Thursday, March 29, 2001

Head of Fairfield schools vows to do better

Changes coming to boost state report card scores

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — Likening the Fairfield school district to a business, Superintendent Robert Farrell on Wednesday told members of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce the district is working hard to help its “products” improve their achievement while holding down costs.

        “This corporation is responsible for approximately 9,000 units of production on an annual basis with a 13-year production cycle, with rarely all of these units remaining within our company for the entire period of time,” Mr. Farrell said in the chamber's annual State of the Schools address.

        Mr. Farrell explained the district's outline for improvement, part of a five-year strategic plan adopted by the school board four months ago. He noted the district is spending $6,304 per student, about $700 below the state average, which ranks the district 29th of 48 school districts in four Southwestern Ohio counties.

        “We want to do better than we've ever done,” Mr. Farrell said of 27 standards measured by the state. Schools are placed in one of four categories, depending on how many standards are met.

        “We're looking at results and think we'll get at least 19 or 20. It's an area we're spending considerable time on,” he said.

        On this year's report card, which reflects scores from the 1999-2000 school year, Fairfield met 16 standards, down two from the 2000 report card, but leaving the district in the continuous improvement category.

        Mr. Farrell vowed to improve those statistics.

        He outlined changes in the summer school program, review of curriculum and improved integration of technology in the classroom, noting the district has bought 2,500 computers in the past five years.

        Next month, school officials will unveil a Web site that will include district news and information, pages for each building, and possibly classroom assignments.

        Mr. Farrell asked for help from the chamber, the community and the public to assist in the improvement process.

        He said enrollment has stabilized, and additional hirings planned over the next three years would provide intervention specialists in math, more English and science teachers, technology leaders/technicians, special education teachers, and library aides to keep elementary media centers open all day.

        The hiring of 29 employees is contingent on passage of a 2.9-mill operating levy on the May 8 ballot.


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