November 28, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria superintendent to deliver States of Schools address via newsletter

The Elyria State of the Schools address will be delivered to residents' homes in newsletter form next week. The entire newsletter can be viewed below.

The Elyria State of the Schools address will be delivered to residents’ homes in newsletter form next week. The entire newsletter can be viewed below.

ELYRIA — Superintendent Paul Rigda has taken his annual State of the Schools address on the road many times, but this time around his assessment of how the Elyria school district is doing will come to Elyrians in a format they can hold.

The Pioneer Press, the district’s newsletter, will be sent to 25,000 households next week as a special edition and serve as Rigda’s State of the Schools address.

Unconventional in its delivery, Rigda said this approach could be the best yet.

“No matter what we try to do — and we have tried so many different ways to reach people, including Rotary meetings and before board meetings — we have only been able to reach a small fraction of the all of the people who cast votes for us and support us,” Rigda said. “There are so many more people than those who come to board meetings who need to know what we are doing to educate Elyria students.”

For weeks, the highlight news of the district has been five years of fiscal health. The successful passage of May’s property tax renewal means at the current level of expenditures, revenue, levies and state funding, the cash balance for the district should stay between $5 million and $9 million until 2018.

At least for the time being, the district is out of the cost reduction and levy cycle that it has faced for the past few years.

There is more good news, Rigda said.

“High-stakes testing, the third-grade reading guarantee and how to use technology in education are all important topics,” he said.

Rigda is joined in the newsletter by several of the district’s cabinet members, who offer insight on their respective fields.

Amy Keir, a content area specialist, spells out how Common Core is changing classroom curriculum.

“The standards give uniformity to the skills and knowledge we teach to prepare students for college and careers after high school,” Keir said. “Organized in a stair-step fashion, these standards assure that at each grade level, teachers teach and students build their skills for their future.”

State leaders aren’t measuring only student performance in the classroom — they’re measuring teacher success, too, said Gary Taylor, director of human resources.

“Ohio’s new approach to evaluating teachers, dubbed the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, or OTES, now involves a twist,” he said. “It relies on a familiar method of tracking teaching methods and instructional content, but it also relies on student data — tracking students at two points during their studies to provide a comparative snapshot of their academic growth.”

And students who attend Crestwood Elementary School or Westwood Middle School and live in neighborhoods that have access to continuous sidewalks will no longer ride a bus to school in the 2014-15 school year.

Readers who want information beyond the upcoming Pioneer Press are invited to the 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6 board meeting. Rigda said time will be set aside for community dialogue.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.