cameron Mitchell’s Ocean Club restaurant and its Ocean Prime locations.

The review was part of teacher’s informative writing lesson and Raiff read parts of the persuasive piece (skipping over a segment about the venue’s alcohol selection).

The student who wrote the piece was in first grade, Raiff said after some Olentangy Board of Education members failed to guess the grade level.

Despite challenges with enrollment growth and state funding issues, Raiff highlighted the accomplishments that the district has made.

As of Feb. 1, the Olentangy Local School District has 20,491 students enrolled, a gain of 650 students, and employs 2,134 people. With 23 school buildings, the Olentangy Academy and a fourth high school building on the way, the district spends about $9,760 per pupil, 11 percent below the state average.

On the other hand, under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget, Olentangy’s enrollment figures are at 19,561 students.

Due to the proposal’s caps on state funding for school districts, Olentangy would lose more than $40 million in state funding and receive $582 per pupil.

Raiff said the district continues to work with lawmakers on those issues.

The district’s accomplishments include Scioto Ridge Elementary’s Blue Ribbon Award by the U.S. Department of Education and the 7th Annual AP District Honor Roll from College Board, which recognizes school for increasing access to AP courses while increasing the percentage of student earning a score of 3 or higher on AP exams.

Mark Yoho, a College Board representative from the Ohio Midwestern Regional Office, presented the award at the meeting. He said Olentangy is among about 400 schools in the United States and Canada with the same distinction.

In addition, the district has been nationally ranked among the best schools by U.S. News & World Report, the Washington Post and Newsweek.

Columbus CEO magazine recognized as a top workplace for the district in 2016. Raiff said Olentangy’s levy approved in March with 58 percent approval helped the district earn a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s in May.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a policy update that increases the cost threshold to require the school treasurer or designee to obtain competitive bids. When the board decides to build, repair, improve or demolish a school building, the treasurer or designee would obtain bids if the cost exceeds $50,000 rather than $25,000. The district may forego the bidding process depending on specific situations such as the acquisition of educational materials used in teaching.

By Brandon Klein

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Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

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