Su­per­in­ten­dent cites progress with at­ten­dance as rea­son for op­ti­mism as state takeover looms.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeremy P. Kel­ley Staff Writer

Su­per­in­ten­dent El­iz­a­beth Lolli cited progress on stu­dent at­ten­dance and class­room teach­ing as high­lights for Day­ton Pub­lic Schools last week as the dis­trict be­gan a cru­cial 2019, dur­ing which DPS could face state takeover.

Lolli said the dis­trict’s at­ten­dance mes­sag­ing to stu­dents and fam­i­lies — that good at­ten­dance will lead to suc­cess — is lead­ing to im­prove­ments in some schools that have been strug­gling.

She also cited progress with teach­ers af­ter a ma­jor ini­tia­tive last se­mes­ter that closed each school for a day so that its teach­ing staff had time for a full day of train­ing.

“I think we made progress on work­ing with our teach­ing staff and hav­ing a clear un­der­stand­ing of what the ex­pec­ta­tions are in Day­ton Pub­lic Schools class­rooms,” Lolli said. “I think that we’ll be able to con­tinue that as we roll out our high-yield strate­gies videos that the cur­ricu­lum team is work­ing on.”

Teach­ers union Pres­i­dent David Romick said DPS teach­ers will keep “do­ing what we do – serv­ing the kids of Day­ton to the best of our abil­i­ties.” But as part of the Ohio 8 Coali­tion of large ur­ban school dis­tricts, he also said he has a close eye on po­lit­i­cal de­vel- op­ments in the state leg­is­la­ture.

There was a bill be­fore the Gen­eral As­sem­bly last year that would have changed Ohio’s state takeover law, but it did not move for­ward. Romick said with a new gover­nor and Speaker of the House, it’s pos­si­ble the is­sue will be taken up again.

In a Sep­tem­ber in­ter­view with this news or­ga­ni­za­tion, DeWine said he was open to dis­cus­sion on chang­ing the way Ohio’s school takeover law works. He suggested the pos­si­bil­ity of an in­terim step short of full state takeover, but em­pha­sized what­ever de­ci­sion is made, it must be fo­cused on school im­prove­ments for chil­dren, not for adults.

“I think you will see some ad­di­tional leg­is­la­tion to come that will have trac­tion. The Youngstown Supreme Court case is worth watch­ing, too,” Romick said, re­fer­ring to that school dis­trict’s court chal­lenge against the takeover law. “We need to look back to the orig­i­nal House Bill 70 in­tent about help­ing school dis­tricts

rather than pun­ish­ing them.”

If DPS stu­dents do not im­prove per­for­mance on state tests this spring, lead- ing to im­prove­ments on the state re­port card sched­uled for Sep­tem­ber, the dis­trict could be sub­ject to state take- over this fall.

Asked if that stress is a prob­lem in the schools, Lolli said DPS em­ploy­ees need “to keep their nose to the grind­stone, but stay calm about it” in do­ing their best from bell to bell ev­ery day.

“It’s an in­ter­nal pres­sure that we have on our­selves, but it’s re­ally not dif­fer­ent from what we should ex­pect ev­ery sin­gle day from ev­ery­one in the school dis­trict,” she said.

In­di­vid­ual schools are try­ing to get the same mes­sages out to fam­i­lies. The Real-Bel­mont Face­book page an­nounced that 108 honor roll stu­dents and 62 stu­dents with per­fect first-se­mes­ter at­ten­dance were be­ing re­warded with a lun­cheon at Golden Cor­ral restau­rant. But a sep­a­rate post told par­ents that more than 60 stu­dents were tardy last Mon­day, and pleaded for fam­i­lies to help get kids on track.

“We want to con­tinue the work that has al­ready been started,” school board Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Har­ris said. “We look for­ward to con­tin­ued progress. We look for­ward to move­ment. We’re look­ing for­ward to an ex­cit­ing con­tin­u­a­tion of the school year.”

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