The superintendents of several Delaware County school districts spoke to the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce Thursday during the chamber’s annual “State of the Schools” event.
At the lunch, Delaware City Schools Superintendent Paul Craft, Big Walnut Local Schools Superintendent Angie Pollock, Buckeye Valley Local Schools Superintendent Andrew Miller, Olentangy Local Schools Superintendent Mark Raiff and Delaware Area Career Center Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman gave presentations to the chamber members about the state of their districts and education in the county as a hole.
Craft opened the presentation and noted that all of six of the high schools belonging to districts located in Delaware County were recently ranked in the top 100 Ohio high schools in U.S. News and World Report’s “Best High Schools” 2016 rankings.
“You cannot get a bad education in Delaware County,” Craft said. Craft added that Delaware County’s graduation rate is 96 percent, far above the Ohio average of 83 percent.
However, Craft said state report cards were sent to schools this week and said that many local districts have gotten failing grades in some areas because of the way the state has changed the metric.
“They are in many ways a mess,” Craft said. “We let this reports inform what we do, but they aren’t what we are.”
Pollock and Miller also said they were frustrated with the state report cards and said their districts would be working to establish internal ways of judging their progress.
“Enough is enough,” Pollack said. “We are going to focus internally on what our students need.”
Pollack said Big Walnut would be aiming to personalize education and give students a creative environment where they feel at home and will learn problem solving skills.
“These kids will be doing jobs that we haven’t even thought of yet,” Pollock said regarding the need to not just teach students to “regurgitate” facts but to teach them how to think critically and problem solve.
Growth was also a theme amongst the superintendents as every district reported increased enrollment and larger class sizes.
Raiff said Olentangy grew by 511 students this past year and said the district is underway on construction of a new high school and will be redistricting in the future.
Raiff added that 43 percent of Olentangy students are gifted and said that district has the highest percentage in Ohio for gifted students.
“I’m very proud of the performance of all of our high schools,” Raiff said.
Raiff and Craft also touched on the issues with state funding that are affecting their districts.
“[The funding model] doesn’t allow our funding to grow as we get more students,” Raiff said. Raiff acknowledged that Olentangy School district is losing more than $30 million in state funding as a result of state funding caps.
Craft said because of state funding caps, Delaware City Schools has lost out on at least $7 million in funding.
Freeman said the DACC has continued to grow both at the north and south campus locations and the satellite locations at other districts.
Freeman said the DACC’s project to consolidate both campuses into one improved facility at the current south campus was on time and on budget and is projected to be completed at the state of the 2018-2019 school year.
Chamber President Holly Quaine thanked the superintendents.
“There is nothing more important to economic growth, stability and health than our school systems,” Quaine said.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.