The Batavia Township Trustees hosted presentations by both Batavia and West Clermont schools at their Oct. 17 meeting.
A representative from West Clermont discussed their upcoming bond issue vote, which the trustees voted to formally endorse. Barbara Bradley, Batavia Local School Superintendent, however, had to levy or bond issue to discuss, but rather presented the trustees with an overall discussion of the schools, some recent improvements, and some goals for the future.
“What I really want to do is celebrate our schools,” said Bradley. “This presentation will tell you a little about where we’ve come from since I took office in 2005 and what our initial plans and initiatives are for the next school year.”
Bradley said that a major part of the district’s plan is incorporating a theme of excellence into their operations. Reminding staff and students, she said, that excellence is attainable is a good way of helping to attain it.
“We thought ‘dedicated to excellence’ was a great theme, because everybody wants to be an excellent rated school district,” said Bradley. “Everything we do now we say is dedicated to excellence.”
Bradley outlined some changes that occurred in the district last year that has helped the district advance, including getting back in touch with the educational service center, analyzing data to determine how to best educate the students, creating a before and after school program with the YMCA and instituting monthly principal meetings to create a team atmosphere.
“We became a team, so instead of each school operating separately, we became a team,” said Bradley. “I call the principals my cabinet. I also started having staff meetings in the schools, and gave the state of the school district and how things work so they will understand it. This year I hope to do four sessions in each building.”
Some programs, however, took the school out of the building in an attempt to reach troubled teens. Bradley said that some discussion between a pair of teachers a the high school spawned a new program that could help bring students at risk of failing back into a productive school life.
“We started a home visitation program,” said Bradley. “That was created through discussions from a PE teacher and librarian at the high school. Those two, myself and the school nurse started out with a list of kids who are absent a lot, failing and not going to graduate and went to their house. We knocked on the door, introduced ourselves, and asked how we can help. It was amazing. The parents invited us into the house, we discussed the issues, and told them that they need to be in school and we can help with a plan. One parent sat with tears streaming down her face and said it was the first time that the school had come to her, and she know knew we care.”
Bradley said that the plan is to visit the bottom third of students, those who are often failing and/or not attending school at all anymore, to try and open doors for success in their schooling. Trustee Archie Wilson said that efforts like that are what make a school great, not just excellent.
“All of the big buildings, all of the big wages, it doesn’t make a difference,” said Wilson. “It’s what’s in the heart. If you’re willing to help someone to the top, then that’s why you’re at the top.”
Bradley also listed a series of goals, such as improving graduation rates at the high school and organizing programs and instruction better. Other efforts and programs created to help the district along included an after school program at the high school, a wellness policy, increasing professional development for the teachers and creating a paper recycling program. The high school track was also resurfaced, which has increased the number of home track meets from one to potentially four a year. Maintaining a good face, said Bradley, is important.
“One of the most important things I think is the painting inside and out,” said Bradley. “You may think that it’s normal. When I walked into my office at the middle school, I knew we had work to do. When we welcome people, we should be proud of what we welcome them into. We had one custodian, a young lady, who stepped up to the task and really set the bar for the rest of them. The middle school now looks as good as it has in five years.”
Bradley said that her goal was to not only become excellent, but to become the school of choice in the county. She said that she expects the rating next year to improve to excellent, and one way of achieving that was to eliminate a few administrative positions and distribute those duties between the school principals. That, she said, opened doors to hire more teachers.
“We are bursting at the seams, and we need teachers, aides and custodians,” said Bradley. “Because of this, we were able to hire some. To me, the people in the trenches are the important ones who make the school work.”
The trustees also discussed the construction of a new picnic shelter and the need for a building monitor for the new township hall. The monitor would be available during public functions when the public has rented the township hall for activities. To learn more, call (513) 732-3888.