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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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:
- Secure facilities
- Comprehensive plans and training for staff
- 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