Thinking about middle school

AngieMSWith the passage of Issues 9 and 10, Worthington will shift to 6th – 8th grade middle schools in the fall of 2021.  (That means this year’s third grade students will all go to 6th grade in middle school.)  Thus, we’re thinking a lot about middle school in Worthington and at the same time, middle school is a hot topic in popular culture.  

Variety Magazine writes, “‘Eighth Grade,” Bo Burnham’s captivating drama about a shy but intensely aware girl named Kayla (Elsie Fisher), who’s doing all she can to navigate her final week of middle school, is a movie that’s universal and eternal — one that captures the age-old zone of pimply bashful awkwardness that defines the moment of growing up, the moment when kids are teetering on the fault line between innocence and experience, childish dreaming and social networking, their identities stranded between two worlds.

The beauty of “Eighth Grade” is that it’s highly specific and generational. It’s the first movie to capture, in a major way, the teenage experience of those who have only existed on this planet during the digital era. There are, of course, all sorts of films that portray teenagers glued to their text messages and Instagram posts, plugging into the online stream. What “Eighth Grade” captures is how the omnipresent digital air we breathe has begun to make a profound mark on our social structure and personalities.”

Over time our society and our students have changed and our schools must change with them.  Thus we’ve embarked on a middle school redesign process that is being led by our Chief Academic Officer, Angie Adrean and Director of Secondary Education, Dr. Neil Gupta.  The two have spent the last eight months working with teachers and administrators from all of our four Worthington middle schools. They’ve met with elementary school principals and have met personally with each team of Worthington sixth grade teachers.  They’ve talked with current middle school students and engaged current high school students to find out what they believe is needed in middle school.

Last night, Ms. Adrean and Dr. Gupta updated the Board of Education on their ongoing work to create a middle school learner profile.  They intend to “begin with the end in mind” and determine what we want our middle school students to be able to do when they “graduate” middle school.  By having this foundation, we will design schools and school schedules that are organized to meet the needs of our 6th – 8th graders in 2021 and beyond.  

We’re just getting started on this journey but we’re determined to create middle schools that empower a community of learners who will change the world.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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Happy Thanksgiving Week! I have a task for you….

ThI grew up attending Worthington Hills Elementary School and hung out with a boy my age named Kyle Lucas.  Kyle was tall even in elementary school. He’d go on to play power forward/center on the Worthington High School basketball team and I backed him up at tight end on the high school football team.  Kyle now lives in Dublin and is the President of Capitol Tunneling.  

A few weeks ago Kyle’s mother’s home in Powell caught fire and the home was a total loss.  Thankfully there were no injuries. I’m a member of the Dublin-Worthington Rotary Club and sadly, last week club member B.J. Stone tragically passed away in a house fire in her Muirfield home.  With this happening so close together, fire safety is at the forefront of my mind this holiday season.

As we’ve reached Thanksgiving week, one of my goals is to replace all of the smoke alarms in our house (my other goal is to finally attend to the ridiculous number of leaves I have ignored covering my yard).  We’ve been in our house now for 14 years and I installed smoke alarms at that time. Some years I remember to change the batteries at daylight savings time and some years I likely haven’t. Either way, most smoke alarms are only good for 10 years and they’re not the kind of thing most of us think much about once we’ve installed them.  Sadly, these two incidents remind me that I need to attend to our smoke alarms and I also need to replace the fire extinguisher we keep under the kitchen sink.

This Thanksgiving week we all have a great deal to be thankful for in Worthington.  I hope you enjoy time with friends and family. I hope Ohio State can beat Michigan and I look forward to seeing holiday lights spring up throughout town.  Thank you for trusting the children of Worthington to Worthington Schools. We’re glad you’re here!

With everything else going on this week, I have a task for all of you.  Please take a minute to check your smoke alarms and replace them if necessary.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Issues 9 & 10

45509182_1305513939591216_601749798915145728_nI’m pleased to inform you that voters approved both Issues 9 and 10 for Worthington Schools. These issues will enable our schools to keep up with growing student enrollment and will maintain the programs we all value in our schools.

The bond issue will provide funds to repair and expand our middle schools, as well as provide important funding to make improvements to other school buildings, replace technology, and buy new buses. The operating issue will maintain current operations and programs in our schools as our enrollment continues to increase.   

Our success would not be possible without the help of many parents, community members and staff. These volunteers worked tirelessly to get factual information into the hands of voters over the last few months.  

We will now begin to implement Phase 1 of our master facilities plan, which includes expansion and repairs to our middle schools, beginning the design process on Thomas Worthington High School renovations, and shifting an elementary school feeder to Worthington Kilbourne High School to balance enrollment.  Our plan is to make sure the community remains involved in this process as we plan for the future of our schools. Over the next few months you should look for communication from the district on specific information relating to timelines and processes for these changes to occur.

We greatly appreciate the support of our community and will continue to focus on our mission to empower a community of learners who will change the world!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Please Vote!

VoteI spent Sunday afternoon at the Franklin County Early Voting site on Morse Road.  It was truly an amazing experience. The line for voting stretched out the door and around the block.  It reminded me of the line for Space Mountain at Disney World over spring break without a Fast Pass.

There was a band playing music.  People passed out flyers for various issues, there were “donuts for Democrats,” and many of the local judge candidates were available to talk with you in person.  It was inspiring to see people of every race, nationality, and political view coming together to exercise their civic right to vote.

Today the polls will be open throughout Worthington Schools.  Voting will occur in our schools at Worthington Kilbourne High School, Thomas Worthington High School, Phoenix Middle School, Sutter Park Pre-School and at the Worthington Education Center. Polls are open from 6:30 A.M. – 7:30 P.M.  (Worthington Schools will be open today and on a regular schedule except for Sutter Park Pre-School which closes for elections.)

Please vote.  Please remind your neighbors to vote.  Please offer to drive your neighbors to the polls so they can vote or even to watch their children for an hour so a parent can go vote (and maybe sneak in a trip by themselves to Starbucks…)  We’re incredibly lucky to live in a country where our vote counts!

Obviously, Worthington Schools is on the ballot for Issues 9 & 10.  I’m thankful for the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who worked hard to explain the issues to our community.  We’ve held over 100 meetings in homes, schools, churches, community buildings, etc. We’ve made phone calls, knocked on doors and mailed information.  Everywhere we have gone it’s clear to me that Worthington supports our children and overwhelmingly our community wants this next generation of children to continue to have a breadth of opportunities.  I walk away knowing how blessed we are to live and raise our children in this community.

If you still are looking for information regarding Issues 9 & 10, please check out the Issues 9 & 10 site.   

Today is voting day!  Please vote!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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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

 

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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
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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

 

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