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CCS Keeps Leadership And Stepped Up Academic Pressure

Leadership and focus will remain the same for the Columbus City Schools in the new year. Alison Holm reports. 

The school board last night voted to continue the leadership of President Gary Baker, and Vice President Michel Cole. Board member Eric Brown was the only board member present to oppose the pair, although he did not offer any explanation. Brown often supported former member Mary Jo Hudson who resigned last month, in her battles with Baker. Hudson’s seat remains vacant. Board member Ramona Reyes was absent from the meeting. This is Baker’s sixth term as president and Cole’s fourth as vice president.


The district is also maintaining its focus on test scores. With the continuing threat of a state takeover down the road, and with less than 100 academic days left in the school year, the district is continuing the Academic Surge initiative. Acting superintendent John Stanford says 350 elementary school teachers have completed training on classroom strategies to help children pass the third grade reading test – a crucial part of the district’s state report card. Stanford says the district has also hired 2 dozen part-time reading coaches to work directly with 2nd- and 3rd-graders on reading skills.


In addition, the district is launching an 8-week “Saturday Super Reader Academy” program at 7 schools. Stanford says the program is open to all CCS students.


“Even if a student is not struggling with reading, we welcome them to attend the Academy to accelerate their reading abilities and level up their performance.”


The Academies begin January 26th at East Linden, West Mound, Southwood, and Olde Orchard Elementaries, Columbus Africentric Early College, Ecole Kenwood French Immersion, and Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy.


Stanford says another part of the Academic Surge initiative focuses on improving high school math scores.


“65 of our district’s high school math teachers have taken part in the special professional development sessions. In the coming month we plan to offer some additional professional development opportunities at our high schools for our math teachers, to help those students who are struggling with geometry in our high schools.”


Last year the Columbus Schools received an “F” on the state report card, putting it one step closer to state-control. Under a 2015 law, if a district receives three failing grades in a row, the state can appoint a CEO to take over all aspects of the district. Test scores this spring will determine whether or not the state calls strike two on the district.



A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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