By Jordan Puckett
Dr. Keith Kline, superintendent of West Clermont Schools, met with parents and other members of the district Wednesday, June 12 to discuss the current state of the schools and give his goals for the future. Kline spoke about four main areas that needed focus in order to move West Clermont Schools in a positive direction.
“There have been a lot of changes over the course of this year,” Kline said. “We do have some longer range plans that are going to get us to where we want to be, and most importantly will allow us to offer our young people the kind of education they deserve.”
In the first section of his talk, Kline spoke about the importance of safe, secure, and inviting schools.
“Kids and teachers can’t come to school and be productive and learn if they don’t feel safe and secure,” Kline said.
He outlined his plan for increased safety in the school district. He plans to improve the security of the school entrances, have kindergarten and pre-school classes inside the main buildings, provide safety training for students and teachers, and revisit the traffic flow.
The second section of Kline’s speech dealt with 21st century learning and teaching.
“If we educated our kids now like I was educated…I consider that educational malpractice,” Kline said. “Our kids are going to face an entirely different world than we ever thought of.”
One of the changes being brought to the district is the option for dual credit. Students will be able to sit in their regular high school classrooms and earn both high school and college credit through UC Clermont. This dual credit will require an application through the college, though is free of charge to high school students.
Another addition is a social media program that will involve students of all grade levels. This program will teach students about the different uses of the internet and how to use it safely.
Kline also spoke about improving communications. His goal is to improve the school websites, have a larger Facebook presence, and increased coverage in the press.
The last section of Kline’s report dealt with fiscal stability. The budget for the 2013-14 school year has already been reduced by $1.5 million. This is part of an overall cut of $14.4 million since 2005.
“Quite honestly, our next step is fiscal emergency,” Kline said.
A fiscal emergency is declared by the state auditor. After this, a five person financial planning commission will be appointed by the auditor with the possibility of only one of these being from the district.
“They would determine the types and the amount of levies,” said Kline. “The bottom line is, we lose control of our school district.”
Despite the financial hardships, Kline is hopeful that positive changes will happen in the school district. He wants to get art, music, and physical education classes back in the elementary schools to provide students with a well-rounded education. He also wants to have kindergarten all day, every day.
“I believe the district’s at a turning point,” Kline said. “We’re at a crossroads…West Clermont needs to do our part to make sure that we’re providing our community with well educated and skilled folks for the workforce. We have an obligation to our community.”
“Those are the struggles we face,” he said. “But we also have a tremendous amount of good stuff going on in our school district.”
Kline’s entire presentation can be found on the district website at www.westcler.org.