Patience May Be Needed

We begin the 2022-2023 school year in Worthington this Wednesday, August 17th.  The 17th is the first day for all students grades 1-9.  For Kindergarten students half the class comes on the 17th, half on the 18th, and the full class on the 19th.  For students in 10th-12th, the first day is the 18th.  DACC juniors begin on the 17th, juniors and seniors together on the 18th.  Preschool peers begin August 30th, preschool IEP students August 31st, and all preschool students September 1st.

As you know by now, the major shift this year is new start and end times for all of our schools.  

Early Elementary 7:40 – 2:20 

(Bluffsview, Brookside, Colonial Hills, Granby, Wilson Hill, Worthington Park)

Late Elementary 8:10 – 2:50 

(Evening Street, Liberty, Worthington Estates, Worthington Hills, Slate Hill)

High School 8:40 – 3:20

Middle School 9:10 – 3:50

Corresponding to the change of school times, all bus routes in Worthington Schools were revamped.  They were created in conjunction with routing experts at the Ohio School Boards Association, they’ve been modeled on the computer, and our bus drivers have driven all of the new routes this summer.  But…Wednesday will be the first time they are actually put into use with students and families.

Here is my plea….PATIENCE PLEASE!  We expect that there will be issues that need to be worked out.  We don’t know what those issues are yet or we would have already corrected them.  Each year as school begins anew, it takes us a week to ten days for us to get our transportation routes working well.  This year with the significant changes to routes, combined with the road work being completed in several neighborhoods, I expect it may take a little bit longer.  Our commitment to our families is that we will work tirelessly to troubleshoot and make things work.  Where we begin is not where we will end up.

Additionally, please be kind to your bus driver.  Our Worthington drivers are amazing but there is a critical shortage of drivers throughout Ohio and simply showing kindness, and thankfulness to our team will go a long way.

In the immortal words of one of the 80’s greatest hair bands led by singer Axl Rose:

“Need a little patience, yeah

Just a little patience, yeah

Some more patience, yeah”

We’re going to have a great school year in Worthington!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Ready for 22-23 School Year

We are just a few short weeks away from the start of the 2022-2023 school year, and I could not be more excited for what is in store. Academically, we are very much back on track coming off the difficulties of the pandemic. In many grades and subject areas, we have made more progress than students throughout the State of Ohio. We recognize this was a collective effort between students, teachers, and the support from home. Our principals and teachers have many more things planned to elevate student learning opportunities as this year progresses.

I want to both recognize and celebrate our teachers, staff, students, and families that supported summer learning this year. We had a record number of students and staff coming to school for several weeks, and the program was a tremendous success by every measure. We believe this will continue to pay long-term dividends for student learning.

I also want to recognize many of the “unsung heroes” that help make a school and district function. To all our support staff (maintenance, buildings and grounds, food service, transportation, technology, and support staff) who have worked tirelessly and flexibly throughout the summer, thank you! As a student, parent, or teacher, it can be very easy to take for granted the amount of work that needs to happen over the course of the summer and our staff are nothing short of amazing. Regardless of the obstacles in front of them, they always seem to find a way to make everything work and make our buildings look fresh for the start of the year. 

The new school year begins again in Worthington on August 17th, and we can’t wait to have all of our students and staff back together again!  2022-2023 is going to be a great year in Worthington.  We Love Worthington Schools!

Finances

Worthington is a school district funded primarily with local tax dollars. In 2021, local revenues accounted for 80 percent of total revenues.  Local revenue consists mainly of residential and commercial property taxes, accounting for $175.3 million of the $179.8 million total tax revenues.  Voters overwhelmingly supported an incremental operating levy in 2018, which increased the rate 2.9 mills that tax year, and an additional 2 mills each tax year from 2019 to 2021.  State revenue totaled $32.7 million and consisted of Worthington’s share of state funding as well as homestead and rollback property tax credits. State funding was reduced in FY20 due to the pandemic, and although state revenues exceeded expectations in FY21, not all of the reduction was restored, and the district received less aid in FY21 than it did in FY19.  Federal revenue consists of the National School Lunch Program and various federal grant programs such as Title 1 and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.).

Thanks to a strong local tax base and voter support of our 2018 operating levy, Worthington Schools’ short-term outlook is good.  However, the last increment of the 2018 operating levy goes into effect this year, and at that point, our revenues begin to flatten.  The new Fair School Funding Formula that Ohio has adopted will not provide meaningful increases to our revenue.  Expenses continue to increase as Worthington is a growing school district and houses continue to turn over with young families.  Additionally, now we need to continue to do more for our students in Special Education and our English Language Learners.  Recent spikes in inflation and gas prices have had an impact. 

Thus, Worthington Schools will be on the ballot in November for two separate issues, one will fund capital needs and the other will fund operating needs.

Capital

For capital, there will be both a 234 million dollar bond issue and a 1.9 mill permanent improvement levy.  The bond issue will fund a replacement of Thomas Worthington High School and major renovations at Worthington Kilbourne high school.

The permanent improvement levy will provide a permanent funding source for technology, buses, and ongoing maintenance needs at all our buildings, including our athletic facilities, that we previously have had to return to voters every 4-5 years for.  

Combined, the capital will be 4.6 mills for the bond issue and 1.9 mills for the PI, for a total of 6.5 mills.  However, our district has old debt being paid off, which will result in a decrease of 3.6 mills in the next few years.  Thus the net increase to the homeowner is really 2.9 mills.

Operating

On the operating side, as an above average property wealth district, we get very little increases in state funding, we are predominantly locally funded through property taxes.  For those that have been around for awhile, you know that schools periodically have to return to voters for operating levies.  That’s because the way property tax levies work, they don’t allow for annual growth.  Our revenue increases the year the levy passes and then flattens out, but since expenses increase annually, especially for a growing district like ours, schools must periodically go back to voters for another operating levy.

In 2018 we passed an incremental operating levy that we said would last 4 years, and we have fulfilled that promise.  This levy is the same size as that one, beginning with 2.9 mills, and adding 2 mills each of the next three years for a total of 8.9 mills.  It will allow us to maintain our current programming for at least the next four years and accommodate that projected enrollment growth.

1 mill equates to a tax increase of $35 dollars per 100,000 of home value.  Thus the initial year operating increase of 2.9 mills will cost roughly 100 dollars per $100,000 of home value, and the net capital increase of 2.9 mills will cost another $100, for a total of $203 per $100,000 of home value. The operating levy would cost an additional $70 per 100,000 each of the next 3 years.

Start and End Time Changes

Due to a State Law change, we have made adjustments to all schools’ start and end times for this school year (beginning in August of 2022).  

In October of 2021, the Ohio Budget Bill became effective. Written into that legislation ORC 3327.01, it said school districts must drop students at school within 30 minutes of the school start time. We must assure that this is true each year under the law (see the assurances here).

In order to make our previous busing system work, high school buses dropped students at school roughly 45-55 minutes before the start of classes each morning. This makes us out of compliance with the new law.

In creating this new system, we worked under the assumption that any new system needs to be built with our current bus fleet and a number of drivers in mind. Adding buses and drivers would make things easier, but in this current time and place, the ability to add drivers due to the nationwide driver shortage didn’t seem like a realistic assumption. In our new bus routes modeling, we needed 30 minutes between each level to make transportation work with our current fleet and staffing model. 

Early Elementary 7:40 – 2:20 

(Bluffsview, Brookside, Colonial Hills, Granby, Wilson Hill, Worthington Park)

Late Elementary 8:10 – 2:50 

(Evening Street, Liberty, Worthington Estates, Worthington Hills, Slate Hill)

High School 8:40 – 3:20

Middle School 9:10 – 3:50

This change gave us an opportunity to begin high school later to meet the recommended school start times for 6th-12 graders. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/features/schools-start-too-early.html. Our high school students have been asking for this change for years, and we believe it will benefit our teens from a better mental health and increased academic focus perspective.  

We’re excited about how this change will positively impact our 6th-12th grade students and eventually all students in the school district.

Additionally, because there are 30 minutes between each level of school, we believe we will see a decrease in traffic at sites where there are multiple schools.  On Hard Road, we have Worthington Kilbourne High School, McCord Middle School, and Granby Elementary on the same site.  This new system should spread out the traffic more evenly.  Hopefully the same is true for Thomas Worthington High School and Evening Street Elementary.  

But….this is a big change.  We’ll ask families to be patient in August as inevitably there will be some issues that need ironed out.

New Principals

As we begin a new school year, we have some new leaders in place.  Julie Payne will become the Principal at Bluffsview Elementary and Tienna Miller will become the Principal at Worthington Hills Elementary.  Dominique Alexander will become a new Assistant Principal at Worthington Kilbourne High School, Sjanneke Baker will become a new Assistant Principal at Kilbourne Middle School, and Abby Jinks will become a new Assistant Principal at Worthingway Middle School.  We’re excited to see these new leaders in action!

Summer Improvements

As people come back to school, they will see many improvements across the school district in facilities.  The playground equipment at Worthington Estates Elementary has been replaced, and there will be a new big toy on the playground at Slate Hill Elementary and Brookside Elementary.  All mobility paths around schools are being resurfaced.  The library and gymnasium at Kilbourne Middle School are being revamped with air conditioning added to the gym at Kilbourne Middle and a total refresh of the library to make it a more student-friendly gathering space.  Likewise, at McCord Middle School all flooring in the original sections is being replaced to match the new ones, the lockers in the locker rooms have been replaced, and a student gathering area has taken shape for collaboration and flexible learning.  Finally, planning continues for the replacement of the Thomas Worthington locker rooms at  Dow Nelson Field.  That building will be demolished this fall, and by the fall of 2023, a new facility should be in place.  These projects wrap up most of phase one of the master facilities plan.

New Athletic Branding for 2022

Our branding team made up of parents, staff members, and students met throughout the fall of 2021 and worked with us to evolve the athletic mascot logos for both Worthington Kilbourne and Thomas Worthington as well as our corresponding middle schools.

We needed to make sure that we have unique owned assets (not a college’s logo) and better brand discipline (consistent colors) for our 6-12 schools.

The mission was to create unique brand identities for Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne mascots while uniting them under the Worthington banner.

Our vision for Worthington is to stand out. When people see a member of any Worthington High School athletic team, they see both Worthington pride AND the specific traits and personalities of each individual school.

Families can purchase new Worthington gear at:  https://www.worthington.k12.oh.us/Page/5231

School Safety

School Safety is at the forefront of our thought process moving into a new school year.  In June Ohio Passed HB 99 allowing educators in Ohio to carry a gun in school with reduced training from what was previously required.  

In Worthington, we have determined that we will not change current District policy and will continue to prohibit the carrying of weapons on all District property by any Worthington City Schools staff, students, and members of the public. Our decision is driven by the needs of our students, staff, and community.

Worthington Schools follows a comprehensive safety plan that encompasses multiple areas.  Overall safety is a three-pronged approach:

  1. Secure facilities
  2. Comprehensive plans and training for staff
  3. Mental health assessment and support

Most importantly, our staff members are committed to providing school cultures where every student knows they have a trusted adult in their school that cares about them and believes in them.  “See Something, Say Something” is more than a slogan.  Our students and staff are comfortable talking with one another, and it’s students who will most likely be best positioned to alert our staff of potential safety concerns.

Back to School

Our Back to School guide is live on our Worthington Schools Website.  Check it out: https://www.worthington.k12.oh.us/Page/5012

School begins in a few short weeks! Let’s make 2022-2023 the best year yet!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Congratulations Karmyn!

This evening (7.28.22) I was honored to join Karmyn Metzger as she was awarded the 2022 Ohio Master Teacher Award in Cleveland by the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.  The Jennings Foundation strives to foster the development of Ohio’s students by supporting the teaching profession and partners that are committed to deep learning and excellent teaching. 

It is their aim to support teachers, school leaders, and their partners in providing enriching learning environments so that students become empowered to learn and think deeply, enabling them to develop their passions, direct their lives, become responsible and contributing individuals, and achieve sustained, personal success.

In receiving this award the foundation recognizes what we in Worthington Schools see everyday from Karmyn.  She is really, really special.  Her nomination for this award was made by her principal at Worthington Hills Elementary.  This is what it said:

“Karmyn is a gift to the teaching profession and the Worthington Hills school community.  Her classroom is a safe and loving environment where second grade students are empowered to be curious thinkers, lifelong learners, and participating citizens of the world.  She believes great teaching and learning begin by building a strong foundation centered on relationships and engagement.  She sees each child as an individual; she meets all children where they are and lifts them up.  Her ability to connect with students in compassionate ways and to try new things inspire those around her.  She has a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and a willingness to help others.”  Wow!

After receiving her award Karmyn was asked to say a few words.  Her words blew me away and thus I asked if I could share them with you:

“Thank you to the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation for this award.  It is such an incredible honor.  I am so grateful to Allie Seiling and Jen Lehe (Columbus Museum of Art) and Dr. Trent Bowers for their support in Worthington.  I have the privilege of collaborating with so many folks who inspire me – special note of gratitude to everyone involved in the C4 project.

My students and my 3 wonderful kids at home inspire me daily to be the best teacher and person I can be.  I’m lucky to get to learn along with them each day.  Children are capable of so much!  We just have to listen to them.  To my children and my husband Adam…I love you so much.  Thank You!

For this upcoming school year my word is Joy.  My hope for students and teachers everywhere is that we will learn, grow, collaborate, and create, this year while feeling love, support, and joy each day.”

Congratulations Karmyn! 

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Update on: I Am Boundless / Colonial Hills Site

Back in the Fall of 2019 Worthington Schools was presented the opportunity to purchase a portion of the I Am Boundless Site (former Harding Hospital site) which we saw as a potential site for a new Colonial Hills Elementary. 

Background information was  provided in each of these four blogs which I wrote on the Worthington School District website:

From my perspective, the general feeling district-wide was that we should pursue the property because property fit for a school site is very rare within our district boundaries.  Feedback within the Colonial Hills community was more mixed with some support and some resistance.  

Negotiations for the property began in earnest two years ago and we’ve had many starts and stops with I Am Boundless and the pandemic definitely set back conversations for a period of time. 

Earlier this week Patrick Maynard the CEO of I Am Boundless informed us that: “The I Am Boundless Board Campus Development Committee met on July 1 and considered the Worthington Schools proposal to purchase the SE portion of the property. Based upon their recommendations, we have made the decision to not accept the WCS proposal – to be more precise, our decision is to remove that portion of our property from consideration for sale.”

At this point unless something changes with the Boundless decision, the school district will likely look to phase three of the Master Facilities Plan likely in 2026 or 2027, and work with the current property to create the kind of learning environment our Worthington students deserve both now and into the future.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Nov. 8 Ballot Issues

On June 27, the Worthington Schools Board of Education voted to place two issues on the Nov. 8 ballot. The decision to place these issues on the ballot came after months of discussion led by our district leadership team with the board, staff and community members.

Worthington projects a positive fund balance for the next four years. However, deficit spending begins this year and escalates annually. This is mainly due to the fact that our District is primarily funded through local property taxes, and Ohio laws prohibit inflationary growth in property tax revenue for school districts. Our last incremental operating levy, approved in 2018, was projected to last four years, and it has. It’s now fully phased in, and because of this Ohio law, our revenue is projected to be flat, while expenses, especially in this inflationary environment along with our increasing enrollment, continue to grow. Although the state implemented a new school funding formula, the net increase to our district, as an above average wealth suburb, is very little. Our projected unreserved fund balance will go from $72 million at the end of the 21-22 school year to only $6 million at the end of 2026. For these reasons, the Board of Education has begun the process to put an incremental operating levy on the ballot this fall. The request is identical to the one approved in 2018 and asks for an additional 2.9 mills next year along with a 2 mill increment each of the following 3 years for a total increase of 8.9 mills over a four year period. We project this levy will again last at least four years.

Over the past 16 years, Worthington has operated in a fiscally responsible manner.  Our annual expenditure growth during this period of time has been 2.58% on average, in line with the average Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment of 2.23% during that time.  However, State Funding is not keeping pace. Over that same time period, state funding has only grown on average 1.6%, well below inflation and cost of living adjustments.   

Incremental operating levies are phased in to meet the needed expenses of the school district, instead of being collected all at one time. This would help fund day-to-day operations for the district including staffing, utilities, instructional supplies, and services.  

The second is a combined bond and permanent improvement issue. The $234 million bond issue would fund Phase 2 of our Master Facilities Plan. As we’ve shared previously, Phase 2 involves renovating and replacing most sections of Thomas Worthington High School, renovating Worthington Kilbourne High School and replacing the natatorium. The changes to Thomas Worthington will include creating a larger cafeteria, while also adding and modernizing science labs and other flexible learning spaces. At Worthington Kilbourne, the upgrades will be centered around allowing more natural light into student areas, installing a new roof, and modernizing the heating and cooling systems. 

The permanent improvement ballot issue would help meet the district’s ongoing needs for school buses, maintenance of our facilities, back-end technology, playground equipment, and furniture. 

If both issues are passed on Nov. 8, taxes will increase by approximately $203 per $100,000 of appraised home value (per the county auditor, not Zillow!) in year one, and go up by $70 per year per $100,000 of assessed home value for the next three years.  

We will share more information about these issues later this summer. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

-Trent Bowers Superintendent

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What a Year!

I really believe that I have the best job in the world!  I’ve had the great privilege to spend the last few weeks meeting with every staff in the school district, attending recognition evenings, elementary super fun days, retirement celebrations, and our high school commencement ceremonies.  It’s been a very, very positive conclusion to this school year.  As we end a school year, I am reflective of the long strange trip this year has been and yet more resolved than ever that our kids and families in Worthington are really worth it!  We’re ending this school year on an incredibly positive note.  I love that we can all move into summer that way.  But, what a year this has been!  

In thinking back through the last ten months it’s been crazy.  We started the year with protests where community members held signs on TV and at the Worthington Education Center saying “If masks are a no, Bowers must go.”  (It is kind of a catchy chant.)  Eventually, sentiment shifted for some and people were emailing that I wasn’t meeting my responsibilities as a leader because I was not advocating strongly enough that masks be removed.  We had signs and disruptions at Board meetings like nothing we had ever experienced before and a school board race that was extremely contentious.  

In school, our students returned for a full year with significant challenges of how to interact with one another, in completing assigned work, and in simply reintegrating into daily school routines with teachers and peers.  Distancing and masking restrictions continued to add to the challenges both students and staff members needed to deal with.  There were shortages in substitutes, bus drivers, and in basic school food menu items.  Lead times on building supplies seemed to get longer every time something was needed. 

And yet…with all the challenges of the school year, we accomplished so, so much.  We opened this year as a K-5, 6-8 school district.  Perry Middle School opened as a new school.  We held community open houses for our new and renovated middle school spaces.  We implemented 1:1 computing for all students in the school district.  We worked with our community to finalize a plan for phase two of the master facilities plan.  We added the amazing Kelli Davis to our Board of Education.  We completed a high school mascot rebranding.  We formulated a plan to change start times for the 22-23 school year that will allow a later start time for 6-12th grade students and we worked through that change process with staff and the community.  We built shelter houses on each elementary school playground and we replaced the “big toys” on the Wilson Hill playground.  We completed full-scale safety drills at every school in the district and we added safety monitor positions at TWHS and WKHS to better supervise and connect with our high school students.  We’ve revamped our student dress guidelines for the 22-23 school year to bring consistency and modernization to our expectations.  We’ve partnered with The Ohio State University and built a strong foundation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion champions to help move us forward in each school in Worthington.  We successfully revamped our reading intervention and moved away from Reading Recovery as a service delivery model. We’ve increased our engagement and communication with families of students receiving special education services.  We adopted new science curriculum materials and expanded our emergent English Language Learner pathway to both sides of the school district.  On multiple occasions, we partnered with Columbus Public Health and hosted vaccination clinics for students and the community.  Just last week we had students from TWHS, WKHS and Worthington Academy accept full-time positions with Worthington Industries after completing a workforce experience while in high school.  I’m certain this is only a fraction of what was accomplished.

In Worthington, our teachers, principals and support staff persevered.  They showed up daily at high levels and in partnering with human resources we didn’t experience the significant substitute teacher shortages that surrounding school districts faced.  Our bus drivers were amazing!  Day after day they did the impossible and we never needed to adjust school schedules because we didn’t have the necessary staff.  Our food service team served 400,000 more meals than we do in a typical school year and they did so with our existing staff.  I’m incredibly grateful to our Worthington Schools team.  They did the hard work for kids everyday.

And, because our team showed up and persevered, students flourished.  It wasn’t always easy, it was often very difficult, and rarely was growth linear, but everyday our students grew in their social maturity and their academic stamina.  Learning gaps were closed.  Students thrived with consistent school schedules and food available at school.  Our seniors had a full school year in person, participating in their co-curriculars and the important school traditions we value.  They experienced incredible athletic highs and lows.  Just last week Worthington Kilbourne won a tournament lacrosse game in four overtimes.  Conversely, our Thomas Worthington Field Hockey team lost in overtime of the state championship game.  Rivalry games were held, and students participated on the field, and in the stands, at record levels.  Our seniors graduated this weekend ready to go on to college, or into the workforce, and I have no doubt that they’re prepared to meet our mission and Change the World.  

In the next few weeks, we’re prepared to welcome over 1,200 students into summer learning opportunities on our campuses.  We believe that we’ll have our largest transportation summer ever with 20 different bus routes serving summer school.  We’ll begin hosting summer sports camps and we’ll look forward to sharing the Thomas Worthington parking lot with the community pool.  On June 9th we’ll be hosting a community meeting to begin sharing concepts for rebuilding Thomas Worthington High School and renovating Worthington Kilbourne High School.  

This school year has been full of highs and lows.  What a year it’s been for sure.  But in Worthington we say #ItsWorthIt and we really believe it!  Thanks for making Worthington a great place for students and families!  I hope you have a peaceful, relaxing and fun-filled summer.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Graduation Day 2022

I love graduation day! As Superintendent in Worthington I have the best job in the world.  I get to work with the best team, in the very best community, and today we get to celebrate the very best students.  We’ll graduate close to 815 students this afternoon at the Columbus Convention Center.  It’s such an incredible privilege to get to spend today with families celebrating the accomplishments of their children.

As someone who was lucky enough to grow up in Worthington, and is raising his children in Worthington, there are many, many personal connections.  I’m excited to see another Beck, Korn, James, Mottice, Piero, Parsons and Williamson added to our alumni base.  I sat in the stands many years ago and watched Luke Brown’s mom graduate from Worthington Kilbourne High School and today I get to see him do the same.  Brianna Biehn and Aidan Crowley have come a long way since playing at our house in preschool and I’m excited to hear Kate McClellan address the Thomas Worthington graduating class.  

I met Ray Lees back around 2010 while I was still working in Worthington’s Human Resource Department.  I can’t wait to watch some Lees’ graduate today.  When I was the Assistant Superintendent I met Meghan Zink.  Her son J.J. was in first or second grade and she was concerned about class size at Granby.  In our first meeting I blurted out, “Megan you’re giving me a headache.”  Later at a school event she came right up to me and said, “Remember me? I’m the one who gave you a headache.”  A friendship was born and J.J. graduates today.  I could go on and on, but it’s a very special day.

In Worthington our students choose who will present their diploma.  And thus, one of the very best parts of graduation is to see the sincere joy between the graduate and the teacher, or other school employee, who will give out their diploma.  We have teachers and coaches from all levels of the organization and at least one school custodian who will present a diploma.  I’ll be the guy crying as I watch their shared joy!

Each year as Superintendent I have the privilege of addressing the graduates.  Obviously, I want to congratulate them on their accomplishments but I also want to leave them with a few words of wisdom.  This year my speech centers on 1986 when I was finishing my 7th grade year at Perry Middle School and beginning my 8th grade year at McCord Middle School.  In the words of our students today, RunDMC and Aerosmith had just released a “collab,” the Beastie Boys were teaching us to “Fight for our Right to Party” and the movie Top Gun was released.  This week the Top Gun sequel comes out and thus I will attempt to share three lessons with our graduates:

  1. “Never leave your wingman”
  2. “I feel the need…the need for speed”
  3. “Talk to me Goose”

In the interest of time I had to edit out other important lessons such as “You’ve lost that lovin feeling,” “Highway to the danger zone” and  “I’m going to hit the brakes and he’ll fly right by.”  All important, but landed on the editing room floor.  If you’re interested in hearing those lessons, or have no interest in those lessons, but want to watch the very best students graduate,  livestream is available:

WKHS @ Noon:  (Livestream link: www.worthington.k12.oh.us/wkhsgrad)

TWHS @ 4PM (Livestream link: www.worthington.k12.oh.us/twhsgrad)

Today we get to celebrate the BEST!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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In Appreciation of our Worthington Staff

This week is staff appreciation week and I believe that our Worthington staff is very deserving of our appreciation.

When we gathered together back in August for our annual staff convocation we did so with a theme for the year of “What’s your story?” We understood that over 10,600 students would walk into our schools each day this year.  Every one of those students has a story.  We would likely know part of each story. The part we thought we knew would shape our expectations for that student.  The part we thought we knew shaped whether we would give mercy and grace on an assignment or whether we would hold tight to our stated rules and guidelines.  When we know more we do more.  When we really know someone’s story, it changes everything. It changes how we think, how we interact, and even what we expect.  

Everyone has a story, but not everyone has a person to listen to that story.

We understood that technology has changed the way we think and interact. The pandemic had created an isolation that is real.  We weren’t made to be behind a screen.  Those two things combined and created a toxic climate for over a year.  We knew we were back together. We knew that we needed to be together.  We needed connection and community.  We were convinced that the path forward was in-person in a meaningful relationship. 

What we didn’t know back in August was just how hard all of this would be!  We didn’t really understand how far behind student maturity and student academic stamina had fallen over the previous 18 months.  We didn’t understand how masks would add another layer of challenge or how many of our students would need to totally relearn interacting with one another.  We didn’t know the number of absences we would face, both student and staff, and how supply chain disruptions would make simple needed items difficult to obtain.  There was so much we didn’t yet know. 

This school year in Worthington was about bringing people back together.  If each student in Worthington Schools was really going to have a trusted adult who they know cares about them and believes in them, then each of us had to pursue the stories of those we serve.  Each of us had to strive to be the person that listens, that takes the time to invest and show we care.

And yet, even with all we didn’t know and would go on to experience, everyday our team showed up, worked hard and did everything within their power to help our kids.  They battled their own exhaustion.  They battled their own COVID concerns. They put themselves second and our students first.  They worked to learn the story of each child and to help our students come back together.  They were awesome!  They are awesome!

There are 1,325 adults who commit to working every day in Worthington Schools.  Collectively, this year we helped our students rebound from this pandemic, and we are creating the school communities that we desire for our students and for one another.  Please thank a staff member for giving of themselves to help Worthington kids!  #ItsWorthIt

With extreme gratitude for our team,

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Be Well!

Last month, a few members from our Worthington Education Center Academic Achievement and Professional Learning Team were having a conversation with a group of parents who serve on the Curriculum Liaison Council for Worthington Schools.  A guest speaker from the community had just shared about mental health supports and services for our students and our families. The conversation extended to the connections and partnerships necessary between the school staff, community groups, and families to support our students.  Upon hearing about the communication and collaboration structures that we sometimes are able to employ for student support, a parent extended the quote of “it takes a village” with being thankful for the Worthington community.

In Worthington Schools, the well-being of our students is a priority.  We continue to boost supports to our students and families regarding their physical, mental, and social-emotional health and well-being through our school counseling program, mental health supports, and curricular programs at our schools on anti-bullying, signs of suicide, and healthy relationships.

We know that we cannot do this on our own, so we also partner with community organizations and groups to enhance our support with groups such as Nationwide Children’s Hospital, North Community, and Worthington CARES.  

This year, we are also partnering with Dublin City Schools to host a free family and community wellness event on Saturday, April 30 called “Be Well”.  The event will be at the Dublin Emerald Campus from 9 AM – 12 PM at 5175 Emerald Parkway in Dublin.  There will be just over 45 sessions led by Worthington and Dublin staff, community partners, and even students.  These sessions include: mental health and suicide prevention; helping students navigate stress, pressure, and anxiety in uncertain times; things every parent can do to keep their kids safe online; and, strengthening your parenting partnership through co-parenting.  There will also be screenings of the short film Upstanders with moderated discussions after the film.

You can find more information about the Be Well Conference as well as how to register on our School District website.  Community members can register, view sessions, and select sessions based on their interest.  

We are excited to gather our Worthington community together along with Dublin to provide a day of learning more about our children, their world, and how to best support their safety, health and well-being.  We hope to see you there on Saturday, April 30th!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Discussing a Potential Tax Levy

At Monday evening’s (3.28.22) Worthington Board of Education meeting, Treasurer TJ Cusick led the board in a discussion about a possible future funding request (Levy, Bond, and/or Permanent Improvement).  It’s expected that the board will vote later this Spring for Worthington Schools to be on the ballot in November. 

School districts in Ohio are primarily funded through local property taxes. In fact, 80% of Worthington’s revenue comes from local property.  As values on local properties rise (and they’re rising fast right now!!!) school districts do not see much growth in their property tax collections.  A law passed in the 1970’s called House Bill 920 protects property owners from increases in taxes due to inflation. That means school districts need to come back to local voters to ask for an increase in taxes to match the increased costs of providing an excellent education to our students.

Operating Funds

In 2018, Worthington passed an incremental operating levy and committed that it would last four years.  We have met that commitment. Operating levies pay for the daily operations of the school district.  Over 80% of those funds cover the salaries and benefits of employees.  The rest is used for utilities, maintenance, chromebooks, instructional supplies and services.

Long term, our spending is set to increase on average by 4-5%. This spending increase is mainly due to annual wage increases currently negotiated at 2.25%, step increases, projected insurance increases, and the addition of 44 new staff members to accommodate the projected enrollment growth of 600 students – 15% of which are likely to require special needs services.  We are also experiencing inflationary increases just like everyone else to our cost of fuel, utilities and maintenance services.

However, our revenue is projected to remain flat after this year.  We currently have $78.3 million as an unreserved fund balance.  Without new revenue that balance would just about be eliminated over the next four years.  Ohio passed a fair school funding plan, and while that is likely positive for public education as a whole, it is not set to provide any substantial increases to Worthington Schools.  

One mill in Worthington raises about $2.3 million, and 2.9 mills raises about $6.67 million.  If the Board of Education were to follow the 2018 path of an incremental operating levy with a 2.9 mill increase in year one, and then an increase of 2 mills in each of the next three years, this would not cover the amount our spending is increasing! We would need to pull money each year from the unreserved fund balance to cover the difference, gradually spending it down. In this plan, Worthington would commit to being off the ballot for four years, until 2026.  Incremental operating levies benefit the community because the revenue from the tax increase is phased in to meet the needed expenses of the school district, instead of collected all at one time.

We believe that being on the ballot every four years is asking our community for reasonable levies at reasonable intervals.

Bond and Permanent Improvement

In 2018, Worthington passed a bond issue that raised $89 million of which $60 million funded the middle school projects.  Approximately $5 million will go toward the TWHS fieldhouse that is expected to get underway very soon.  The rest of the bond funded new school buses, maintenance to schools, back-end technology, playground equipment, furniture and band and orchestra instruments.  

Worthington will need to secure new revenue both to build Phase 2 of the Master Facilities Plan and for the ongoing needs of school buses, maintenance to schools, back-end technology, playground equipment, furniture, etc…

The board will likely look to ask the community for 4.6 mills to fund the MFP Phase 2.  This would raise approximately $234 million to fund the projects.  However, Worthington Schools has 3.6 mills of debt that will be paid off in the next few years.  So the net new ask to the taxpayer will be about 1 mill.  (If the new ask is not approved by the taxpayers, their bill will actually go down because the 3.6 mills of debt being paid off.)

Additionally, the school district may ask for 1.9 mills of permanent improvement tax.  A PI would provide an ongoing revenue stream (1.9 mills would raise around $4.2 million annually that would be used yearly for school buses, maintenance to schools, back-end technology, playground equipment, furniture, etc…)

The bond and PI would be on the ballot as one vote.  The voter would need to approve a 4.6 mill bond and a 1.9 mill PI.  However, the net increase would only be about 2.9 mills.

What would these Funding Requests cost for homeowners?

One mill of taxation costs the homeowner $35 per $100,000 of appraised value.  The appraised value is what the auditor has valued your house at, not your Zillow value. 

In year one, a 2.9 mill operating ask and a 2.9 mill capital ask would raise the taxes by $203 per $100,000 of assessed home value.  Additionally, each year there would be an operating cost increase of an additional $70 per year per $100,000 of assessed home value in each of the next three years.

Paying taxes is difficult.  Over the past two decades, the State of Ohio has significantly reduced the State Income Tax.  We can debate whether this is a good policy or not, but many Worthington residents have benefited from it. Suburban taxpayers pay less to the state than they used to but will need to pay more locally in order to fund schools. Every dollar that is sent to Worthington Schools stays local, and local taxpayers have greater accountability on how the school district spends the money.  

What’s Next?

At this point, none of this is final.  The Board of Education will continue to discuss the potential tax increases and will continue to seek community feedback.  The board will meet again on April 25th and hopes to make a decision by May 9th.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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