46 Years of Service

keithLast week our Information Technology Director Keith Schlarb announced to his team that he planned to retire in December of 2020.  Throughout Central Ohio school district technology directors come and go. In Worthington that hasn’t been the case.

Will Hoge sings a song that Chevrolet used in their commercials to advertise their Chevy Silverado trucks.  The song is titled “Strong” and it often reminds me of our Information Technology Director, Keith Schlarb.

“He’s a twenty year straight get to work on time

He’s a love one woman for all his life…

He’ll pick you up and won’t let you down

Rock solid inside out

Somebody you can trust

Steady as the sun

Ain’t nothing gonna knock him off the road he’s rollin on

He’s strong”

The lyrics are only half right.  Keith is not a 20 year Worthington employee, he’s a 46 year Worthington employee, and he’s the only IT Director Worthington Schools has ever had, or needed.  Around the fall of 1973 Keith began his career in Worthington as a science teacher at the middle school. Today, most everything in Worthington, both operationally, and with instruction, runs through Keith’s office.

Keith grew up on an eastern Ohio farm and it shows in his approach to work.  Keith works! He’s incredibly steady and consistent. Every day he shows up and puts in 10-12 hours.  He’s here every Saturday and most Sunday’s. He’s quiet in his approach (not so quiet behind closed doors), he rarely complains, he just works.  He is a process person and has incredible project management skills. With Keith the details are always taken care of.

Keith’s no frills approach to work, and life, can be seen throughout the school district in our approach to technology.  Keith wants to do things right. He isn’t swayed by the newest and greatest technology. He pushes me every day to be able to articulate what difference a particular piece of technology will make to student learning and how if it is purchased it will change classroom practice.  At the same time he’s striving to make certain that his department can provide the support that will be needed for the technology.

It’s not easy being a technology director in a large school district today.  Technology is changing faster than we can keep up with. Our teachers and students all want personalized tools to do the things that they want to do, and the State of Ohio has ideas for how technology and assessment should be married.

Because of these immense challenges, sometimes Keith is under appreciated.  He certainly won’t self-promote and likely, he won’t even tell you about the hundreds of things his department does every day.  That’s just not Keith. What I appreciate about Keith is that he’s steady and he’s strong, and he just works hard. He may not always do what I think he should, but no one works as hard, and works more consistently, to try and do the best job possible.  I’m thankful for a person who has given 46 years of service to Worthington!  

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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What is EdChoice?

PublicAt our January 6th Worthington Board of Education meeting, the board passed a resolution by a vote of 5-0 to oppose Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship (voucher) Program.  Based on current State of Ohio EdChoice law students who attend Evening Street, Slate Hill and Worthington Hills would be eligible to access a voucher.  

There has been a significant amount of news coverage regarding this voucher program.  But it’s confusing at the very least. Reynoldsburg Schools created the following summary that I believe is worth sharing so you have a better understanding of the issue.

What is EdChoice?

The state of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship, or voucher program, began as a way to provide options for students whose local public schools were considered to be “failing” or “underperforming” by the state. However, the program has expanded to include students attending, not only passing, but thriving public schools.

There are two parts to the EdChoice program:

  • The EdChoice Expansion program provides a state-paid voucher for students whose family income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. They can use this money to attend a private school regardless of their public school’s performance. 
  • The EdChoice Scholarship provides a voucher for students whose public school is considered a “failing school” by the state. This voucher is paid for by the local public school district.

Ohio went from fewer than 300 school buildings eligible for vouchers in the 2018-19 school year to more than 1,200 buildings for the 2020-21 school year. That’s a 300% increase in two years.

Students entering kindergarten or high school do not need to have ever been a student in the public school district to qualify for an EdChoice scholarship, so long as their assigned public school is on the EdChoice list.

What is the latest development in EdChoice legislation?

The EdChoice application status has been temporarily delayed for 60 days. You can read more about the delay and about EdChoice in this article in the Columbus Dispatch.

What is the amount of the EdChoice Scholarship?

$4,650 for students in grades K-8 and $6,000 for grades 9-12 for the 2020-21 school year.

How are EdChoice Scholarship vouchers funded?

This is not a solely state-funded program. The money used to pay for the vouchers comes partly from local property taxes. The public school district must pay the scholarship amounts for as long as the student remains in private school – even if the public school is removed from the EdChoice list.

Additionally, once a student receives a voucher, the public school is responsible for paying the voucher every year, even if the report card improves. This can be at a cost of more than $65,000 to the public school district over the course of a student’s academic career.

What criteria is used to determine this designation?

The Ohio Department of Education uses data from the Ohio School Report Card from 2013-14, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to designate a school as “underperforming”.  A school building is determined eligible for EdChoice if they meet one or more of the following conditions during two of three reported years:

  • Performance – If any of the following is true for two (2) report cards from 2014, 2018 and 2019: The school received a Performance Index grade of D or F and a Value-Added (overall) grade of D or F on the 2014 report card or the school received an overall grade of D or F or a Value-Added (overall) grade of F on the 2018 or 2019 report card.
  • Graduation – The school serves grades 9-12 and received a Graduation Rate grade of D or F on any two report cards from 2014, 2018 and 2019.
  • Lowest 10% – The school(s) ranked in the lowest 10 percent of public school buildings on the Performance Index on the Ohio School Report Cards for any two Performance Index rankings from 2014, 2018 and 2019; the school did not receive an overall grade of A or B on the 2019 report card.
  • Literacy – The school received a grade of D or F for Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers on any two report cards from 2014, 2018 and 2019.
  • District Performance – No districts are eligible under this criterion.
  • Academic Distress – The school’s public district has an academic distress commission.

How are private/parochial schools graded by the State?

They’re not. Private schools are not held to the same accountability as public schools. Their students are not subjected to the same state testing as public school students, even though they are receiving public funds.

According to data collected by the Ohio Department of Education, as well as a study performed by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, voucher students in private schools performed worse than their public counterparts in reading and math.

Are private/parochial schools required to accept all students who are eligible for the EdChoice Scholarship?

No. Private/parochial schools are able to be selective with their enrollment process while public schools accept all students.

What are the next steps?

Right now, legislation goes into effect April 1, 2020. To advocate for public education, continue to contact your legislators throughout the next 60 days. Thank you in advance for your help!

Franklin County:

Adam Miller (D)

77 S. High St

10th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 644-6005

Fax      (614) 719-6963

Kristin Boggs (D)

77 S. High St

14th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 466-1896

Fax      (614) 719-6964

Mary Lightbody (D)

77 S. High St

10th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 466-4847

Fax      (614) 719-6958

Richard Brown (D)

77 S. High St

10th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 644-6002

Fax      (614) 719-6959

Beth Liston (D)

77 S. High St

10th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 644-6030

Fax      (614) 719-6960

David Leeland (D)

77 S. High St

10th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 466-2473

Fax      (614) 719-6961

Laura Lanese (R)

77 S. High St

14th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 466-9690

Fax      (614) 719-6962

Allison Russo (D)

77 S. High St

10th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 466-8012

Fax      (614) 719-0007

Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D)

77 S. High St

10th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 466-5343

Fax      (614) 719-3581

Erica C. Crawley (D)

77 S. High St

11th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 466-8010

Fax      (614) 719-3580

Larry Householder (R)

77 S. High St

14th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone (614) 466-2500

Fax      (614) 719-6991

Senators:

Tina Maharath (D)

Senate Building

1 Capitol Square

Ground Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 466-8064

Hearcel F. Craig (D)

Senate Building

1 Capitol Square

Ground Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 466-5131

Stephanie Kunze (R)

Senate Building

1 Capitol Square

1st Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 466-5981

Our representatives in Worthington (Rep. Liston and Rep. Leeland and Sen. Kunze) all understand this issue and have advocated for a change.  They have been very receptive to our concerns. But with an April 1st deadline looming we’d advocate for a more permanent solution.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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It’s February!

BlueSkyI recently heard someone say that “January is the Monday of months.”  The fun of the holiday season is over and it’s back to reality. Many of us are attempting to lose a few extra unwanted pounds and the weather in central Ohio can cause some negative seasonal affect disorder.  In the midst of our perpetual grey last week I found myself thinking, “How in the world can it still be January? This has felt like the longest month ever!”

Good news!  It’s February, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and Super Bowl Sunday dawned in Worthington with bright sunshine and 50 degree temperatures.  My neighbors were out walking the dog yesterday and the boys next door were playing with sticks while wearing only their shorts and t-shirts. In Worthington Schools February means the end of most of our Winter Sports. Middle School sports are into their tournaments and high school sports will soon follow. The Spring seasons actually kick-off officially before the end of this month.  Winter Percussion is into competition season and our FirstRobotics WorBots 4145 team will soon follow. High school students are actively scheduling classes for next school year and our graduation day is within site for our seniors.

This is a big month!  It’s Black History Month and many of our schools will hold student assemblies and parent events.  Thomas Worthington will host National Women in Sports Day on February 5th with author Kate Fagan speaking that evening.  Our annual Worthington Schools Science Day is scheduled at Thomas Worthington High School on February 15th. Hundreds and hundreds of students will gather to participate and compete in Science activities. 

On Wednesday, February 26th we’re hosting the 2020 State of the Schools evening at Worthington Kilbourne High School.  We’ll have multiple student performances, highlight the successes of individual students and discuss some of our program offerings.  We’ll talk about the financial and academic health of the district and share plans for the future. Plus, we’ll have cookies! All of that from 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.  Please add this event to your calendar!

StateoftheSchools_EmailPromov2B

Let’s make February 2020 a great month in Worthington Schools!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Enjoy the ride!

download (1)About 768 miles per hour – that’s how fast you have to go to outrun sound itself.  Modern planes can do it pretty easily. Around World War II, though, scientists and engineers thought Mach speeds might be impossible in manned aircraft.  Their hesitance had everything to do with what happened at 767 miles per hour. Just before a plane breaks the sound barrier, all the created energy is pushing against the plane.  Think of riding an old, rickety roller coaster in midair – all the shaking, jerking, and rattling made more than a few pilots throttle back.

In Worthington right now we’re moving through a significant change process and this creates real turbulence for staff members and families.  Whether it’s adding 20 modular classrooms to school sites over the last several years or the construction of new middle schools in progress in all four corners of the school district, there is concern.  It may be the future planning for Thomas Worthington that creates concern about how the new space impacts neighbors’ properties or how we may utilize the Harding Hospital site and what that means for the current Colonial Hills site.  For several affected groups the changing of feeder patterns to middle and/or high school has raised fears. For others, the change creating concern is how we teach reading or math or even how we view gender. These are real and ongoing challenges for a growing, evolving, and forward-thinking organization.  

The shaking, jerking, and rattling that we feel from the turbulence reminds us that we’re moving forward and at some point in each change process we will have the necessary breakthrough. If there is anything to fear, often it’s pulling back and not pressing forward.  That fear of change and/or failure often keeps us from what’s possible.

We’re at 767 miles per hour on several change initiatives. Many of us are experiencing turbulence.  Our plan is not to back off but to throw the throttle down and keep moving forward. Enjoy the ride!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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An everyday for me is a meaningful day for someone else… 

81476395_3494673463906618_8731189559489986560_oOne of our overarching goals for Worthington Schools is to create a culture of empathy and support.  In so doing we want to be inclusive of all of our students. Increasingly Worthington is a global school district.

1493 WCS Students live in homes where they hear 59 unique languages 

Top 5 Languages: 

Spanish 547 students

Arabic 189

Portuguese 80

Somali 59

Chinese 52

684 WCS students were born outside the USA, in 90 different countries.  

Top 5 Non-US Countries:

India 87 students

Brazil 49

Ghana 42

Mexico 40

Iraq 35

Since the end of the 2018-19 school year, WCS has welcomed 253 students who live in homes where languages other than English are spoken.  

Since the first day of the 2019-20 school year, WCS has welcomed 69 students who live in homes where languages other than English are spoken  

To kick-off 2020 we are excited to provide our schools with a holiday calendar that highlights OUR students.  Angie Adrean, Ben Rule and Raul Arias worked to put this together and it’s really special.  Here’s their explanation:

In this calendar, we’re excited for you to meet 34 students who will share a brief personal reflection about some days that are especially meaningful in their families and home communities.  Our desire is that you will not only hear their words and admire their pictures, but that this calendar will serve as a simple starting point for a few reflections:

An everyday for me is a meaningful day for someone else…  

For a colleague or student, today may be a day when they are feeling joyfully eager for a celebration that awaits at home, feeling reflective about a sacred moment in their faith, or feeling wistful and homesick for what this day looked like in another time and place.  What is happening in their day that matters deeply but that I can’t see?

I can learn so much from the people around me…  

Our students and families and coworkers are experts on their own stories.  They have a lifetime of experience and can teach us about a tradition, a part of the world, an ancient faith, an enlightening perspective, an unfamiliar community value, a new way to learn, or how to persevere through a struggle.  How can I grow simply by asking a question and then listening carefully?

The world is even bigger than I thought…     

From the brilliant colors of Holi, to the quiet discipline of a Ramadan fast, to the musical street dancing of Christmas in Chad, there are endless horizons that many of our students have already seen and that others dream of one day reaching.  Through every experience of reading, writing, problem solving, inquiry, critical thinking, creating, and collaborating, we can open doors for our students to engage and venture further than they ever thought possible. How can I bring this big and brilliant world into my classroom, and my classroom into this world?

We wish you a wonderful year of intentional learning, thoughtful listening, and growing by understanding each other!     

Check out the calendar here

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Sometimes Plans Change

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.We’re still in the beginning of 2020.  It’s a new semester for our middle school and high school students and we have big plans for the new year.

Right before Christmas, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  To do so we planned a quick get-a-way to Captiva Island for just the two of us. Many of you know that Captiva is off the northern tip of Sanibel Island bordering the Gulf of Mexico in the Ft. Myers, Cape Coral area of SW Florida.  Because Captiva is a north/south Island the beach faces directly west and thus it has some of the best sunsets anywhere in the world. As a kid, we vacationed in the Ft. Myers area and 21 years ago my parents purchased a condo in Ft. Myers where they spend 7 months of each year (they left Columbus January 2nd to head south).  My wife and I have made probably 30-40 trips to the area over the years but we had never actually stayed on Captiva.

We booked a beachfront room at a place on Captiva called Tween Waters.  It’s on a strip of land maybe 200 yards wide with the beach to the west and the bay to the east.  We pictured waking up and walking on the beach with our morning coffee, kayaking in the bay during the day and watching the sunset from the Mucky Duck while playing endless games of ring toss.  It was a nice picture.

Unfortunately the four days we booked in Captiva happened to be cold, gray, rainy and with high winds.  We arrived for our first evening in time for sunset. We instead saw gray clouds with a hint of pink somewhere behind the clouds.  When we awoke on day two the palm trees were blowing sideways on the beach and my weather app told me that winds were 25 mph. That same app showed me that those winds would continue at 20-25 mph for the next few days.  Walking on the beach was out in those winds. So was kayaking. The rain was coming.  

This wasn’t going as planned.  We called an audible. We checked out of the Tween Waters and moved inland to my parents’ condo.  The weather was still bad but we had a free place to stay. We had blankets to sit under as we watched The Morning Show on Apple + and we had restaurants that we enjoy nearby.  We had a great few days. It was a different few days than we had envisioned but in the end, we enjoyed our time relaxing at a place that is important in our family history.

As we begin 2020 we inevitably have big plans.  My guess is that some of those plans will come to fruition and for some of those plans we’ll need to call an audible.  Either way that will be O.K. Sometimes our best-laid plans fall apart and things are really good anyway.  

Enjoy 2020!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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What’s that car doing there?

img_1853.jpgYou may have seen the incredibly wrecked car that is sitting at the entrance to the student parking lot at Thomas Worthington High School between the stadium and the Worthington Pools complex.  Several people have reached out to ask me what happened and why the car is there. Here’s the story:

In early December, two Thomas Worthington students were in a one car accident on Shrock Road.  These are two fine young men who I have known since they were in elementary school. My understanding is that the boys were driving at a rate of speed exceeding the posted speed limit and that because of that rate of speed when they hit a pothole in the road they lost control of the car.  The car flipped and as you can see in the picture hit a tree.

My understanding is that both boys were wearing their seatbelt and thus miraculously they not only survived the accident but did so without any life threatening injuries.  (Both boys were injured and will need to recover.)  

A family in the district reached out to TWHS Principal Pete Scully and asked if he purchased the car if we would be willing to display it for a while as a warning to other students to drive safely.  We wanted to make sure the families of the boys agreed with that before we proceeded but when they gave their permission we signed off on the idea.

Thus, the car sits at the entrance to the parking lot as a reminder to drive carefully.  When the teenage driver in my own home saw it yesterday for the first time she didn’t like that it was there.  She shared that she felt like it would bring up unnecessary trauma for those who are close to the students who were in the accident and she felt like adults drive as poorly as high school students do.  I think that both of her perspectives are valid and fair.

From my perspective when we’re young we’re more prone to think we’re invincible and drive as such.  Conversely, as we age we’re prone to irrational anxieties and fears. Like most everything in life if we could only find the balance.

You can drive very safely and carefully and still be in a serious car accident.  Not everything is in our control. But this accident is a good reminder to our students and all of us in the community that we need to take our time, drive as carefully as possible and wear our seatbelts.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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