Olentangy Local Schools has shared the following look at issues discussed and decisions made during their Board of Education meeting held on August 24:
BOARD PRESIDENT’S REPORT
In advance of the Safety and Security presentation, Board President Kevin O’Brien emphasized the importance of the District’s investment in both physical security measures in school buildings and in essential resources and experienced personnel for long-term security planning.
SAFETY AND SECURITY UPDATE
Director of Safety, Security, and Preparedness Joe Suozzi was joined by Delaware County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) Chief Wiseman to present on Olentangy’s safety and security plans. Mr. Suozzi began by highlighting the many associations that partner with the district for the safety of our schools, including the Delaware County Criminal Justice Association, the Delaware County Fire Chiefs Association, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Safe Teen Drivers Parent Task Force, and more.
Mr. Suozzi updated the board that, since the Olentangy High School swatting hoax last spring, the FBI Cincinnati Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) positively identified a Romanian Juvenile who was responsible for approximately 200-300 hoax calls across the United States from January through June 2023. Olentangy and the DCSO worked together to provide the phone number of the caller to the FBI, and their investigation identified the individual and used overseas foreign law enforcement partners to effectively disrupt this individual’s hoax threat activity to the United States.
Recent grant funding has paid for the addition of entrance bollards at the schools, classroom phones can now dial out 9-1-1, replaced outdated PA systems, and added access control keycard panels.
Olentangy’s New Teacher Academy includes active aggressor training administered by School Resource Officers (SRO). This year, 183 new staff members learned how to respond if there is an attack inside a building.
Looking ahead to the future, Olentangy will add three SROs this fall to allow for a dedicated SRO at every middle school and high school. Mr. Suozzi is beginning the process of adding a security specialist/liaison role at each elementary school.
STAFF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Curriculum and Instruction Director Vince DeTillio described the district curriculum team’s role as a support for the Olentangy staff in facilitating maximum learning for every student. They accomplish this through designing and administering professional learning, leading curriculum development, identifying and promoting instructional resources, training and modeling effective implementation, and supporting instructional leadership.
Nichole Crothers, Assistant Director of Professional Learning, shared that professional development for the 2023-24 school year will focus on recommitting to our mission this year and examining what learning looks like for students today. These lessons will draw from our Portrait of a Learner dispositions of Purposeful, Resilience, Curious, and Kind, combined with the Olentangy Foundations of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and context. The curriculum team administers professional development to staff through three professional development days, three curriculum building visits, two day-long conferences (Think Tank and Elevate), the Olentangy Professional Learning Academy, and supporting building-level collaboration.
Assistant Director Mindy Schultz reported on elementary math and literacy curriculum. During the 2022-23 school year, House Bill 436, also known as the dyslexia law, came into effect and set expectations and requirements for teacher professional development and the screening and intervention for students with dyslexia. Mrs. Schultz reported that, as of this August, all kindergarten and first-grade teachers, K-5 English Language teachers, and Intervention Specialists that support these grades have completed the required structured literacy professional development. The next phase of structured literacy professional development will be for second and third-grade teachers, Gifted Specialists, Intervention Specialists that support these grades, and any new teachers to the district.
Math Specialists have had a significant impact in our elementary and middle schools by leading professional development, individually supporting students, and leading the adoption of the first phase of the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum (grades K-5), which includes Number Corner and Bridges Intervention. Number Corner is an inquiry-based skills program, focused on developing mathematical reasoning, problem-solving, number sense, and procedural fluency. Bridges Intervention develops students’ math skills in small-group settings, uses visual models, improves fluency, and utilizes progress monitoring.
Another resource that is now in every K-2 Olentangy classroom are Geodes. Geodes are decodable texts that reinforce students’ phonetic knowledge, build strong content knowledge, and acquire vocabulary skills.
Assistant Director Kristin Bourdage presented curriculum projects at the secondary level. Two new high school courses, Data Science Foundations and Discrete Math/Computer Science have been added as they prepare students for innovative college pathways and careers. Data Science Foundations began in 2021, and there are now over 280 students enrolled in 14 courses across the high schools, while Discrete Math/Computer Science is still in the “pilot” phase with five sections.
Dr. Bourdage convenes with teachers to update, develop, design, adapt, and modify curriculum to make it more consistent and ensure mastery of learning. The literature selection review process is one result of this curriculum revision work, which was overhauled in 2022 to become a communication tool with families on the literature selected for classes. Dr. Bourdage will continue to update new teachers, administrators, and department chairs on the process.
Superintendent Todd R. Meyer highlighted many of the back-to-school events and moments from the past few weeks – from the opening of Berlin Middle School to Staff Convocation, to elementary open houses, to the first day of school, and Parent Technology Night.
One action item Mr. Meyer addressed is the purchase of 89.93 acres of land in the northwest quadrant of the district. In 2004, Olentangy Schools purchased 49.7 acres of land near Bunty Station Road and Sawmill Parkway. The additional 89.93 acres are adjacent to the current district-owned property and allow for the potential addition of an elementary, middle, and high school as our district continues to grow.
Treasurer Ryan Jenkins has been in Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC) meetings to review tax abatements granted as part of economic development agreements with representatives from the various townships and cities. Each TIRC council makes recommendations to its respective legislative authority as to whether the owner of the exempted property has complied with the agreement as measured by jobs created, new payroll, public infrastructure projects completed, and more.
Mr. Jenkins met with Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa to discuss millage strategies and debt-service requirements. One opportunity discussed is that, if property values increase as much as the auditor is projecting, around 35%, the District will be able to roll back a full mill of debt service to the Olentangy taxpayers. Additionally, a future bond issue, if passed by voters, would not increase the millage rate needed to pay debt service.
The livestream of the Olentangy Schools Board of Education meeting on August 24, 2023 is available on the Board Meeting livestream web page. The Board of Education 2023 meeting schedule has been added to the district website and the next regular meeting will be at the Olentangy Administrative Offices on Thursday, September 7 at 6:30pm. All meeting information and records are posted to the Board Meeting Records web page.
Source: Olentangy Local Schools