Recommendations

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The work of the community-led task force, created for the purpose of Master Facilities Planning, has concluded.  Monday night the task force presented its recommendations to the board of education with a three-phase, comprehensive plan.

I’d like to thank our entire community task force led by Nikki Hudson and Amy Lloyd as well as Tracey and Lee from Cooperative Strategies which was DeJong-Richter 15 months ago when we first began this process. There is a visual that I refer to often.  On the top it shows a straight line angled upwards and it’s titled “what we think success looks like.”  On the bottom it shows a squiggly line that goes up and down but ultimately ends upward in the same place as the top diagram.  It’s titled “what success really looks like.”  This process was much like that bottom diagram.  Our task force would make progress and then take a few steps back.  We’d go down one road and determine that road was a “dead end” and then have to backtrack.  Our task force persevered.  Sometimes they were emotional, sometimes they were frustrated, but they kept coming back.  They stayed with the process for 15 months and they dedicated countless hours. In the end I believe the final product honors the input of hundreds of community members as well as the tradition of Worthington.  The final product is different than I would have created on my own.  I think that’s true of everyone who was part of this process.  I’m proud of the work of this team and thankful for their dedication to make Worthington better.

The goal of the Master Facilities Plan is to identify solutions for our most urgent facility and operational needs, including, caring for our aging facilities, managing for enrollment fluctuations, and balancing high school enrollment so that students throughout the district are provided with equitable opportunities no matter which high school they attend. We often refer to these challenges as the ABCs of facilities planning- Aging Facilities, Balancing High School Enrollment and Capacity for all.

Here’s why:

Worthington Schools’ enrollment has increased by 1,000 students over the past five years, and independent reports indicate that the district will grow another 800 students over the next five years. Worthington is currently in the top ten school districts for enrollment growth in the entire state of Ohio!

We also have some buildings that are well past the half-century mark, with infrastructure and mechanical systems that are near or beyond their working lifespan and are becoming more costly to maintain. Without a plan, these increasing costs could impact funding in the classroom.

We are also facing a growing unbalance in our high school enrollment. Currently, Thomas Worthington High School (TWHS) has 1,740 students and Worthington Kilbourne High School (WKHS) has 1,250 students.  We expect both high schools will grow in enrollment over the next several years and in the case of Thomas Worthington, the growth will exceed the capacity of the building.  

For our growing enrollment, the Master Facilities Plan recommends that the school district change elementary configuration to Kindergarten – 5th grade, with 6th grade going to the middle school. Moving 6th grade creates the needed capacity at the elementary level. This decision was based on community feedback collected through online and telephone surveys, which indicated that the majority of our community preferred this option. A big benefit to this plan is that the school district can keep neighborhoods together and minimize redistricting as well.

The district will also reopen Perry Middle School and expand the facility so that we can continue to offer the valued programs Phoenix Alternative Middle School and Worthington Academy.

To address our aging school buildings, Phase I of the plan will rebuild Worthingway and renovate all other middle schools – buildings that are in need of immediate repair. In addition, all schools will receive needed technology and equipment upgrades. Phase II will repair/renovate TWHS. Elementary building replacements and renovations will be considered in Phase II and Phase III.

To better balance high school enrollment, the plan recommends moving an elementary school attendance area from TWHS to WKHS. The decision of which elementary will move to the WKHS attendance area has not been decided. Further discussion and evaluation of elementary schools is needed.

So, what happens next?  Monday night the Board of Education received the final report from the community task force.  In order for this plan to move forward it will require funding to be approved by the community.  Sometime in the next 24 months Worthington will need both a bond issue for capital needs and an operating levy to pay for operating needs.  Mr. McCuen and I will engage the Board over the next several months to determine the timing of the upcoming ballot issues and the scope of those ballot issues.  Ultimately what is put forward to the community on a ballot will determine the final plan for dealing with our aging buildings, balancing our high school enrollment and creating capacity for all students.

If a bond issue is placed on the Nov. 2018 ballot and is successful, construction could begin immediately.  But a change to 6-8 middle schools would likely not occur until the fall of 2021 based upon estimated construction timelines.  Balancing of the high school feeder patterns may need to begin sooner than that.  In the interim we will continue to add modular classrooms at schools as enrollment continues to exceed capacity.

We’ve completed one phase of an important process that will shape the future of Worthington.  I appreciate the input from our community and look forward to seeing this process through to fruition.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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The Power of Moments

2016_V-Coache_BromoI’m currently reading “The Power of Moments” by Chip and Dan Heath.  According to the Heath brothers, when remembering experiences, people mostly recall the high (or low) points and the endings. For an experience to become a “memorable moment,” it must involve either “elevation” (going beyond expectations), “insight” (learning something new about oneself), “pride” (feeling personal fulfillment), or “connection” (sharing the moment with another person). The book has helped me personally focus on the power of small great things and how the words we speak to kids matter a great deal now and into their future.  

Last Monday night I was at our Board of Education meeting but my family attended our Drug Safe Worthington presentation at Thomas Worthington High School.  When my daughter came home from the Drug Safe Worthington event I casually asked her how the night was, and with a big smile on her face she said: “Dad, Bromo said I was athletic!” (Bromo is Kilbourne Middle School teacher and coach, Caitie Christel whose maiden name was Caitie Bromagen and thus, “Bromo”). I was like, um, duh…  Like this was news to her?  Like her dad hadn’t been encouraging her for 12 years, etc..?  But as I reflected on her clear excitement and joy Tuesday morning I thought…here is a classic example of how a two-second interaction makes a huge difference for a child.

My daughter woke up Tuesday believing she was more athletic than she did Monday.  Why? Because Bromo told her she was and Bromo coaches high school field hockey.  It mattered to her.  Bromo’s small and seemingly insignificant comment created for her insight about herself, a level of pride and a personal connection.  It fits three of the Heath brothers’ criteria for a moment to become memorable. As educators and as parents, the small (and seemingly insignificant) interactions we have with our kids on a daily basis shape a significant portion of how they view themselves, thus, it’s critical that we choose our words wisely.  

My hope, and my expectation is that throughout Worthington Schools we’re creating positive memorable moments for our students that let them know that we care about them and that we believe in them.  Last week in a small way Bromo did just that!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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Happy Thanksgiving 2017

ThanksgivingAs we head into the Thanksgiving holiday we have lots to be thankful for in Worthington.  I’m thankful for our committed teachers and support staff who take seriously their role in making sure that every child in Worthington Schools has a trusted adult who they know cares about them and believes in them.  I’m thankful that our primary teachers focus on helping every child learn to read and I’m thankful at the secondary level that our teachers have embraced a new math curriculum resource and they’ve made the changes necessary in their classrooms to challenge all students to higher levels of growth.

I’m thankful that we have a fleet of bus drivers who drive over one million miles each year and are willing to begin and end their day in the dark and deal with inclement weather and traffic while having a remarkable record of keeping students safe.  I’m thankful for a food service team that continues to try and introduce more fresh and healthy options for our students while also operating the food service budget so that it is cost neutral to the general fund budget.

I’m thankful that we have a dedicated team of fifty community members who have met for fifteen months to create a long-term Facilities Master Plan that will help us manage our aging buildings, the need to balance our high school student population, and to make certain we have the capacity for all students.  I expect that plan to be presented to the Board of Education on December 11th.  

I’m thankful that families are choosing Worthington.  Our student enrollment has grown by approximately 1,000 students over the past five years and we’re predicted to continue to grow by another 800 students or more.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, Worthington is one of the top ten fastest growing school districts in Ohio.

Finally, I’m thankful for the amazing students who attend this school district.  We have students who volunteer their time to help others.  We have students who work daily to solve problems big and small.  We have students in Worthington who challenge us as adults to think differently, to be more culturally sensitive and to increase the rigor of our courses because they demonstrate the capacity to succeed at higher levels.  Our students excel in the arts and in athletics (5 state championships since May) and our students are sure to leave Worthington prepared to Change the World.

There is a great deal to be thankful for in Worthington right now!  I hope you have a great holiday with your loved ones.  

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Vote!

VoteTuesday is voting day!  If you’re like me you’ve enjoyed the lead up to this election much more than our election last year.  If you’re wondering if it’s worth coming out to vote on Tuesday, I’d urge you to do so.  There are several important local items on this ballot and most important to Worthington Schools is our board of education election.

Worthington is a wonderful community that values public education.  I choose to work here and to raise my kids here for that reason.  We’re lucky in Worthington that we have extremely qualified candidates choosing to run for our board of education.

I’ve often wondered what I would think if someone in my own family wanted to run for a board of education  (hypothetically of course as my position precludes this option).  This is a critical role for our community but it’s often one that is thankless, comes with significant conflict, and requires an extreme amount of time.  Not only does our board meet officially two evenings each month but committee meetings, goal setting retreats, and school events in a school district with 19 schools takes an immense commitment.  I would hope that I would encourage my family member to pursue this endeavor but I’m not sure.  This role certainly takes away from time with family and friends.

In Worthington we have six candidates who are qualified and committed to our school district.  Incumbents Jennifer Best, Marc Schare and Sam Shim are running for re-election.  Challengers P.R. Casey, Nikki Hudson and Amy Lloyd are running for seats on the board.  

Board members make decisions on a wide range of issues, such as hiring and evaluating the superintendent and treasurer; setting district policy; planning student services; goal-setting and long-range planning; adopting curriculum; establishing budgets; engaging parents; being good fiscal stewards; acting in the best interest of the school district and within the scope of their legal authority; and creating community relations programs.

The board is a policymaking body and members are the chief advisers to the superintendent on community attitudes. Board members do not manage the day-to-day operations of a school district; they see to it that the system is managed well by professionals.

On Tuesday Worthington will fill three seats on the board of education.  You can learn more about the candidates in this ThisWeek Community News article or by referencing the Columbus Dispatch Voters Guide. Vote!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Doing meaningful work with passion and enthusiasm

IMG_1104At our regular Board of Education meeting last week, the board led by member Marc Schare recognized the organizers of the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run for their time commitment and assistance. The 2017 event attracted over 1,400 elementary students around the district. In addition, the organizers put considerable thought into the course and they made the entire event fun for all. Rick Armstrong – Granby Wellness Teacher, Tyler Hollinger – Granby 6th Grade Teacher, Patti Schlaegel – Granby Principal, Meghan Zink – Granby Parent, Carolyn Rogers – Granby Parent and Jeff Henderson – Fleet Feet were recognized.  But this isn’t really a blog about the Warrior Run itself (although the picture above shows that Board Member Marc Schare not only recognized the event leaders, he himself braved the mud…) I wrote about the event in a post several weeks ago titled “A Uniquely Worthington Event.”  

Recently, local artist Adam Hernandez spent a week at Slate Hill Elementary to work with students and help them create an art piece that they could all form together. Adam came up with the concept for the mural, and every student at Slate Hill got to add their personal touch. Art teacher Jhan Yoder-Wyse championed this idea because to her it’s important to bring artists like Adam into work with Worthington students.

Slate Hill Mural

The Warrior Run and Jhan’s partnership with Adam are examples of people going the extra mile in service to our kids.  What causes someone or a group of someones to go the extra mile to create these types of opportunities and to put in the necessary amount of time and effort?

It’s first clear to me that our team has a passion for helping students see success both in the classroom and outside of the classroom.  We’ve hired well in Worthington and this is ingrained in our staff members.

In 2006, The Ken Blanchard Companies embarked on a new study to explore the concept of employee passion more fully concluding that, for employees to be passionate about their work, they need to have meaningful work – which means they should understand how their work adds value to the organization and creates positive results. They need an organizational culture that encourages collaboration, sharing, interdependence, and team spirit. The work environment needs to be fair – benefits, resources, and workloads must be fair and balanced. They should be given the autonomy to choose how tasks are completed; have the information and authority needed to make authoritative decisions – and know the boundaries of this; and be trusted to do their job without micro-management.

Employee passion is reinforced with recognition – which can be verbal, written or praise – for their accomplishments.  Employees also need to feel connected to their leaders and their colleagues, which requires honesty and integrity at all levels; and making an effort to build rapport.

In Worthington Schools, we will always strive for improvement.  We’ll also always strive to create a culture that allows our staff members to innovate, to find areas of their passion and pursue them in ways that add value to our students and our community.  If we do meaningful work with passion and enthusiasm we’re sure to see positive results.  I think you’ll see examples of this in every Worthington school!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Beginning the 2nd Quarter

CharleyOur weather has felt almost like summer in Worthington lately but we’re officially deep into autumn.  Our fall sports are wrapping up and most teams have completed their seasons or are into tournament play.  Parent-teacher conferences were last week at all of our Worthington Schools and we’re beginning to report student progress.

Do you feel like this school year is going unbelievably fast?  Last Thursday marked the end of the first quarter for our middle school and high school students.  This is an important point for each of us to pause and reflect.  At the high school, quarter grades are not included on official transcripts – just semester grades.  This means that our high school students have reached the halfway point in earning the grades that will be on their transcript.  Some of the questions students should ask themselves include:  Am I where I want to be?  If not, what can I do differently to turn things around?  If you need ideas for how you can improve your grades, we strongly encourage you to meet individually with your teacher.

Our teachers are actively asking the same questions that our students should be asking.  Are we where we want to be with our classes? If we’re not, what do we need to adjust so that the remainder of the school year is as productive as it possibly can be?

As a school district we’re also reflecting on our practice.  Led by our Chief Academic Officer, Angie Adrean, we are beginning an audit of our assessment practices.  W. Edwards Deming told us that if we want different results we must measure and then change our processes to create the results we want.  Over the next several months Angie will lead a collaborative process with a large team of teachers and administrators to review our current assessments and with each determine the congruence and alignment to the standards and our curriculum. In addition, we endeavor to determine how each of the assessments are used and if the intended outcomes are being achieved.  By pausing now to reflect on our practice as a school district we intend to make certain we have an assessment system that is aligned to the outcomes we desire and one that provides the necessary data to make improvements with a minimum amount of disruption to students and their learning.

Today we’re beginning the second quarter of the school year.  It’s a good time for all of us to pause, reflect and make the necessary changes to achieve the results we seek.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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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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