LORAIN — Reporter Katie Nix solicited questions from the Lorain community to ask school district CEO David Hardy. He answered them May 10 before his town hall meeting. Check out the questions and Hardy’s answers below.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BEFORE MAY 17
When will teachers be told if there will be job cuts?
There aren’t any anticipated cuts. There was a letter and conversation with the teachers union president.
If Title I services are being eliminated in their current form, what positions are you planning to supplement that with?
Title I services are not being cut. The position of Title I teacher is being eliminated. With Title I services the intent is to provide interventions to kids and that’s kids that are underperforming so how we go about providing additional support to kid who are underperforming will directly dictate how we approach it. Because we have, at the elementary school, 75 percent of kids are in that bucket we have to think about it differently so the idea of Title I services being the avenue is a false dichotomy. We actually have to figure out how to support all of our kids differently. Next year you will see, and our teachers and leaders will see, how we approach intervention differently next year.
Are tutor positions being eliminated?
I don’t even want to answer that question because I don’t know what tutor positions we have.
There’s a rumor going around that teachers will have to reapply for their jobs next year. Is that true?
You know what’s funny about rumors is they’re started by people I would love to talk to so we could get to a better understanding. There’s no truth, zero truth to teachers having to reapply for their jobs.
Is there going to be any changes to how the dress code is enforced at the high school?
I would 110 percent agree with (someone who thinks the dress code enforcement is lacking at the high school). I think Mrs. Hopkins and I are in agreement that something has to be done different at the high school, especially with the dress code.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BEFORE MAY 10
Where is graduation going to take place with George Daniel Field being redone?
It’ll be in our gymnasium.
The school board has attended graduation in the past. Will they be attending this year?
I hope so.
Will students be receiving health education next year particularly in middle school?
We have actually had conversations with the Cleveland Clinic the past two weeks to talk about some of those challenges and create presentations, so they’ve been productive conversations but we’re not particularly sure how that curriculum will pan out yet, particularly in middle school.
Can you stand by the fact that you’re not bringing in charter schools?
Yes I can stand by that fact.
Have you done anything to communicate the administrative changes to parents, families and staff?
We’re in the beginning stages of making that transition happen so our new turnaround principals will be communicating first to their teams and then to the community through letters and so forth and that is coming.
I’ve been very intentional to leave the good work to the teachers and I told them this year I would not disrupt what they’re doing to make kids successful and I trust that they have been. I’m excited to see what next steps we need to take but nothing intentional was focused solely on our schools because we had so many other things to attend to. Case and point, we had a huge financial crisis when it came to the health trust and our insurance. We complications with some of our organizational structures here in the central office and then we went through a very intensive school leadership turnaround and change, so these conversations of school leadership started in December and we’re just now finishing in May. It’s about getting everything else right first, so we can effectively address instruction in a powerful way next year. With that being said some of the things we’ve done this year will directly affect outcomes for kids, but I would not be surprised if we have very minimal gains this year as we prepare greatly for next.
Is there any truth to the fact that students had to wear “Not Yet” shirts if they didn’t hit standards at Achievement First?
No that’s incorrect.
What types of professional development have you brought into the district this year?
Again, this year was focused on reorganization at the central office level and increasing our capacity to get better for teachers going into next year and ensuring that as we think about what teachers need that we hear from them rather than just doing things to teachers, so we’ve been pretty focused on getting it right for our teachers next year.
What are your feelings on the district’s response to intervention process and how are you planning to change it?
I think that the question I want to ask back is how do we provide better services for our kids? We have to be really intentional about how we think about that and not to say we haven’t done that in the past but I would say that our school report card tells us that we haven’t been and we have to do something different, whether that’s changing resources or having more specific conversations about individual kids. The reality of the situation is we have to do something better.
What is Anet’s role in the Lorain school district?
Nothing as of yet. They are a number of vendors who are on our Lorain Promise page who have submitted information to work with us and we’ll see. They do a little bit of everything. They provide assessments to professional learning opportunities to consulting to leadership coaching.
Is there anything being done to change class sizes?
Why hasn’t a principal been named for the high school?
For a few reasons. One, we want to make sure we have the right person. Two, we want to make sure we have the right configuration of leaders. As you form any team you want to make sure you have the right pieces, so we’ve taken a lot of time to make sure we’ve got that. Third, we had 13 other schools that we wanted to make sure we got right first. We know that the challenges we’re seeing at the high school are manifested by those we see in middle school and elementary so we wanted to get those right first.
How will you ensure the teachers will not be riffed?
I think if I heard the question correctly it’s ‘How do we make sure we have the best teachers in front of our kids?’ That’s what I hear and I hear that because I think the most important thing is that we improve on what we deliver to our kids every single day. When you walk into our classrooms and only 17 percent of our students are receiving standard space instruction, when you look at only 1.1 percent of our high school students are leaving for college with a remediation free ACT score, it’s about what we need to do right by kids to improve the quality of teaching in all of our classrooms.
How do you plan to help students living in trauma?
I’ve been in conversations with the (Lorain County Board of Mental Health) in the last week and the Cleveland Clinic in the last two weeks to talk about what supports they may be able to provide us and it ranges from programming to additional social workers and counselors in our buildings to finding ways to support our families differently and all of those things are on the table and those conversations will probably go until the end of this month to figure out what support we can actually get. But please know that is a big priority for us. When we look at the past few years we have a chronic absentee rate of 30 percent plus of our kids not coming to school, there’s a reason. That’s not necessarily academic. That’s something else and we need to address it.
If preschool classes are being added to every building are the Titan Wellness clinics going away to make room for that?
We decided to consolidate the health services through Mercy. I had a great conversation with (Mercy Vice President) Ed Oley about this and what we found is we had three clinics but the usage rate at all of them was really low and part of it was because we had alternative days, so people didn’t know when to show up at which site, so we said ‘Let’s have one site, five days a week.’ Not only does it make it a consistent location, but it also gives a consistent schedule for folks and we believe that will increase traffic that goes in and out of Washington Elementary School and will support our community even stronger.
Will it be saving the district money to consolidate the clinics?