Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Springboro renews spirit

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        David D. Baker, new superintendent of Springboro Schools, plans to be the stabilizing force in a district that was mired in controversy last school year.

        In his second week on the job, he said his immediate focus is simple.

        “My first priority is to get the schools open,” he said. Schools open Sept. 5.

        Mr. Baker, former assistant superintendent at Princeton City Schools, was hired earlier this month to replace Gary Meier, who resigned in March.

        Eight other administrators left the district after Mr. Meier resigned.

        The school board then grew sharply divided because several members said they were not notified of a contract buyout, estimated at $260,000 to $280,000, agreed to between Mr. Meier and some of the board members.

        The district still has not filled its treasurer position but is working toward that, Mr. Baker said.

        “There's still a lot of ill will with what went on earlier in the year,” said board member Diane Trifiro, who added that she was not part of the buyout negotiations.

        However, the board now is focusing more on positives than negatives for this growing district of 3,300 students, Ms. Trifiro said.

        “We're trying a lot of lis tening to what the community is telling us,” she said. “We have to get everybody back on the same page.”

        Mr. Baker and the board have plans to do just that.

        They're starting with a theme of “Children First” to remind staff, parents and board members who they should focus on, Mr. Baker said.

        Staff will be wearing colorful Children First pins as a reminder, he said.

        Another unifying measure will be development of a strategic plan over the next year, Mr. Baker said. The district plans to develop five-year goals on technology, facilities and academic achievement.

        Included in that will be studies of the district's growth, Mr. Baker said.

        Despite the 1998 opening of a new high school, school buildings are crowded. Officials predict more than 100 new students will file in every year.

        This year, Springboro Elementary, which had been closed for renovations, will reopen. The opening had been put on hold for lack of money, but taxpayer support in November of a 3.33-mill operating levy allows a facilities reorganization to move ahead. Students will be placed into three elementary buildings instead of two.

        The board will have to work together on the problems that accompany growth, Mr. Baker said.


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