SIDNEY — Sidney City Schools finished out the 2017-18 school year in stride with a vibrant class of seniors heading out into the world, be it to serve in the military, continue their education, or head out into the workforce to make a difference in our community. The district started the 2018-19 school year with new leadership and a renewed vision; it continued into the new year with a plan to forge ahead.
Tiffany Rank, communitcations coordinator, has submitted the following report for the school district:
Welcome to new Superintendent Humble
Sidney City Schools Board of Education accepted the resignation of former superintendent John Scheu in the spring, which prompted a search for his replacement. Using the Ohio School Board Association for guidance in the search, and seeking the opinion of the community, the board was able to hire Bob Humble. Humble, former superintendent of Fairbanks Local Schools for 10 years, came to the district with a fresh perspective and an “it’s all about the kids” attitude.
Renewal levy and financial picture
The district placed and passed a renewal levy on the November ballot. 61.55 percent of the community voted in favor of the renewal of the 9.23 mill emergency operating levy, which brings in about $4.4 million a year and helps to maintain student programs, educational services, instruction, and support at current levels. If this levy were not renewed, the district would have lost $4.4 million in funding from an annual budget of $36 million, which would have been a 12 percent loss.
Through solid financial decisions and actively managing the ever-increasing cost of education and student services, the district has been able to maintain a positive cash balance. However, in FY 2022, the forecast shows the district in the red (with a negative cash balance). There are a few factors which play into that including uncertainties in the state funding formula, increased expenses to serve student needs, and minimal increase in property tax collections due to limited growth in real-estate development. During the same time period, the forecast shows the three major expenditure buckets increasing by 17.7 percent compared to the revenues only increasing by 1.8 percent.
Students are the number one priority of the district; the board and staff want to make sure they can continue to offer a quality education to them. To that end, Sidney City Schools will need to ask the community for additional financial support in the coming years, however, prior to that request, the district will make every effort to reduce existing expenses to minimize the amount of new monies needed.
To maximize resources (staff, materials, facilities), minimize inequities among the four current elementary schools, and expand educational opportunity while addressing the need to reduce expenses, the district has begun the process of reconfiguring the district.
The new district configuration will be made up of two kindergarten through second-grade buildings–Longfellow and Emerson, one third and fourth grade building–Northwood, one fifth through eighth grade building–Sidney Middle School, and the high school. An additional part of the reconfiguration is the ability to begin offering preschool, making Whittier the preschool location.
Preliminary benefits of the reconfiguration include:
• Expand preschool opportunity for more kids to start educational foundation earlier and stronger
• Start “wrap around” services sooner – able to identify student and family needs, communicate with partner agencies to help meet needs, become more familiar with students and families sooner
• Strengthen services and engage parents and specialists in conversations about supports and interventions sooner – there’s an opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive
• Consolidate district resources and establish uniformity – create equity among the different schools and unify educational opportunities
Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, Sidney City Schools looks to offer an outstanding preschool program to serve children with disabilities as well as typically developing children. The preschool will align to the Early Learning and Development Standards as recommended by the Ohio Department of Education.
By law, the local school district of residence must provide preschool to children on IEPs free of charge; typical children, or children who do not have special education needs, would be welcome to attend. Sidney City Schools anticipates a sliding scale fee schedule based on income to be associated with typical children who attend, similar to what one might experience at other area preschools.
The district is looking at a blended education model consisting of 11 classrooms, each with one teacher and one aide and no more than 16 students. Included in the 16 students, are a maximum of six to eight students on IEPs, and a maximum of eight to 10 typical students. The maximum number of students in classrooms is not the ideal number; administration understands the need to keep space open in each class to accomodate children who turn three throughout the year who may have an IEP or receive early intervention services, as well as move-ins and ongoing evaluations of student needs. Each teacher would have two sessions of students – a morning class and an afternoon class.
Sidney City Schools is excited about expanded educational opportunities that arise by offering preschool–allowing more kids to start their educational foundation earlier and stronger and closing the gap between students with and without preschool coming into kindergarten.
Through the new reconfiguration, the district sees the benefits of establishing a greater continuum of educational services for all students.
More information on the reconfiguration and preschool will be released on the Sidney City Schools website as it becomes available – www.sidneycityschools.org. For any specific questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.