The Madison-Plains School District administration took a sober look at its progress and hurdles as part of its state of the district presentation to the board of education Tuesday evening.
Principals and directors as well as the superintendent and the treasurer spoke on what they feel they did well in during the last school year. They also discussed upcoming challenges and goals for the future.
Elementary and Intermediate
Incoming Principal Brad Miller said that he and outgoing principal Kim LeGault had improved logistics at the school, such as scheduling out the school day better and working on oversight of the budget.
“[The budget] is my priority this year and I have a lot to learn about that, but we’re going to get there,” he said. “I have great secretaries who help me along the way.”
He also said they had done well with collaboration between staff, administration and the community to improve the school.
Events that were highlights over the school year were author Saint Jean coming to the school to teach students how to write stories as well as a dodgeball fundraiser.
He said his big push for the next year is to further staff collaboration.
Miller also hopes for a smooth transition as LeGault moves over to running special education in the district.
“We got a lot of work ahead of us, but I look forward to a great 2017-2018 school year,” said Miller.
Junior and High School
Dr. Matt Unger, principal of the schools, said one of his accomplishments was to promote the students and their successes through use of social media.
“[We’re showing] different kids and showing different areas of success getting that image out there,” he said. “We could right reams and reams and reams but seeing smiles on those kids faces … that really drives what Madison-Plains is all about.”
One of the more visible things was an internship program for juniors and seniors where students were able to work at local companies and complete high school. Some were paid.
“We look at expanding that next year,” said Unger.
Less visible was an overhaul of the grading system and revamped disciplinary practices.
On the latter, the schools now offer rewards for good behavior.
“Once a month, if you haven’t been in trouble and have no missing assignments, you get to go early,” he said. “If you have assignments, you go work on your assignments. So there’s a big incentive for students to get their work turned in,”
There are future plans to improve discipline in the future as well, taking some concepts from restorative justice to build group counseling sessions, among other things. Other goals are similar to those in the Elementary and Intermediate buildings; improve student engagement and communication among staff.
Director Matt Mason said a number of improvements took place; including a new score board and storage rooms and that participation and celebration of student athletes is high.
“This is a huge win for a school our size,” he said. “We had over 465 total athletes in grades seven through 12.”
He also said the change from the Mid-State League Ohio Division to the Ohio Heritage Conference South Division has gone well.
“If you talk to our athletes … they’re excited,” said Mason. “They believe they have an opportunity to do things they haven’t been able to do in the past.”
His main goals are to keep social media active and keep connected with the community.
“People care about that and I forget that sometimes,” he said.
He also noted that while there was high participation overall, there were fewer female student athletes.
“Our girls’ numbers are not where we want them to be, our boys numbers are doing well,” he said. “So we’re working really hard to improve those numbers.”
Joe Penny, director, said there have been significant improvements in the buildings. Pest control has been improved and EPA standards have been met.
But he said that the school’s infrastructure is aging. Buses are getting older and the school buildings are showing their significant age. One of the kitchens lacks air conditioning.
“We try to patch things where we can,” he said. “But [if a cafeteria freezer breaks, for example] we lose product, impacting our budget.”
Todd Mustain said his department has done well in projecting budget concerns and making sure financial data is accurate. He said the ability for the district to find solutions to problems has been proven with two-tier busing.
“Now you’re wondering why that’s on there, considering we’re going to single tier this year,” he said. “However, the demonstration of the strategy was a success. We demonstrated a solution that allowed the district to project a positive balance in 2019 that was vetted with the state. However, following the final biennial budget we weren’t able to follow through with that.”
The district also had no issues with how it handles itself fiscally after a routine audit, which the treasurer said was “unfortunately unusual.”
The major concern for the future was getting a levy passed to ensure the district can avoid deficit spending.
Tim Detwiller said that establishing merit pay, which he said was a first for Madison County, was one of the bigget accomplishments made in the last school year.
Echoing Mustain, he felt the major concern future also was getting the needed levies passed to ensure the schools can continue to operate in order to focus on other goals.
“Since I’ve been superintendent we can’t talk about facilities because we had to talk about operations,” he said. “I want to talk about that so starting in 2018 we can have a talk with the community: are we going to have a new school or are we going to reinvest in the current facilities?”
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, or on Twitter @msfkwiat.