Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Fairfield's school chief has 15 goals for 5 years

Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — Expect big things from Fairfield schoolchildren as the district begins implementation of a five-year plan, the district's top educator says.

        In his annual State of the Schools presentation to the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, Superintendent Charles Wiedenmann outlined 15 initiatives he and his administrative team will tackle before he retires at the end of the year.

        Among them is an effort to curtail drug possession or use at Fairfield Senior High School and the school's parking lot.

  Fairfield Schools Superintendent Charles Wiedenmann, in his State of the Schools speech, pledged to continue a practice of spending $500,000 annually on textbooks and teaching materials.
  Other pledges:
  • Improving technology as it's incorporated into instruction.
  • Finding new ways to keep students interested in and coming to school.
Drug-sniffing dog
        “Do we have a drug problem? We're going to find out. A drug dog is coming,” Mr. Wiedenmann said.

        He said he is drafting a letter to be mailed with student report cards.

        In it, parents will learn the schools plan to work cooperatively with Fairfield police to bring the city's new drug-sniffing dog to the school periodically to go through the halls and parking lot.

        It is part of an effort to reduce acts of vandalism, bring stricter discipline and reduce smoking at the high school.

        Officials also want to evaluate and improve safety policies throughout the district, and update the district's crisis plan.

        “When I walked in here 10 years ago, you had one of the best crisis plans in Ohio,” Mr. Wiedenmann said.

        “You used to just go over fire drills and tornado drills. Now we hand out sheets to our teachers on what you do when an armed intruder walks into your school. You also have to be aware of what to do with a hazardous chemical spill.”

Improving scores
        Aside from security, Mr. Wiedenmann said educators have to work toward improving the district's test scores on proficiency tests and raising graduation rates from today's 84 percent to the state's criteria of 93 percent.

        It is one of 27 factors the Ohio Department of Education uses to determine which of four categories a school district will be placed in next month when parents receive a state “report card” on their schools.

Expanding options
        “We're better than urban schools,” and compare well with other districts of similar size and socioeconomics, Mr. Wiedenmann said.

        “We could be doing better.

        “We're not where I want us to be. We have to expand our educational options for kids.”

"Goal is 100 percent'
        On proficiency tests, Mr. Wiedenmann said the district has come a long way from the early days when 70 percent to 80 percent of ninth-graders passed each subject test on the first try.

        “Our goal is 100 percent,” Mr. Wiedenmann said. “We've made improvements. We're up to the 90s now.”

        Raising the scores also will help push the district from a “continuous improvement” state rating to an “effective” district.

        To do that, Fairfield would have to meet 26 of the state's 27 standards.

        Fairfield now meets 18.


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