A Community Asset

SamOver the past several months I’ve had the privilege of talking to over 75 different groups about Issues 9 & 10 which will be on the ballot on November 6th.  Everywhere I go, I’ve been able to share our vision for our school district and our positive shared future.  It’s clear that people love Worthington Schools, and they often share with me very personal stories of teachers and support staff that have gone above and beyond to make a positive difference in the life of their child.  It’s awesome to have the opportunity to talk with our community about our schools.

As a public school district, we are a significant community asset.  When the school year began in August of this year, 10,362 Worthington students entered our schools.  To serve our students, we employ 1,205 FTE (full-time equivalent staff). As a service industry, our number one function is teaching the students in our school district and helping them each learn and grow to meet their potential.  Thus, the bulk of our staff are teachers.

However, in order to serve our students and our community we are a large organization.  Our bus fleet is 90 buses, and we travel on average 6,400 miles each day and over one million miles a year transporting students to and from school and co-curricular events.  Our grounds and maintenance team maintains 379 acres of school district land for playgrounds and green space. Our custodial team cleans 1,645,518 square feet of inside space every day.  Last year our food service team served students 883,179 meals. This year we’re on pace to serve even more meals!

Finally, Worthington Schools has capital assets owned by our community that are valued currently at around $185,000,000.  Buildings, land, furniture, etc… these are utilized each day to help accomplish our mission: To empower a community of learners who will change the world!

We’re lucky to live and work in a community that cares so deeply about its schools.  Every day I’m amazed by the good things happening throughout this large organization. 

Most of my numbers for this post come from our Worthington Schools Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2018 (p.135 and 137).  If you’d like to dig into the school district’s finances that report is available to the public simply by clicking here.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent



The Midas Touch

blogphoto2A few days ago on my way to work, I was driving north on High Street from my house to the WEC.  When I looked at the dash on my car I noticed the low tire pressure light was on. No problem I thought and I pulled into the BP station to add air.  Somehow as I attempted to add air I actually decreased my tire pressure from 29 PSI to 24 PSI. (36 would be the right number for my tires.) Something was not working correctly.  So, I jumped back in my car and drove south on High Street to the Speedway to use their pump. Their pump worked great but I couldn’t get the tire pressure gauge to work. I decided to just “eye-ball” the tire pressure.  Things looked good so I got back in the car and headed to work.

My car has a tire pressure monitor that tells what the tire pressure is for each tire.  As I drove towards the WEC, I realized my “eye-balling” plan was not working and the monitor now read that I had 50 PSI in one tire, 42 PSI in another, etc…  Apparently, I needed the gauge. So, I went back to BP. Their system was effective at taking the air out of my tires the first time and thus I thought I could just do it again and get each tire to the correct PSI.  As I’m certain you can ascertain, I failed miserably and now all four tires were either above or below the PSI they were supposed to be at. Additionally, my hands were covered in black stuff, my finger was bleeding and I was trying not to wipe either on my suit.

At this point, I wasn’t sure if I would laugh or cry.  But, I clearly couldn’t take care of this simple task myself so I drove to Midas.  I walked in sheepishly and explained to the young man what a mess I had made of my tire pressure.  He didn’t flinch. He didn’t make fun of me. He just said, no problem. I pulled my car around and within two minutes all four tires were even and set to the correct PSI.  I asked him what the cost was and he said, “no charge. Tire pressure is always free at Midas.” I wanted to hug the man but I’m not really a hugger and he didn’t look like one either.  

Here’s the thing…at one point or another we all need someone we spend time with to be like Midas.  We all need a friend or a colleague to bail us out when we’ve made a mess of things. Worthington Schools is a community of learners and as a community, we all need to rely on one another as we do life together.  This week let’s all endeavor to be Midas for someone in our community.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Why do we need more space?

IMG_7747I have lived in the same Worthington neighborhood for the past 13 years.  When my wife and I got married 24 years ago, we didn’t envision owning a split-level house built in 1958.  However, we love Worthington and so the house we own matters less than where it sits and much less than whom we get to raise our children around.  Apparently, many others feel the same way. In the last month, two of my neighbors put their houses up for sale. Both received multiple offers the day their house went on the market.  If current trends hold true, both houses will likely be sold to families with young children and eventually, that will increase the enrollment of Worthington Schools.

Since 2012 Worthington Schools has grown by around 1,200 students.  We opened this school year at 10,363 students. We last had that many students in Worthington Schools in 2001.  From 2001 to 2012 enrollment dropped by 1,200 students as all new home building went north to Delaware County. Our enrollment began to decline around 1998.  Over the last six years, we have seen incredible housing turnover throughout the school district resulting in similar enrollment growth. During the enrollment decline, we reduced many teaching positions and even closed some schools.  Now with our growth and those previously closed schools serving students in different ways we need to add staff back and add capacity to serve our students.

Since Worthington Schools once held 10,400 students in 2001 and currently holds 10,363 students in 2018, many people have asked me why we do not have the capacity needed to educate students in our current buildings?  This is a very fair question and one that is best explained by a national shift over the last 20 years to more specialized mandated programming. We don’t educate students in Worthington the same way we did in 2001, and for the most part, you wouldn’t want us to.

Here are some numbers to help you understand the shift that has occurred:

Total Enrollment:  2001 – 10,400 / 2018 – 10,363

Special Education Students:  2001 – 920 / 2018 – 1,512

Special Education Teachers:  2001 – 61 / 2018 – 104

Autism Classrooms:  2001 – 0 / 2018 – 13

English Language Learner Teachers:  2001 – 9 / 2018 – 19

Preschool Classrooms:  2001 – 3 / 2018 – 17

All-Day Kindergarten Classes: 2001 – 0 / 2018 – 18

All-Day Kindergarten is an optional program that we choose to offer because we think it adds value to our families.  All of our special education (including preschool) and English language programs are programs that we value and think are outstanding for our students.  They’re also mandatory programs. Each of our specialized programs takes up more classroom space than our regular education programming did in 2001. Thus, we utilize space differently and need more capacity for our programs than we did back then. 

As houses continue to turn over in Worthington like they are turning over on my street, our enrollment projections show that we can expect to grow by at least another 800 students over the next five years.  We all understand why – we believe Worthington is a great community to raise our kids in. As a school district, we need additional educational space to meet the needs of today’s learners!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent