Dear West Geauga Parent/Guardian:
With the arrival of August, the start of school is fast approaching. As superintendent, I keep staff members updated throughout summer break about what is happening in our district. I would like to do similarly for you at this point. As most of you probably know, the Board of Education Office remains open throughout June, July, and August to prepare for the next school year.
We have all of our administrative and teaching staff in place for 2016-2017. We still have a couple support staff positions that need to be filled prior to the start of school. We have two new elementary principals who have been doing much to prepare their schools for the return of students and staff. We hired a new school psychologist to replace one who retired and added an elementary school library media specialist. We hired a new half-time Business teacher at West Geauga High School to replace one who resigned. Kindergarten enrollment necessitated the addition of a sixth kindergarten classroom and enabled us to recall a teacher from last year’s Reduction in Force (RIF) list. In fact, through the creation of some new teaching positions, the filling of long-term leaves of absence, and securing teaching jobs in other school districts, all but one of our teachers on last year’s RIF list have full-time employment for the upcoming school year. That one person has a part-time teaching assignment with West G.
It is important that you remember that a change in the school calendar makes Monday, August 22, 2016 the first day of school for students. Initially, students were scheduled to return earlier, but the creation of three additional professional development days for staff resulted in a change in the students’ school year. This is the first year in many that professional development is being provided for all staff, not just for teachers. We will be addressing a number of important topics. One is student achievement. Others include school safety, conversion to a new student information management system, and the sharing of district goals and action plans for 2016-2017.
This will be a busy year for West Geauga Schools. You will see much attention being placed on our academic offerings. Student achievement within a well-rounded comprehensive curriculum will be a frequent topic of discussion. Our preliminary district report card scores from the last school year indicate some encouraging gains, particularly in our elementary grades.
Of continuing importance to the West Geauga Board of Education will be the topic of declining district enrollment. It will be explored in the context of Open Enrollment, possible district consolidation, and grade leveled elementary buildings. Because all of these topics are intertwined, the Board’s decisions related to one could affect its actions related to the others. Please know that the Board intends to be very thorough and very public in its consideration of each of these matters.
Watch for some new communication channels in the upcoming school year. We will produce a newsletter for distribution to West Geauga residents. Hopefully, this will be a quarterly publication. Except for the first issue, we hope to have advertisers offset the cost of printing and postage. It is anticipated that business students from West Geauga High School will play an important role in securing and designing such advertisements while developing associated marketing skills. The newsletter will be merely one means, in addition to our website, emails, social media, and area newspapers, of getting important school information into the hands of our residents.
When students return to school in a few weeks, they will find that many of our restrooms have undergone renovation over the summer months. These changes are the first of a district-wide initiative to upgrade all restroom facilities. In addition, many of the elementary classrooms will have new sinks. I realize that new bathroom fixtures, tile, ceilings, and lighting are not particularly exciting topics of discussion, but they are seriously needed.
It is difficult to capture in a short letter the many positive developments underway in West Geauga Schools. The quality of our students and the commitment of our staff afford so many opportunities. As the new school year unfolds, you will see some of the results of our efforts thus far. Thanks, in advance, for your continued support of our students and staff!
Rich Markwardt, PhD