Homecoming at Worthington Kilbourne

St.MyerIt’s Homecoming week at Worthington Kilbourne High School!  (Thomas Worthington celebrated their homecoming last week.)  Homecoming at Kilbourne stretches for several weeks.  Last weekend the students painted the windows in the cafeteria.  Each class paints a section and these turn into elaborate murals that stay up for several weeks.  (You should stop by and check them out.  Very cool tradition!)

Each day this week has been a dress-up day for the student body and for some of the staff.  Monday was PJ day, Tuesday 80’s day, Wednesday U.S.A. day, Thursday Beach day (school appropriate beach attire, as Superintendent I appreciate that they clarified this…) and Friday is a Pink Out.

Friday Night the Wolves Football team will host Hilliard Darby in the homecoming football game.  During that game, the homecoming court and the homecoming king and queen will be announced.  Saturday night will feature the homecoming dance to be held at the high school.  In Worthington, the homecoming dance is a dress-up affair and most students attend with a date or with a group of friends, pictures, and dinner before coming to the dance are the norm.

Most of these items are likely similar to the homecoming that you remember growing up.  In 2017 homecoming includes many students asking for dates with what they deem as “creative proposals.”  This trend is often attributed back to 2005 and a proposal to prom on an MTV show called Laguna Beach.  With our teens’ use of social media and their increasing willingness to share their lives publicly, homecoming and prom proposals have become a mainstay among American youth and, in Worthington, it’s no different.  (As a 44-year old I don’t love this trend.  It’s cute at times, but ultimately I’d like to see a person asked nicely and simply to a dance.  But, that said, most of our students are not asking for my opinion on the matter and thus, it is what it is.)

Homecoming week is a mainstay in our U.S. school culture.  Hopefully, it’s a fun, positive and safe week for our students.  Happy Homecoming Worthington Kilbourne!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Safety in our Schools

TWHS_79You likely saw the news yesterday that a student brought a loaded handgun to Thomas Worthington High School.  We were very disappointed that the student made this choice.  I have received many questions about what happened yesterday and about how we as a school district work to keep all students safe.

Yesterday morning our high school principal received a tip that a student may have a weapon in school.  We take every tip seriously and they are immediately investigated.  After hearing this information the principal went to the classroom where the student was in class, peacefully removed him from the classroom, and simply asked him about the accusation.  The student admitted to having the weapon, and he was turned over to the Worthington Police.  In this case, there was no disruption of school, no event that happened in the school, we have no knowledge of any threat nor knowledge of any plan of action.  We immediately communicated with all TWHS families.

We have learned that a second TWHS student saw the gun at the beginning of the school day, handled the gun, took a picture of himself with the gun and posted it to social media.  Obviously, this was a very poor choice.

As the Superintendent of Schools and as a parent of children in Worthington I sincerely wish we lived in a society where we didn’t have to be concerned about safety.  Unfortunately, the ills of our society are present in our community and thus also potentially present in our schools.

In Worthington, we have worked diligently to prepare our schools, our staff members, and even our students should we ever experience a senseless act.  Several years ago all Worthington Schools were modified to include secure entrances and to make sure the perimeter of every school is locked throughout the student day.  Our staff members have all been trained in the ALICE (run-hide-fight) incident response system and our staff members have worked with students to respond in a similar fashion should it ever be necessary.  For each school we have established “rally points” where students would go should such an event occur.

Every school principal in Worthington Schools carries a walkie-talkie.  By simply changing the channel they have direct access to the Worthington Police dispatcher which can immediately send police to the school.  In addition, every school office is equipped with a panic button that goes directly to 911.  Finally, Worthington has a safe schools hotline where students, parents or community members can anonymously leave tips should they suspect an act of potential violence. 1 (866) 871-0926.

School safety in Worthington is a three-pronged approach.  Secure buildings and strong plans with accompanying training are important but we recognize that many events are triggered by mental health issues or by feelings of isolation.  Our third prong of school safety is attempting to help our students deal with their mental health needs.  In Worthington we employ three full-time mental health specialists that work with our students as well as a partnership for therapeutic counseling services where we refer students and families to North Community Counseling.  

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.

In Worthington, the safety of our students and staff is our primary concern.  We’re attempting to be vigilant every day and we need every community member to partner with us.  Every child should feel safe and comfortable at school. If your child has concerns or feels unsafe, please contact any member of our school district staff to discuss these concerns.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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A Uniquely Worthington Event

Processed with MOLDIVLast weekend we held our annual Worthington Wellness Warrior Run at Granby Elementary.  Over 1,400 Worthington students ran through mud, over obstacles and across the one mile course.  The Warrior Run is uniquely Worthington and the brainchild of our Granby Elementary team.  

Wilson Hill Principal Dan Girard attended the event.  I don’t believe Dan actually ran in the event (maybe next year…) but I thought his message about the event was worth sharing:

“As I watched the the children of Worthington participate in the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run,  it encouraged me to reflect on the great community in which we live.  Upon arrival to McCord Middle School and Granby Elementary school the grounds resembled a festival. Tents were set up, music was playing, banners and flags were alive in the wind.  After a few minutes of searching for a parking place, I created one next to the Granby Bike Park along with a few other warrior runners.  When I finally arrived to the starting line I paused to look around and take in the energy.  There, along with me, were 1,400 participants and an abundance of parents, grandparents, siblings, and volunteers eagerly awaiting to send off the next set of runners.  In this vast field of “warriors” waiting their turn to attack the obstacle course I recognized many of the Wilson Hill racers.   

While standing at the finish line it was evident that each participant persevered throughout the race.  They did their best and did not give up.  They showed responsibility and honesty by staying on the course and following the rules as they ran.  Each person was respectful to his/her competitor, helping and encouraging along the route.  One student had a mishap along the course.  I saw a student from another school show them compassion by stopping to see if they were alright or needed help.  At one point a racer offered his hand to another person giving her assistance over an obstacle.  Each and every person that participated and finished showed self-discipline by staying the course while having fun in the process!

It is easy to take pause and be thankful for Worthington and the Wilson Hill community when I see people from all walks of life come together.  Thank you for all you do to make Worthington and Wilson Hill an amazing place to raise a family.”

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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The Wo’Town Hoedown

Wo'TownSome people may describe Worthington as an established inner-ring suburb with relatively high housing density and a new urbanist vibe.  Others may describe Worthington as a quaint New England town situated in the Midwest.  Those would all be accurate descriptions of Worthington but on October 21st we’re going country!

Country you say?  That’s right country!  October 21st is the date for the Wo’Town Hoedown!  They say that the Wo’Town Hoedown will be a time to saddle up and get ready for a boot-stompin’ good time!

We’ll have:

  • BARBEQUE from Oak Hill BBQ!
  • Delicious samples from J. Gilbert’s, Rusty Bucket, Panera, and Aladdin’s
  • Cash Bar
  • Rob Mottice and THE APPLE BOTTOM GANG will be live on site!

There will be live and silent auctions! Raffles galore!

The event will be held outside the Shops at Worthington Place, 7:00-10:00 p.m. and you’re encouraged to wear your favorite western garb! Yee Ha!

This event is the primary fundraiser for the Worthington Education Foundation.  The Foundation was formed on May 4, 1988, by a group of community leaders dedicated to making the educational experience of our children something extraordinary. Their goal was to make funds available for educational projects that went beyond the basic curriculum and would not otherwise be funded with tax dollars.

Over its nearly 25 year history, the Foundation has raised over $405,000 in contributions and awarded over 400 grants totaling over $310,000 to Worthington teachers and staff to fund exciting and innovative educational projects for our students. These projects range across all schools, grade levels, and subject areas.

We’re going country and we’d love for you to join us!  Purchase tickets asap at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wotown-hoedown-tickets-36978889855

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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“Our goal is to continually improve…”

HelpingOn September 14th the Ohio Department of Education will release district and school report cards for the 2016-2017 school year.  Our district, just like the hundreds of other districts across the state, is feeling the effects of a system that has changed the way it measures proficiency.  When the report card is released you’ll see Worthington receive grades ranging from A’s to F.  No matter what grade ODE provides us on an indicator we’ll never be satisfied. Our goal is to continually improve and see Worthington students succeed at higher and higher levels.

Our data from last year is very positive.  Worthington students continue to achieve at high levels relative to students across Ohio.  On average Worthington achieved 17% higher than the state overall.  But, let’s be honest.  We have a lot of advantages in Worthington and our students should achieve above the state average.

This year we showed improvement in 19 of the 23 academic achievement indicators.  The average improvement gain was 4.6%.  In addition we improved our performance index score by over 2.5% which indicates that students passed at higher levels than in previous years.  Beyond that in 2016-2017 we saw improved scores in our student subgroups.  Finally, more Worthington students took advanced courses such as AP, IB and College Credit Plus than in previous years.  

While the actual letter grades may be confusing our 2016-2017 report card saw improvements in every graded area.  We improved in Achievement, Gap Closing, K-3 Literacy, Students Prepared for Success, and the 4-Year Graduation Rate.  The one exception is our 5-Year Graduation Rate, which slipped slightly from 96.4 to 96.1.

As we work everyday in our classrooms to see improvement our continuous improvement plan focuses on four strategies.  

  • Creating a culture of empathy and support.
  • Increasing achievement in all content areas through development of skills in reading  informational text.
  • Increasing achievement in all content areas by developing skills in writing to make learning visible.
  • Increasing the level of cognitive rigor of instruction across all levels and areas of content.

When you step into our schools you’ll see these four strategies in every Worthington classroom at developmentally appropriate levels.  We feel like we’re absolutely on the right track with our students and if the State keeps the standards and assessments consistent year over year we believe we will continue to see increased student growth and achievement.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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How reappraisal affects Worthington Schools

reappraisalLast week my family received a letter in the mail  from Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo.  I was kind of afraid to open it….All Worthington City Schools residents recently received a similar letter with the updated values for your property as part of the Franklin County Auditor’s 2017 reappraisal process. The reports show that Worthington City Schools residents are expected to realize an increase in values of approximately 12.5% on residential property.

The 12.5% is the average increase of all properties.  Those whose valuation has gone up more than the average will see a larger increase in taxes and those whose valuation increase is less than the average will see a smaller increase and in some cases a decrease in their tax bill.

The first question many residents may have is: “Will my property taxes go up 12.5 percent?” The answer is no. While each property owner will be impacted differently, the average tax bill increase will be about 1.96% for our residents. This is a result of a state law, more commonly known as House Bill 920, which limits inflationary growth on taxes.

While HB 920 protects homeowners from large increases in taxes, it also prohibits school districts from collecting additional revenue from increases in property values. So unless new tax issues are passed, local revenue for schools remains relatively stagnant.  One exception to HB 920 is something called “inside millage”which is 4.5 mills for the Worthington district.  This is the only portion of the tax rate permitted to increase or decrease with valuation.

So while the average increase in property value was 12.5% the increase in revenue for Worthington Schools is expected to be less than 1% of our operating revenue.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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The ABC’s

ABCThe Jackson 5 famously sang “A B C…It’s easy as, 1 2 3…As simple as, do re mi…A B C, 1 2 3.”  In Worthington we’re also discussing our ABC’s.  For us it’s the ABC’s of our facilities planning process.

The “A” stands for Aging facilities. In Worthington we have many schools that were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Many of their systems are nearing the end of their useful life.  Over the past 10 years we have worked to update and replace those systems but we decided in 2015 that we needed to assess the overall condition of all of our schools.  We partnered with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to assess our buildings.  They determined that several of our schools were nearing the end of their useful life and that with the expected upkeep costs Worthington may be better off to build new schools.

The “B” stands for Balancing high school enrollment.  Currently, Thomas Worthington High School has 1,740 students and Worthington Kilbourne High School has 1,250 students.  As part of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s work we completed a new ten year enrollment study.  That study indicated that over the next several years both high schools will grow in enrollment but that the enrollment growth at Thomas Worthington will exceed the capacity of the school.  Thus, we will need to either add on to Thomas Worthington to increase capacity or move some student attendance areas from Thomas Worthington to Worthington Kilbourne.  

The “C” stands for Capacity for all students.  This year Worthington Schools opened with 10,201 students.  That is an increase in around 1,000 students in the past five years.  In addition, because the largest increases are in Kindergarten through 5th grade, we expect that the district will grow another 800 students over the next five years as our larger classes move up through the system.  We have exceeded our current elementary capacity and to combat this we have relocated Evening Street’s 6th grade to Kilbourne Middle School and added classroom trailers at Worthington Hills and Colonial Hills Elementary Schools.  

Over the past 12 months a community task force has been working to create a long-term plan that will address the ABC’s for Worthington.  “C” capacity has become our most urgent need but we’re hopeful that a solution can been created that has a positive impact on each of the ABC’s.  This fall we expect that the task force will be ready to make a recommendation to the Board of Education.  In the meantime, please take a few minutes and review our facilities planning webpage https://www.worthington.k12.oh.us/domain/989

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

In the video below Assistant Superintendent Randy Banks does an excellent job of explaining the ABC’s in Worthington

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