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Ironton superintendent outlines success, plans

 

The Ironton City Schools continue to show “increased academic achievement, improved facilities and a balanced budget,” Superintendent Dean Nance told the school board and others Tuesday evening.

In his first formal State of the Schools address, Nance outlined “Where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to go in the future” in terms of academics, finances and facilities improvements.

His address got a thumbs up from board member Dr. A. Burton Payne.

“I think he covered it well,” Payne said. “We’ve been talking about the (district’s) strategic plan and I think he pretty well gave us one.”

 

Academics

Nance said the district’s state report card continues to show improvement, with the district meeting 21 of 26 indicators, or state requirements, and achieving a performance index score of 93.4 on the 2010-2011 state report card.

He contrasted that with the 2007-2008 school year when the district met only 19 of 30 indicators and had performance index of 90. He also pointed out that in the 2006-2007 school year only 12 percent of Ironton students scored in the top tier of the state’s testing, the advanced category. In 2010-2011 that figure had increased to 16.9 percent.

Nance attributed the improved scores to “a change in culture, teachers doing things differently, students doing things differently.”

 

Enrollment

Nance said the enrollment figures are also encouraging.

Last year 1,519 students were enrolled in Ironton City Schools. In spite of a decline in the area’s population, Nance’s figures show the city schools’ student population has grown by double digits each year since the 2008-2009 school year.

“This is students wanting to come and be a part of what’s happening in our district,” Nance said.

The superintendent said he expects even more growth this year as good students from other districts take advantage of open enrollment and some of the offerings the city schools offer, such as band and drama.

 

Finances

Nance said state funds continue to dwindle per pupil at a time when the district is seeing an increase in student enrollment and test scores.

The district has managed, he said, to cut expenses from $14.1 million in the 2007-2008 school year to $13.8 million in the 2010-2011 school year. Nance said the district has managed to end the 2011-2012 year under budget by 3.4 percent. Much of this has been accomplished through attrition. As employees retired or left to take other jobs, they were not replaced.

 

Academic goals

Nance said in the coming school year, the district plans to implement Marzano’s Instructional Framework, implement Saxon Math in second and fifth grades and implement Ohio core content standards.

“We know we’re low in certain areas,” Nance said, noting the lag in fifth grade math scores on the state report card. “We’re doing what we can to change this.”

He said the district also plans to achieve all indicators on the state report card and be ranked as excellent by the state.

In the 2013-2014 school year, Nance said the district plans to implement a new teacher and principal evaluation system, adopt a math curriculum, refine the Ohio core curriculum, continue to meet all the indicators on the state report card and continue to be rated excellent.

Looking ahead to the 2014-2015 school year, Nance said he wants to continue the improvements made in the previous school years and adopt a science curriculum.

As for finances, Nance said the goal for the coming school year and all years following is to have revenues that exceed expenditures, build a two-month reserve in the general fund and increase staff pay.

 

Facilities goals

In the coming year, Nance said the district has plans to update the district’s computers and laptops, implement a preventive maintenance program, perform an energy study to determine how to operate facilities more effectively and provide training to the district’s maintenance and custodial staff.

These goals would continue in the next two school years.

In the coming school years, Nance said there are also plans to resurface the track, replace the ramp under Tanks Memorial Stadium, install a new scoreboard at Tanks, inspect and repair bleachers, replace the roof on the Conley Center, upgrade electrical service and repair and install lighting in and around Tanks Memorial Stadium and install additional drains on the baseball/softball field.

In the 2013-2014 school year, Nance said plans include installing a turf field at Tanks and improving handicap restrooms there and repairing lights at the tennis court. Replacing the Conley Center gym floor and building restrooms, a concession stand and a press box are the extracurricular facilities goals in the 2014-2015 school year.