Writes in support of Salem renewal levy
To the editor: On Tuesday, May 3rd , the residents of the Salem City School District will be asked for their consideration and support in renewing the second (and final) phase of an operating levy utilized for the daily academic needs of our 2,200 students throughout our three elementary buildings, the junior high, and high school. This 4.3 mill levy renewal will afford the district the opportunity to continue its high-quality educational resources by generating $1.3 million in supplemental revenue and IS NOT a request for "new" money. In May 2010, voters overwhelmingly approved the passage of the first phase renewal, and the school district has continued to make incredible strides in maintaining the "excellent standards and fiscal responsibilities" entrusted by the citizens of Salem. Earlier this year, the school board diligently devised and adopted a list of district-wide goals to further enhance the quality of education available to current and future students in the Salem City Schools. These include: 1. Maintaining and building on our Excellent rating into the future, achieving the state's highest level of distinction by 2015; 2. Continuing to work on fostering a fair and welcoming classroom environment conducive to student learning and a feeling of belonging, as measured by improvements in annual respondent satisfaction surveys; 3. Introducing and implementing initiatives that make Salem students more competitive for 21st century careers by 2020, through the introduction of more challenging classes, advanced technology, and comprehensive career planning; 4. Creating effective communication tools in order to provide information to and receive feedback from students, parents, and community members in a timely manner-making it easier for all to understand the news, activities, and overall performance of the district by 2013; and,
5. Preparing for and planning district-wide facilities renovations within the next five years in order to modernize our existing school buildings and facilities for 21st century learning while responsibly managing taxpayer funds.
The superintendent, treasurer, and board members have implemented and accomplished several cost-reduction strategies during the past two years which have enabled the Salem City Schools to greatly improve the district's financial position since moving out of fiscal watch in 2009. Contributors to these strategies include the development of a Financial Audit Committee comprised of community members who review the district's finances and verify that the financial resources are used efficiently and responsibly on behalf of our students and staff. Additionally, further cost savings have been realized by pursuing energy efficiency programs in each of the buildings, coupled with savings achieved as a result of changes made to the employee insurance plan. These fiscal improvements were notably recognized by the Ohio Smart School Initiative as "Best in Class" for "providing quality services at the lowest cost in non-instructional spending." As a result, the Salem City School District has earned the prestigious acclaim of being classified as a benchmark district in Ohio in two of four possible fiscal management categories -Maintenance & Operations and Central Administration. A detailed report highlighting these financial stewardship successes is available on the school district website at www.salemquakers.org. Several innovative programs have been added this school year to better optimize the learning environment for our students including the Quaker Tech Online Academy; Seniors to Sophomores program in cooperation with the Kent State University Salem Campus; Advanced Placement (AP) classes to allow for college placement credits; Elementary Summer Learning Camp for grades 1 through 6; Kinder-Camp Readiness for new kindergarteners; and a Biomedical Engineering Program at the high school in partnership with Salem Community Hospital. In February 2010, the district rolled-out the Parent Assistant Module, which provides all parents the opportunity to view their child's daily schedule, current grades, attendance reports, updated homework assignments, and applicable messages sent by each respective school building. These technological advancements and initiatives have tremendously increased the communication and organization between staff and parents throughout our district and continue to strengthen the necessary parent-teacher relationships essential for individual strength and growth with our students. As an SHS graduate and proud and involved parent of a fourth-grade student in the Salem City Schools, I personally witness the ever-increasing demands on our children, the teachers, and the overall need to maintain a challenging classroom environment to adequately and properly prepare our young leaders of tomorrow for the daily challenges which await them, both academically and socially. The baseline index for measuring the readiness and success of any individual is the fundamental education received from a public or parochial school system. Without proper instruction, self-discipline, and guidance, these variables become insurmountable hurdles that further define and represent a "resounding failure of the system." Please join me in supporting all of the continuous efforts put forth by our school administrators, faculty, and students in keeping our district moving in a positive and forward direction. Let's continue our history of progress and academic excellence by ensuring that "Quaker Pride Runs Citywide" by helping pass the Salem City Schools Levy renewal on May 3rd. Your vote is not merely for an issueit's for our children and the future success of our community.
Gregg Warner, Chairman, Salem City Schools Levy Committee, Salem