Dayton schools need change or risk state takeover

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – If the current school year would have been graded, state officials say Dayton Public Schools would have received an “F” grade.

State officials said if things go unchanged for the district, the district could be placed on Academic Distress and the state would put its own board in place.

“We are improving our practices,” said Lori Ward, Superintendent of Dayton Public Schools. “We’re improving our processes. We are improving our image.”

Representatives from the Ohio Department of Education were in Dayton on Tuesday to discuss its findings and offer recommendations on improvements.

A report was compiled after a week-long review back of the district back in January. Officials said they compiled 33 hours of interviews with teachers, staff, and students.

“They’re looking at both strengths and challenges and making a series of recommendations based on that,” said Chris Woolard, Senior Executive Director for Accountability with the Ohio Department of Education.

The department’s district review team has been at work for about a year, according to a department spokesperson. The team is sent to help schools in danger of being put on Academic Distress and offers critiques on areas needing improvement.

“They’re a few years out from that happening,” said Woolard. “However, based on student performance and student achievement levels, there needs to be some change to make sure that does not happen.”

Superintendent Ward addressed the issues facing the district after the report was given.

She said issues like poverty among students could be address by forming stronger community partnerships, giving students more ways to seek help and stay focused on getting an education.

Ward also said the district needs a stronger plan to compete with schools which may be more attractive to send students. She said there are too many options for students to choose so the district needs to be giving the best education it can provide.

“I look at the report as to how we really need to read that and take away those items that will rapidly improve the district,” said Ward.

The review noted a few strengths within the district. Officials said the district has a commitment to improve, a culture of high expectations, and a curriculum aligned with the state.

Before a district is placed on Academic Distress, it must have an overall grade of “F” three years in a row. Because of changes with the Department of Education’s policy, the 2014-2015 school year does not count against Dayton.

Only two schools in Ohio are placed on Academic Distress: Lorain City Schools in Lorain, Ohio, and Youngstown City Schools in Youngstown, Ohio.

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