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Parent Update – September 1, 2010

September 1, 2010

OLMSTED FALLS EARNS “EXCELLENT WITH DISTINCTION” DESIGNATION ON LOCAL REPORT CARD

We are pleased to report that, for the 11th consecutive year, the Olmsted Falls School District has earned the highest ranking on the Local Report Card issued annually by the Ohio Department of Education.  Olmsted Falls School District was rated “Excellent with Distinction” and was one of just seven districts in Cuyahoga County to receive this top rating.  It is with great pride that we invite you to view the latest Local Report Card for Olmsted Falls School District.

HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHERS AWARDED $3,000 GRANT FOR TECHNOLOGY TO ENHANCE THEIR CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION

Congratulations to Olmsted Falls High School science teachers Mrs. Lisa Whitney and Mr. Andrew Hoslar (pictured below) on being awarded a $3,000 grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.

These two teachers identified and applied for these grant funds, on their own, to enhance their classroom instruction through a more extensive integration of technology.  These funds will allow for the purchase of additional laptop computers to be dedicated to mastery learning and formative assessment strategies within the classroom.  The more integrated use of technology within select science courses will allow for a high level of feedback for students as well as exposure to the use of technology across a variety of activities within each unit.   Kudos to Mrs. Whitney and Mr. Hoslar for their initiative and success in bringing new funds into the District to support student learning.

FALL 2010 OPEN HOUSE SCHEDULE

Tonight! Wed., Sept. 1st:  5th Grade 7 pm

Thurs., Sept. 2nd:  Falls-Lenox South Learning Community 7 pm

Thurs., Sept. 2nd:  7th Grade 7-8 pm

Thurs., Sept. 9th:  OFHS (Grades 9-12) 7 pm

Wed., Sept. 15th: Early Childhood Center – A.M. Preschool/Kindergarten 6:45-7:30 p.m.; P.M. Preschool/Kindergarten 7:30-8:15 p.m.

PARENTS AND ALL RESIDENTS ARE INVITED TO A COMMUNITY MEETING RE: FUTURE OF OLMSTED FALLS LIBRARY

Some of you may have already heard that the Olmsted Falls branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library will be relocated.  This has generated many questions among residents and community leaders.  Members of the Cuyahoga County Public Library Administration and Board of Trustees will lead a community meeting to present information and address questions and concerns about the planned relocation.

The meeting will be on Thursday, September 16th at 7 p.m., in the Fellowship Hall of the Olmsted Falls Community Church, 7853 Main Street.  The church is located across the street from the library.

As many are already aware, the Olmsted Falls School District and the Olmsted Falls branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library work in partnership to promote literacy and reading among our student population and their families.  For example, this summer more than 3,000 local children, ages 17 and under, participated in the Library’s Annual Summer Reading Game.  I encourage parents to attend to get a full understanding of the plans for the relocation and have an opportunity to voice your questions and comments at this important, informative meeting.

EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER WELCOMES NEWEST BULLDOGS

Building administrators and faculty all pitched in this week to show our young Bulldogs the ropes as kindergarten got underway at the Olmsted Falls Early Childhood Center.  There was no shortage of friendly faces and helping hands along the way as students learned how to get from the buses to their classrooms.  This year marks the start of the second year of operation for the District’s Early Childhood Center (ECC) dedicated exclusively to the education of our preschool and kindergarten students.

Dr. Jim Lloyd helping kindergarten students off the bus.

Mrs. Merritt Waters leading a group of students from the bus to the building entrance.

Preschool teacher Mrs. Elaine Atkinson greeting students at the door.

TRANSPORTATION REMINDERS

Please remember that bus routes can run slower during the first 2-3 weeks of each school year as runs are adjusted and fine-tuned.  We would like to thank all parents for your continued patience during these first few weeks.

Please remember:

* Scheduled pick-up times provided on bus postcards are approximate based on the student roster as of the time the routes were made.

* Pick-up/Drop-off times may vary during the first 2-3 weeks of school due to additional or withdrawn students (and therefore more or fewer stops).

* Weather conditions, road construction, traffic and train delays can also impact pick-up times.

Routes can run slower for the first week or so of school.

* High School busing services have been reinstated.  Beginning with the first day of school, August 24th, there will be 11 high school buses running for the morning pick-up/drop-off, and 8 high school buses running for the afternoon pick-up/drop-off.  The morning drop-off time for students will be approximately 7:05 a.m.; the afternoon pick-up time will be approximately 3:00 p.m.  Students with late arrival or early release schedules who chose to utilize school transportation will be assigned to a school study hall.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND STATE OF OHIO PROMOTE RESOURCE FOR CHILDREN WITHOUT HEALTH COVERAGE

The U.S. Department of Health and the State of Ohio are urging parents of children who do not have health care coverage to visit www.InsureKidsNow.gov or call (800) 324-8680 for information on free or low-cost health insurance for kids.  Even if they have been turned down in the past, they may be able to get coverage now.

QUESTIONS ABOUT CLASS SIZES

First, allow me to say that the comments submitted on this blog are very much appreciated.  These comments serve to further extend and enhance our communication efforts by letting us know about what questions exist that may need to be communicated.  For example, we have had a number of recent questions (both on the blog and by phone) on the topic of class sizes which I cover in the paragraphs that follow.  In the coming weeks, we will be working to set up each building principal, as well as other lead District administrators, with personal profiles on the District blog which will allow them to respond directly on any issues that relate to their buildings or departments.

Class sizes have been an issue for the entire time that I have been superintendent of the Olmsted Falls School District. It is not uncommon for many of our classes in grades 1 – 8 to be in the high 20′s. Unfortunately, the District occasionally has classes exceed 30 students.

In the past, the constraint that kept us from adding additional sections (in order to lower class sizes) was the lack of classrooms. As you know, we had multiple classes housed in modular classrooms (trailers) at all of our school facilities. Now that the bond issue has passed (May 2007) and the new OFIS and middle school construction projects have been completed, adequate classroom space is only lacking at our High School.

Unfortunately, the current constraint is the operating budget for the District. As a result of the 3 failed levies, 10.5 teaching positions were eliminated throughout the District. It was a pledge that if the levy passed, 4 additional classroom teachers would be rehired (2 in 2010/11, 1 in 2011/12, and 1 in 2012/13).

With the passage of the levy in February 2010, the District hired two additional teachers. Additionally, with the retirement of a librarian, the District chose not to replace the librarian, but rather add a 3rd new teacher.

While this helped with class sizes, unfortunately, it is not enough and there are still grade levels where class sizes are larger than what we would like.

With the present financial uncertainty (and please remember that while the levy passed in February, no additional revenue will flow to the District until January 2011) at the state level, and further funding cuts predicted next year, the District is being extremely cautious with adding any new expenditure that is not planned in its current budget.

EMPLOYEES HONORED FOR YEARS OF SERVICE

Please join us in congratulating High School Choral Music Teacher Judy Crandall and Director of Business Affairs Tim Atkinson for their 30 Bulldog years of service to the Olmsted Falls School District.  These individuals were recognized for their contributions to the District’s success during the annual General Staff Meeting held Monday, August 23rd.

  1. JL
    September 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Not quite so sure I really care for the high school bus situation. This has not helped me out one bit – I feel that 2 study halls are a little too much…not very productive for my child in the least – we had issues with this situation last year. Was hoping for an early start, late dismissal as promised by my son’s counselor. Not sure I’d ever vote yes for another school levy – sorry.

    • September 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      The solution to prevent having two study halls is simply taking another academic class. I would suggest contacting the school counselors and see what class is available.

      OFHS offers a wide range of elective classes. Options include 3 foreign language options, music, art, health/wellness/physical education, as well as bio-medical science and pre-engineering.

      As far as the busing situation, please contact me via email or telephone to expound upon what issue you are facing. Many parents have expressed sincere appreciation to me for the restoration of busing and I am curious as to what issue you are personally facing.

  2. sam
    September 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Regarding Hiring of new teachers. In issue Aug.15th there were 13 new employees to the school system. I don’t understand you said 2 would be hired? Where is the funds for the 13. Or are they all volunteers? Can you explain. Thanks

    • September 3, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      Thank you for your question. The persons are all new employees of the district.

      Over the course of the three levy defeats, 10 1/2 teaching positions were eliminated. As part of the levy campaign, the District pledged to restore 4 of these teaching positions (2 positions for 2010/11, 1 in 2011/12, and 1 in 2012/13).

      With the passage of the levy, the District kept its levy pledge and added two additional teachers to the District total. Additionally, new teachers were hired to replace those teachers who either retired or left the District for other employment opportunities.

      Thus, two of the teachers who were pictured in the August 15th blog are new (additional teaching positions) and the remainder are teachers who are replacing teachers who either retired or resigned from the district to pursue other options.

      Thanks again.

  3. OMalley
    September 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

    We love our daughter’s new bus route to Falls Lenox. We live close to the school and she used to ride on the whole route and be dropped off last. Now she is the last stop on the bus and the first one off in the afternoon. We can actually have her ride the bus in the morning. Thank you!

  4. Steve
    September 5, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    A few days about there was an story in the paper about Race for the top funds and I saw that Berea schools were going to receive about half a million dollars. I did not see any money listed for Olmsted Falls, why is this?

    • September 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

      We have also had questions in recent days regarding the State of Ohio being named as a recipient of funding through the U.S. Department of Education’s “Race to the Top” Program, and whether Olmsted Falls City School District will benefit from this federal grant award. While some other local district’s (i.e. Berea City Schools) will benefit from this funding, our District will not receive any of these funds which are specifically intended for professional development usage.

      In order to receive funds through the federal “Race to the Top” Program, District’s needed to submit a Memorandum of Understanding signed by its administration, Board of Education, and local teachers’ association agreeing to the terms of the grant funding award. The main purpose of these new federal dollars is to be used for professional development programming targeted toward improving teacher effectiveness and, thereby, results in the classroom and in student achievement.

      Olmsted Falls School District did submit the requested Memorandum of Understanding to the Ohio Department for Education to be included in their “Race to the Top” application. However, our District was only able to submit the memorandum with Board and administration signatures. The Olmsted Falls Education Association (OFEA) members voted, as an organization, to not sign the memorandum due to concerns with the requirements of the grant. While the District did submit the memorandum with two of the three required signatures, the lack of the third signature did not enable Olmsted Falls Schools to be included in the disbursements of funds you have been hearing about on the news in recent days.

      • Steve
        September 8, 2010 at 7:35 pm

        I appreciate your truthful reply. In a previous career I worked in a management position in a union environment. Unfortunately, numerous poor decisions by the union leaders made the company unable to survive thus I understand the predicament the school is in.

        These types of actions will hurt chances for any future levies.

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