Middletown school leader talks state report card with business leaders

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 4:10 PM
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 6:00 PM


            Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles, Jr. speaks to local community and business leaders about state report card scores and strategic plans for the district during a luncheon hosted by the school district Friday, Sept. 22, in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles, Jr. speaks to local community and business leaders about state report card scores and strategic plans for the district during a luncheon hosted by the school district Friday, Sept. 22, in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

While last week’s state report card on Middletown Schools left some in the district disappointed, the school system is making significant progress in some areas, Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. told business and community leaders.

The quarterly community outreach forum was the first for Styles and is part of his proactive campaign to engage the Butler County city’s various segments as stakeholders in improving local schools.

Styles, who started in August, told the invited audience of more than 60 at the school system’s downtown office, “we want you at the table” as the district reforms toward improvement.

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MORE: School report cards: Here’s how Butler County districts performed

“If you are willing to sit in on the game, then please know the door will always be open,” he told the audience after a presentation highlighting some of the better parts of the district’s latest state report card.

Weaving closer ties with the city’s business community is a critical part of any improvement in the city schools, said Styles, who described it as a “big stitch in our fabric.”

“It’s something we really want to just not talk about it, but also invest in as well,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Education’s annual report card on the state’s 609 public school systems — based on the 2016-2017 school year student testing — showed Middletown earning three Fs, a D, C and B.

MORE: Middletown school leader wins national award

Styles hour-long presentation, which included taking questions from the audience, highlighted some areas of improvement behind the major category grades.

The district’s four-year graduation rate improved from a C to a B, and since earning a 78.6 percent rate in 2012, improved to a 90 percent last year.

“That is huge and the (student) data indicates the investment we are making as a community is paying off,” said Styles, who previously was a top district official with the Lakota School system.

MORE: Top 5 things to know about state report cards

He also pointed to the district’s kindergarten through 3rd grade literacy rate improvement from a D to C grade as another area of progress to build on and a source of optimism for the future of the 6,400-student school system. Moreover, the state measurement of “performance index” improved from 67.4 to 71.4 percent in the last school year.

Rick Pearce, president of the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton, said Styles was impressive and his message persuasive.

“This was Marlon’s opportunity to share with us and the community what the test scores are but also … show we’re improving in these other areas as we dive deep down into it (report card),” said Pearce.

MORE: 5 questions with Middletown’s new school leader

Pearce said his group will now try to get the business community involved in the local schools “to see how we can be part of that solution.”

Marc Bellisario, president and CEO of Primary Health Solutions, said “it was great meeting and important to reach out to the community and let everyone know what is going on.”

“The new superintendent is really trying to get the word out and I was very impressed because there are a lot of good things happening for Middletown schools,” said Bellisario.

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Springboro school board split on superintendent contract extension

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 3:19 PM


            Springboro Superintendent Dan Schroer has a new three-year contract.
Springboro Superintendent Dan Schroer has a new three-year contract.

The Springboro Board of Education split over whether to grant a new contract to Superintendent Dan Schroer a year before his current one was to expire.

The board approved a three-year contract with Schroer and a five-year contract with Treasurer Terrah Floyd during Tuesday’s board meeting.

The board approved the new contracts after terminating existing contracts with the two administrators.

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The board voted 5-0 for the termination and new contract for Floyd. The vote in Schroer’s case was 4-1, with Lisa Babb casting the vote against.

Dave Stuckey, Charles Anderson, Jamie Belanger, Dan Gudz voted for Schroer’s new contract.

Schroer is to be paid $147,084 per year for three years.Floyd is to be paid $120,235 per year for five years. Both contracts allow for the board to raise the salaries.

RELATED: Springboro hires new superintendent

“The only change is to end the current contract and enter into another five-year contract that would expire in July of 2023. All other aspects of the current contract remain in place, and no monetary changes were made,” Floyd said in an email asking about her contract.

The salaries in the contracts indicate no raises from pay rates set in August 2017, school officials said.

Before this, Schroer was paid $142,800 a year and Floyd was paid $116,733, according to a database maintained by this news organization of public salaries in the region.

Schroer’s contract was to expire on July 31, 2019. Floyd said hers was to expire in January 2020.

Resolutions terminating both existing contracts said the action “will be highly beneficial to the District by maintaining continuity of personnel and allowing the District to continue to benefit from the extensive knowledge, experience, and leadership abilities.”

Schroer said he was not being considered by other districts and indicated contracts are commonly extended by the board before the current term has run.

RELATED: Springboro hires new treasurer

Like Schroer, Floyd indicated her new contract was not in response to her looking or being courted by another school district.

“No, I am very happy here at Springboro!” she said in an email.

At Tuesday’s meeting, board members Belanger and Anderson complimented Floyd on her performance.

Babb read a statement explaining she voted against Schroer’s contract because there have been no strategic goals set for the district and no performance review had been completed for superintendent.

“There has been a pattern of spending over the last two years that has been concerning,” Babb said.

For example, she questioned spending of more than $1 million on a modular classroom for Clearcreek Elementary School when there were other options.

In addition, Babb criticized the “lack of transparency in communications” and said the board was briefed on contract negotiations with teachers and staff only a day before they went to mediation.

Gudz complimented both Floyd and Schroer on their leadership and commitment and noted successes achieved since Schroer joined the district.

Belanger noted a staff satisfaction survey supporting Schroer and the administration, while Stuckey, a former teacher, noted Schroer’s relationships with teachers.

Anderson complimented Schroer on relationships he has forged in the community and between the district and local police.

“I have no hesitation in extending both these contracts,” Anderson said.

On Thursday, Schroer, who came to the district two years ago from the Margaretta Local School District in Erie County, said by email, “I am very encouraged of the many positive comments expressed by the other four Board Members at the Board Meeting.”

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This local district is in the final stages of a $72M school building project. Here’s what’s new.

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 2:30 PM


            Lebanon City Schools is winding up a $72 million building program by tearing down part of the former junior high school. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
            Lawrence Budd
Lebanon City Schools is winding up a $72 million building program by tearing down part of the former junior high school. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD(Lawrence Budd)

Lebanon is in the final stages of a multi-year, $72 million school building project.

Work will be done when the old elementary, where the school district offices are located, is demolished. The district offices will be moved to a renovated section of another old school, formerly the high school and then Lebanon Junior High, on Miller Road.

“The project this community supported should last for many, many years. I think it’s a testament to what the community thinks about its schools,” Superintendent Todd Yohey said.

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RELATED: Construction begins on $27 million junior high

To get it all done, the district expects to spend more than $1 million not included in the building project funding in expectation of saving on $4 million in repairs otherwise needed on the former Holbrook Elementary School, where the district offices and board meeting room are located.

“From a financial standpoint, it just makes more sense,” Yohey said.

RELATED: Firm chosen in 2009 to explore Lebanon school construction needs

On Tuesday, Lebanon planners signed off on the renovation and demolition, clearing the way for the district offices to move into part of the building that has served as the district’s high and junior school.

The eastern part is to be demolished, with the rest left for the offices. The move is anticipated next summer or fall. The district’s auditorium and main gym will also remain there.

MORE: Lebanon boy to apologize, do 25 hours community service for school threat

“The project consists of renovating the existing school to be the new Board of Education office for the Lebanon City Schools. A new parking lot is envisioned for the north and south of the proposed office. The east part of the school will be demolished,” according to an application by the Kleingers Group to Lebanon Planning Commission.

With state and local funds, the district built a new $27 million junior high, just north of its predecessor.

The building at 160 Miller Rd. was built as a high school in the mid-1960s, replacing what was the previous high school and is now Berry Middle School, further south on Broadway.

MORE: Waynesville schools going forward with $26 million community development

Berry was also renovated as part of the district’s $72 million construction plan funded through state funds and local levies.

District voters approved a 1.87-mill levy to finance $56.8 million in local costs, including $27.4 million in principal and $29.4 million in interest.

Local voters also approved a 0.5-mill levy to fund continued maintenance required by the state to qualify for the funding. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission is to contribute $45.1 million.

On Wednesday, Yohey said demolition of the eastern part of the Miller Road building was being postponed for more evaluation of asbestos remediation. Bids had pegged this project at $628,721 from state and local funds.

MORE: New schools in 2 districts exceed capacity

The former Holbrook Elementary, where the board offices have been located in a neighborhood off Columbus Avenue, is to be demolished and kept “as green space,” Yohey said.

The district has no plans to sell the land and “the future use is a crystal ball,” he added.

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Springboro school board awards new superintendent, treasurer contracts

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 5:01 PM


            The Springboro Board of Education is expected to approve the new contracts after terminating existing contracts with Treasurer Terrah Floyd and Daniel Schroer.
The Springboro Board of Education is expected to approve the new contracts after terminating existing contracts with Treasurer Terrah Floyd and Daniel Schroer.

The Springboro Board of Education is scheduled to meet tonight to approve a three-year contract with the district’s superintendent and a five-year contract with the treasurer.

The board is expected to approve the new contracts after terminating existing contracts with Superintendent Daniel Schroer and Treasurer Terrah Floyd.

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“The only change is to end the current contract and enter into another five-year contract that would expire in July of 2023. All other aspects of the current contract remain in place, and no monetary changes were made,” Floyd said in an email.

Schroer is to be paid $147,084 per year for three years.

Floyd is to be paid $120,235 per year for five years.

RELATED: Springboro hires new superintendent

Resolutions terminating both existing contracts said the action “will be highly beneficial to the District by maintaining continuity of personnel and allowing the District to continue to benefit from the extensive knowledge, experience, and leadership abilities.”

Schroer’s contract was to expire on July 31, 2019, and Floyd said hers was to expire in 2020.

RELATED: Springboro hires new treasurer

The board meets at 6 p.m. in the high school library.

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Dayton Public Schools approves $475K improvement program for 5 schools

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 3:06 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 7:35 PM


            Lynsa Davies
Lynsa Davies

UPDATE @ 7:30 p.m.:

The Dayton Public Schools Board of Education approved a $475,000 contract with Partnership for Leaders in Education to develop and implement improvement plans at five DPS schools over the next five years.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the specific schools that were chosen represent a cross-section of the district. She said the program is less about turning around low-performing schools, but about making sure it is effective at a variety of schools before considering expansion.

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She said the program will be funded with federal grant money aimed at things like school improvement programs.

The school district’s contract proposal from Partnership for Leaders in Education, a program out of the University of Virginia, claims success at other districts.

“The (program) is the only research-proven effort in the country focused on establishing system conditions ripe for change and building transformative leadership capacity to achieve that change,” the proposal says. “With the partnership now in its 15th year, most of our partner schools outgain state averages, almost 50 percent of our partner schools have experienced double-digit proficiency gains within two years and 20 percent of those schools achieve over 25-point gains within three years.”

If successful at the initial five schools, the district intends to expand the program to other schools.

“The idea is to transform the district and not just a select number of schools. You think big, you start small, you scale fast,” said Lynsa Davie, DPS chief of schools special project.

Davie said the program was instrumental at helping her turn around Chase Elementary School in Cincinnati, where she worked before coming to DPS. She said it helped them lift it out of academic emergency.

Chase Elementary’s performance index score on state report cards is higher than Dayton’s district average, and higher than most DPS elementary schools.

Lolli said the program was chosen because it had some documented success at several Cincinnati schools.

FIRST REPORT:

The Dayton Public Schools Board of Education is scheduled to vote today, July 17, on whether to spend $475,000 on a “turnaround program” for five school buildings deemed by the district as under-performing.

The project will contract with Partnership for Leaders in Education, a program based at the University of Virginia. It would spend the 2018-2019 school year assessing and designing a plan to improve the schools’ performance, and the following two years rolling out that plan.

THE PATH FORWARD: The region must rally to fix the Dayton Public Schools

“I can tell you I come knowing that it does work,” said Lynsa Davie, who was hired this summer as DPS’ chief of school special projects from the Cincinnati city school district. She said the program helped skyrocket the school she worked at out of academic emergency.

“The goal really is to get a new way of thinking and then bring it back and implement it at the school, and ultimately change the culture and lead change,” she said.

Board President William Harris said the selected schools are Fairview Elementary, Louise Troy Elementary, Edwin Joel Brown Elementary, Ruskin Elementary and Belmont High School.

RELATED: 5 kids who represent the best of Dayton Public Schools

In response to a question about how these schools were identified — there are other DPS schools with lower scores on the state’s performance index — DPS responded with a statement.

“The schools were selected by the range of test results, ages of students and diversity of geography and school buildings that are ‘on the rise.’ Some of the schools have received SIGs (School Improvement Grant). These are awarded by the U. S. Department of Education to use practices designed to improve academic achievement,” the statement says.

“The Partnership for Leaders in Education program presents an opportunity to develop leadership and make a difference in test scores.”

The contract was publicly discussed during a school board meeting July 10. School board members John McManus and Jocelyn Spencer-Rhynard asked for more information for themselves and the public before voting on it.

A brochure for the Partnership for Leaders in Education says the 16 Cincinnati schools they worked with increased their math proficiency by an average of 15 percent and reading proficiency by 17 percent. It claims the program brought five schools out of academic emergency and raised performance index scores at 12 schools.

RELATED: Plenty of parents love Dayton Public Schools; others plan to move

Its website says: “Our goal is to empower system- and school-level leaders to achieve dramatic improvement in a set of persistently under-performing schools. The lessons learned and successes achieved inform our strategies for expanding and sustaining success across the school system. The University of Virginia School Turnaround Program is rigorous, and we never lose sight of the real impact leadership can have on the lives of students.”

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