July 22, 2014

Elyria
Clear
81°F
test

State of Elyria Schools: Scores up, spirit up, revenue down, facilities OK

ELYRIA — The state of Elyria Schools is good, but change is coming, said Superintendent Paul Rigda.

Elyria Schools Superintendent Paul Rigda presents his State of the Schools address on Wednesday. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

Change does not necessarily mean bad, but Rigda told administrators, teachers and community members Wednesday evening that Elyria Schools is poised to usher in several changes in the coming year as it moves toward incorporating more national common-core standards, assessing more students online and adding more technology to daily instruction. He delivered the district’s State of the Schools report several months after he typically does, but said he chose to wait until he could handle a $3 million cost-reduction plan.

He summed it up with four key points.

“Academics are up, revenue is down, the community climate is positive, and our facilities are holding steady,” he said.

The annual addresses often give Rigda a chance to let the district know what’s on the horizon. It has been well publicized this year that Elyria Schools enjoyed its best state report card — reaching 17 of 26 academic performance indicators and watching several schools earn the designation of excellent or excellent with distinction.

However, Rigda warned that state officials are estimating that district testing numbers will likely take a steep dip once common-core standards and coordinating assessment come into play.

“Basically, language and mathematics are changing,” he said. “There will be a new way of teaching those subjects, but it won’t be too far off from how we have been teaching now, so hopefully our test scores won’t tank as much as the state keeps saying will happen.”

In anticipation, Rigda said the district is ramping up the technology in the district. And he’s not just talking about the 3,000 computers scattered across the many schools.

Fifth-graders at Ely Elementary School are piloting a “Bring Your Own Device” program, where they will be able to use Kindles, iPads and laptops in the classroom and teachers will design lessons around the devices.

Schoology software will give teachers the option of creating virtual classrooms, and apps will be introduced to students to give them access to e-books.

“We are becoming a district where anyone can learn on anything, anywhere and at anytime,” said Charles Rudd, during a short video highlighting the district’s 21st-century learning initiatives.

Fiscally speaking, Treasurer Fred Stephens said the district’s $3 million reduction plan and the proposed education funding plan of Gov. John Kasich has put Elyria on track to have several million dollars in carryover until at least 2017.

If current funding strategies hold true and community members pass three upcoming levy renewals, Stephens said the district should be in good shape.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.