OBERLIN - As students prepare to head back to school, the city's education leaders gathered to host a joint luncheon to tout their accomplishments Thursday.
The Oberlin Business Partnership hosted the event featuring Jennifer Harris, executive director of the Oberlin Early Childhood Center and lead partner for Oberlin Kids, a Lorain County United Way collaborative; David Hall, superintendent of Oberlin Schools; and Glenn Faircloth, superintendent of Lorain County Joint Vocational School. It was held at the Hotel of Oberlin.
Harris said Oberlin Kids always is working to meet its goal of ensuring more children are prepared for kindergarten. Oberlin Kids is a community collaboration that supports the parents and families of children newborn to age 5.
In her presentation, she shared data from the Oberlin Schools that 45 percent of children failed the kindergarten readiness assessment in the 2016-17 school year. Harris said she wants to bring that number down as soon as possible.
"In order to do that, we need for all children in Oberlin to enroll in Oberlin Kids," she said.
Currently, 70 percent of the estimated 345 pre-kindergarten children in Oberlin are enrolled, but that can grow, she said. Harris also spoke about the new website the organization launched to give parents an easier way to sign up with Oberlin Kids and enroll in the On Track for kindergarten program.
In addition to the new site and continued goals, the collaborative is beginning talks to provide free universal preschool programs in Oberlin. Local preschool programs in the area help, but Harris admitted the lack of transportation, specific needs for parents and affordability present challenges.
Hall shared that the district partnered with the Wellington branch of the Lorain County Community College. The partnership will let students take classes in the LCCC branch.
"I think that's going to open up a lot of different opportunities for our students," he said.
Since the school already transports students to the JVS, the bus will drop the students off at JVS and then another bus will take them to LCCC's Wellington branch.
In addition to the new partnership, Hall also updated the changes to the district's transportation systems. The district's bus routes were reduced to six, and three new buses were added to the district's fleet. The district is working to install a winter tracking app for when buses are running late in the snow, parents and students can find the bus. The app is expected to become available in the next few months.
Hall also said the district is working on its four strategic pillar goals. The district has a committee for each of the pillars: educational programming; student and family support; facilities and finance; and communications.
Lorain County Joint Vocational School
Faircloth will begin his sixth year at the school, which serves students in ninth through 12th grades and adult learners, and said he can talk about strategic planning. The school added 15 new JVS employees and nine new high school teachers for coming fall year.
Faircloth said when he came to the school, he first had to deal with the school's finances and two levies for additional funding in 2011 and 2012. Now, the JVS is hoping that voters approve a 0.75-mill permanent improvement levy in November. The levy would help improve the school's infrastructure and improve the facilities labs.
The next push is aimed at becoming the model career technical education center by 2023. In order to do this, Faircloth organized a field trip to the Penta Career Center in Toledo earlier this month to see how it operates.
He said when he first came to JVS, he heard it was the best-kept secret in Lorain County. It shouldn't be a secret, he said. He said the effort to let the community know what the JVS does - with the help of Betty Halliburton, who was hired as director of communications - will continue.