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TWINSBURG -- City School District Superintendent Kathryn Powers says the State of Schools is strong, thanks in no small measure to the more than 500 teachers, coaches and administration members who devote their careers to the education of the district's more than 4,200 students.
Powers used her nearly 30-minute State of the Schools Address May 4 at the Hilton Garden Inn of Cleveland/Twinsburg to tout the successes of the district, from student growth to capital improvements, to the accolades earned by specific schools and standout educators.
She also thanked the community for the passage of Issue 15, a 6.9-mill operating levy that will "allow the district to maintain both a solid financial footing and academic excellence."
"The Twinsburg Board of Education, administration, staff and students thank our community for supporting the Twinsburg City School District's 6.9-mill operating levy, Issue 15, on May 2," Powers told about 80 people at the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event. "We sincerely appreciate the support our parents and residents provided in the successful passage of Issue 15. The approval ... will allow the district to maintain both a solid financial future and academic excellence that our families and residents have come to appreciate and value."
Powers said the district uses several baselines to measure success, including student growth, financial success (the district received the Auditor of State Award with Distinction in April), facilities and grounds improvements and community relations.
"We want to make sure our students are warm, safe and dry," she said of the facilities and grounds fixes, which include parking lot repairs and roof replacements this summer.
The Twinsburg City School District prides itself on student growth, Powers said, from academic to behavioral and social growth.
"We're very proud of the things we offer our students," she said. "Behind every data point is the heart and soul of a child."
She admitted that the 2016 State Report Card was "somewhat disappointing," as the district received an A, a B, two Cs and two Ds.
"We have much to be proud of regarding our students and much work to be done to prepare them for life after graduation," Powers said. "Although the results from last school year were somewhat disappointing, we acknowledge that the Ohio Department of Education was and continues to be in a state of flux. I'm looking forward to the next report card with our curricular adjustments."
"The State of the Schools Address is merely a reflection of all that is going well in our district," saod Twinsburg Board of Education President Mark Curtis. "Although the state report card provides indicators from a moment in time, the update provides a much more comprehensive perspective of the Twinsburg City School District. As a district, we are very much in step with the changes in the educational landscape and well positioned for what the future holds."
Communication -- both in practice, through Cable 9, Tiger Talks, the Twinsburg Bulletin and other outlets, and in topic -- remains a necessity, Powers said.
Over the last year, the district has used these outlets, as well as community forums and telephone surveys, to inform on the need for new money.
"We will continue to be good stewards of tax dollars," Powers said.
The district has also taken on prescient topics separate from the financial in its communications, from discussions on the opioid epidemic to the launch of the Twinsburg Early Learning Readiness Coalition.
"The purpose of this coalition is to build a network of early childhood providers in order to build those very important early literacy skills of our youngest Tigers," Powers said.
But without reservation, Powers said the district's successes are a function of individual leaders -- principals, effective teachers and coaches -- as well as accomplished students. The successes of these individual schools and teachers highlighted the latter portion of Powers' address as she cited 16 students and 16 staff members, teachers and coaches, as well as various groups who excelled in the past year.
"With all of the changes in our world, our staff members must continue to be engaged in high-quality professional development," Powers said. "Indeed, education is evolutionary, therefore, our professional development opportunities must be likewise."
In the last year, Bissell Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School, while Wilcox Primary School achieved 5-Star Step Up to Quality status from the Ohio Department of Education. Twinsburg High School in 2016 was ranked the No. 14 best high school in Northeast Ohio; No. 46 of 866 in Ohio; and No. 1,152 of 22,000 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
Powers celebrated Lisa Roberto, an academic coach with the district, who was named to the 2016 All County Teaching Team, as well as Ohio Council of Mathematics Outstanding Teacher Michael Porinchak, of Twinsburg High School. She highlighted the historical success of the Twinsburg Concert Band, which received straight 1's for the first time in school history at a state competition, under the direction of Director Ryan Bonitz.
She boasted about Tiger athletic prowess, as football coach Mike Bell won his 100th game this year against North Royalton; Lady Tiger basketball coach Julie Solis notched her 300th career victory in 2017; and Tiger baseball coach Don Jones achieved his 400th career victory during the last year school year.
"Stories of our students and staff ... make me Tiger proud," she said.