Page 1

Centrally Focused

Pickerington High School Central’s J. Wood is focused in the

$50 Million Up For Grabs The State of Ohio has given PLSD a unique opportunity to receive an

classroom and on the field. On January 3, 2009, Wood became

additional $50 million to renovate classroom spaces, upgrade heating and

only the second player in District history to be invited

cooling systems and replace roofs at Fairfield ES, Pickerington ES, Violet ES,

to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which features the top high school football players in the country.

Ridgeview JHS and PHS Central. How can the District get $50 million from the state? Provide proof that it can maintain its buildings for the next 23 years.

Story on pg. 5

Story on pg. 2

The School Bell Our schools are moving in the right direction, but we need your help! It will take our entire community to carry the banner of excellence.

A Pickerington Local School District Publication

The State of the District Address

Harmon’s Terrific Trio

District to hold “State of the Schools” address in Spring The Pickerington Local School District will hold the “State of the District” address at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at Pickerington High School Central, 300 Opportunity Way. The evening will present the current status of the District both academically and financially, while providing insight into Superintendent Karen Mantia’s vision for the future of the Pickerington Local School District.

District Treasurer Dan Griscom reviews the state of: PLSD Finances


Today’s Economy


The Budget



Bowling for Charity pg. 9


Tussing ES students and staff strive to end hunger by filling bowls of clay with a little art.

Student Feature pg. 11

Treasurer’s Report pg. 8

Superintendent pg. 2


One very special Violet Elementary School student becomes a journalist to report on what her class believes is the world’s greatest science experiment.

Winter 2009 Issue 2

s e o r e h g n u s Un A

s the sun breaks over the city’s rooftops, there is quiet bustle in the streets.

At dawn they rise to welcome the patrons of the Pickerington Local School District. They are committed to the parents, staff and children alike. They are

the support staff members who arrive before the school day begins, working to bring

order, organization and efficiency to the staff who work for the children of Pickerington. They are the people, who in a previous life saved the lives of coal workers in Ohio mines and paratrooped in Vietnam. They are the men and women who create opportunities for Pickerington students, by selflessly paving the way for other Pickerington staff.

They are the unsung heroes of the Pickerington Local School District. Cover story on pg. 6

Safe School initiative extended to website Anonymous tipline is available 24-hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week The District has implemented the online services of the Safe School Helpline® (1-800-418-6423 ext. 359), a service that allows callers to anonymously report concerns regarding student safety. The Safe School Helpline® is a state funded independent resource developed for students, parents and staff members to help maintain safety and a positive school environment. “The Safe School Helpline® can be used as the school’s first line of defense. It can stop trouble before Safe School continued on pg. 3

“Our mission is to provide all children with an efficient and nurturing educational environment which create life-long learners who are socially responsible citizens.”

Volunteer in Our Schools!

February 2009 | The School Bell |


Karen Mantia, Ed.D. Superintendent of PLSD


reat school districts, like the Pickerington Local School District, have a special ingredient that makes student success extra rewarding. The involvement of volunteer residents makes all the difference in giving our kids the edge on success!

We have accomplished this with hard work of students, parents, teachers and all of the staff. This special recognition has also been given to us because of the wonderful volunteers who visit or work in our schools everyday. Their tireless efforts have positively impacted the way our students’ perform. However, there’s always room for more! If we want to take our schools to the highest levels of success, we need your continued help and support. We want to extend volunteerism in our schools at all grades and levels of education. Volunteers support our students and when that happens it provides the extra boost for our students. It’s fun to watch our students especially when they see their neighbor, business or community leader, elected official or parent in the hall or classroom. I extend a personal invitation to be a volunteer in Pickerington Local Schools. Please feel free to contact your local school building principal or District Office at (614) 833-2110. As always, thank you for your help!

$50 Million Up For Grabs

No-new tax offer from the state to renovate five District buildings to be placed on May ballot The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) presented the Pickerington Local School District an opportunity to receive an additional $50 million from the state to make renovations and upgrades to District facilities through the state’s Classroom Facilities Assistance program (CFAP). “This is a great opportunity for the District and taxpayers because it will qualify the District for $50 million in state money for school building improvements without asking for new taxes,” said Dan Griscom district treasurer. The original Classroom Facilities Maintenance levy was approved in 1997 and was scheduled to expire in 2020. The 1997 Classroom Facilities Maintenance levy will return to the ballot in 2009, to be extended for an additional 12 years. This action will provide the state the guarantee required. The original levy cost homeowners $15.31 for each $100,000 in assessed property value. However, tax reduction factors have reduced the original half-mill to the current rate of 0.364 mills, or $11.15 for each $100,000 in assessed property value. The additional funding will be granted once the District meets the requirement of the program. According to Rick Savors, communications director for OSFC, the District will need to obtain one half mill or cash equivalent in a special account to assure the state that it can maintain the newly renovated buildings for at least 23 years. “Basically, we want to make sure that a district has the cash available to keep the building going,” said Savors.

“We have a unique opportunity to receive an additional $50 million to renovate and upgrade five of our schools,” said Karen Mantia, superintendent of Pickerington Schools. “This is guaranteed money set aside by the state for the District, but we need to assure them that we have the ability to maintain these buildings in the future.” Approval of the extension would guarantee the additional state funding for renovations at Fairfield, Pickerington and Violet elementary schools, Ridgeview Junior High School, and Pickerington High School Central.

The School Bell The School Bell is a community newszine dedicated to providing in-depth coverage of the Pickerington Local School District. Its staff is comprised of District staff and students. Editor: Lee Cole

Publisher: PLSD Office

Copy Editors: Diana Myers, Sheila Henderson, Betty Conley

of Communications

Production/Design Team: Lee Cole Photographers: Lee Cole, Linda Ballog, Tom Sixx, Chad Timmons Contributing Writers: Jessica M., Lee Cole, Dan Griscom, Kathy Kelly-Long, Bob Blackburn, Karen Mantia Ed.D., Debra Delisle Illustrations: Ewart Da-Souza

PLSD Board of Education: Lori Sanders, president; Lee Gray, vice president; Wes Monhollen, Clay Lopez, Lisa Reade, members Superintendent: Karen Mantia, Ed.D. Treasurer: Dan Griscom

Photo by Lee Cole

For the first time in our District’s history we have obtained the state’s highest rating of “Excellent with Distinction,” an honor given to only 74 of the State of Ohio’s 610 school districts.

3 February 2009 | The School Bell |

Granting Awards

Photo by Linda Ballog

The Pickerington Education Foundation (PEF) has a long history of providing for innovative educational programs for the children of Pickerington. This Fall/Winter season PEF gave District teachers the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

Pickerington Education Foundation (PEF) Chairman Bob Wilson and PLSD Superintendent Karen Mantia, present Christy Thompson of Pickerington Elementary School with an award as PEF President Kathy Kelly-Long looks on.

The Pickerington Education Foundation (PEF) has been “Putting Education First” in the Pickerington schools since 2004. Founded at the suggestion of a parent, the Foundation’s mission is “to support and enrich the educational process of all students in grades kindergarten through high school in the Pickerington Local School District.” The Foundation accomplishes this by providing grants to teachers and district staff.

Intervention Tools for Students with Attention Deficits

Since 2004, grants have been awarded: • to every school in the district; • to programs in all areas of core curriculum; and • to programs in music, art, special needs, and physical education; and • to programs in health education and counseling.

Science Current Events in Education

Since 2004, PEF has given over $5,000 to programs in District schools, and funded innovative programs at all education levels. In all, 39 different programs have been funded and 64 percent of all proposals approved. The recipients of the Fall/Winter 2008 Grants are:

• Christy Thompson - Pickerington ES Grant money will be used to purchase prompting tools to help students with attention deficits stay focused during class instruction without verbal or physical prompting from the teacher. This will allow teachers to focus more on instruction and enable students to stay on task independently.

• Heather Miller - Harmon MS WR (Weekly Reader) News Senior Edition magazines purchased with the PEF funds will provide a variety of articles at a variety of reading levels so that all students can find appropriate articles for their monthly assignments.

Signs of Suicide Presentation • Heather Fairs - Ridgeview JHS Materials purchased with the grant money will help to educate all Ridgeview students about the warning signs of suicide and how to seek help from an adult when they are

concerned about their peers. This program is designed to reduce the risk of suicide in teens.

Traveling the World with Multicultural Literature • Angela Ross & Kay Williamson - Pickerington ES Books purchased with the PEF grant monies will provide teachers with approachable text for all reading levels for summarizing multicultural story elements. Successful students will be able to make choices from more challenging texts. At-risk students can continue to practice their skills with this text before moving on.

Write On Wipe Off Answer Boards • Ginny Miller/Robin Sharps/Ellen Weibel - Lakeview JHS The answer boards purchased with monies received from this grant will guarantee participation by all students, provide quick work-group assessment, support writing fluency and encourage participation by less confident students. Students will benefit from enhanced communication with their teachers as well as more opportunities to be evaluated, encouraged, and praised.

SAFE SCHOOL from pg. 1

it starts,” said Mike Smith, director of student services. “We are using every possible resource to protect the students and staff,” he said. The system can be accessed via the web or telephone. “There is a link on the main page of the website,” said Smith. “We wanted to make things as simple as possible.” When submitting a tip, users receive an identification number when they call,

enabling them to call back and get an update regarding what has been done to address the situation they reported. Reports can also be made online by clicking the Safe School Helpline link at

friends or concern about personal safety. It takes courage for kids to reach outside their inner circle of friends. We want to continue to provide a positive avenue of communication,” he continued.

environment. We provide children with

“The District has had this service for years,” said Smith. “All helpline tips are anonymous. The caller’s name is never asked.”

Security Voice, as the national provider of the Safe School Helpline®, provides a 24/7 communication service that empowers school administrators to make proactive decisions as well as creating responsibilities for students, parents and community members to share in the maintenance of a safe learning

The Safe School Helpline® has proven itself

“It can be difficult for students to talk in the presence of adults to inform parents and/or district personnel of a threat made against

the opportunity to anonymously report wrongdoing, bullying, and negative issues that would impede the learning process.

to be a very effective tool in preventing and deterring negative acts and practices from occurring in over thousands of schools. The Safe School Helpline will not tolerate prank reports and may be investigated.

February 2009 | The School Bell |


Dear Pickerington Students, Faculty, Families and Friends

Deborah S. Delisle State Superintendent


’m Deb Delisle, the new superintendent of public instruction in Ohio, and I’d like to thank Pickerington Local Schools and Superintendent Karen Mantia for this wonderful invitation to submit a column in your newsletter.

Your district’s ranking of Excellent with Distinction demonstrates your community’s support of Pickerington Local Schools. When parents, families, community members, and local businesses join together to support the students in their communities, they will excel. Districts like yours can serve as a model for our state and our nation. I hope you are proud of your excellent record. I am pleased to report that Ohio has been recently rated sixth in the nation in the 2009 Quality Counts report through Education Week. I know we often hear negative media coverage about education, but our state’s ranking in the top 10 demonstrates a commitment from communities and educators. Ohio follows Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and New Jersey as the sixth highest scoring state in the nation. Every January, education officials in every state anxiously await this report, which is highly respected throughout the country.

Delisle continued on pg. 8

Photo by Chad Timmons

I joined the Ohio Department of Education on December 1, after serving as the superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District for the past five years.

Members of the Special Education Department take a break from the retooling session. From left to right: Blythe Wood, Cindy Mowery, Sheila Core, Rick Brenner, Julie Pitman, Mindy Jennings, Heather Fairs, and Chad Timmons.

Change Can Be Something Special Pickerington’s Special Education Department has retooled its curriculum, redefined the goals and parameters of the department to serve as a powerful resource for District students


he Special Education Department has high expectations for its 1,066 identified special needs students offering a full continuum of services that emphasizes meeting the unique needs of each student. The Special Education Department at the Pickerington Local School District has seen many changes throughout the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, with the most significant change in the department being the way it delivers services to the students of Pickerington. In 2008, the department welcomed a new acting director, reduced the administrative staff, increased the number of staff directly providing services to students, and revised the roles and responsibilities of staff members. Acting Director of Special Education Bob Blackburn is a veteran in the special education field. He spent 10 years in London City Schools as the special services director and one year as a supervisor for Pickerington prior to stepping into this new role. One of Blackburn’s first tasks was to reorganize

the department to deliver superior services to the staff and students of Pickerington. The administrative team was reduced from eight to six members to achieve this goal. Tina Weimar, Kristina Hulse, Jennifer McComas, Kelly Holbrook, and Paula Brown are the special education administrators serving the district.

The department has also increased classroom support and assistance to families. Heather Fairs, District social worker, is focused on meeting the needs of our students at the junior high and high school levels, by working closely with individual students, their families and local agencies to coordinate needed services.

By doing this, the administrators are able to spend more time with teachers in the classroom, and serve as the district representatives at the individualized education program (IEP) meetings. This action increased their availability to meet with parents, and serve as another resource to answer critical questions and help families access services.

Our behavior intervention specialists, Cindy Mowery and Blythe Wood, are concentrating more on providing additional training and support to teachers on research based reading and math programs and instruction.

The department also added an additional school psychologist to help provide support as our special education population grows.

Assisting teachers with the implementation of these specialized programs in their classrooms as well as meeting with small groups of students to demonstrate how to develop good instructional strategies is the primary focus of the Special Education Department.

Our psychological team consists of: Beth Daniels, Rick Brenner, Chad Timmons, Julie Pitman, Sheila Core, and our newest member Mindy Jennings. Our psychologists are paired with a special education administrator to provide better continuity and collaboration.

On-going training on best practices in an inclusion setting has been provided to all teachers to help differentiate instruction in order to meet the needs of all students and help them progress in the general curriculum and meet grade level indicators.

PHSC Football Team Ranked 5th in State for Academics

Army Strong: OSU Bound

The Pickerington High School Central football team is the fifth smartest football team in the state of Ohio according to the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association (OHSFCA). The Tigers have received academic all Ohio honors from the organization. Only the top six of the 715 participating high schools throughout Ohio earned the coveted honor of academic all Ohio. Each of the top schools scored above a 3.70 grade point average (GPA).

Photo by Tom Sixx


n a Pickerington High School Central (PHSC) classroom, sits a quiet self-assured young man preparing for life beyond the classroom. Armed with a 3.5 grade point average, a gracious attitude and nationally recognized football abilities, J. Wood prepares to become only the second player in school history to be named to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. “It was a shock,” said PHSC defensive back and captain J. Wood. “The top 90 players in the country are selected. I was in awe, when I was told I would be part of the team.” The U.S. Army All-American Bowl features tomorrow’s college and NFL stars in a classic East versus West football game in the San Antonio, Texas Alamo dome. Selection is an important and prestigious honor for high school athletes. Through “Leadership and Teamwork in Action,”

the U.S. Army All-American Bowl provides opportunities for these young adults to further develop their own strengths in order to become the leaders of tomorrow. On January 3, Wood’s East team defeated West 30-17. Wood had two touchdown saving tackles in the winning effort and played on special teams as well. As a member of the Sunnyside Up and the Stand and Deliver peer leadership programs, Wood has strived to be a good role model both academically as well as athletically. Wood’s actions off the field continue to exemplify leadership and teamwork in action. “I try to be leader in all aspects of my life,” said Wood. “I visit elementary and middle schools around Central Ohio, twice a month. The kids look up to you, and you know that you have to set a good example for the younger kids.” According to Wood, his family has been instrumental to his success. They have kept him

Photo by Tom Sixx

J. Wood #7 Senior


on track when he had lost his focus. One of those times came in the seventh grade. “In the seventh grade after football, my grades weren’t where they should be, and my parents took me off of the team. I was always told: grades first, sports second. That helped straighten me out. After they took me off of the team I knew they meant business,” he continued. “Football doesn’t last forever,” said Wood. “I know I have to set goals and be diligent.” Wood has committed to play football at The Ohio State University where he expects to declare communications as his major. When asked how did he prepare himself for success, he simply stated God and family. “I thank God for blessing me with this talent, and my family for teaching me manners and respect. Once you are taught and given those tools, you will get respect and be respected as well.”

4-year Letterman

Part of 19 school records

Tackles: 35 solos, 34 assists

Averaged 7.2 yards per carry

First Team All State

4 Hits causing fumbles

Blocked punt for TD in Championship game

U.S. Army All-American Bowl Team

6 Tackles for loss

First Team All Conference

Led the team with 11 Thunderstruck Awards

8 broken up passes

First Team All District

2008 Best Defensive Player Award

2 Interceptions

First Team All County

2008 Best Back Award

One Int. return for a 72 yd. TD

First Team All Metro-Agonis Club

2008 Tiger Football Captain

The OHSFCA selects the allacademic team based on the team’s (22 starters, 11 on offense and 11 on defense) overall GPA. The Central Tigers collectively earned a GPA of 3.721 on a 4.0 scale. Senior linebacker B. Burgess, placed on the individual allacademic team with a GPA of 3.97. Only 66 of the more than 35,000 high school football players in Ohio qualified for the prestigious award. In order to qualify for the individual all academic team, the player must have a GPA of 3.693 or better. Burgess will be attending Harvard University. The Massillon Tigers were the top ranking team in the state earning a 3.819 GPA. The remaining teams that made this list in Central Ohio were: New Albany High School (9), Olentangy High School (17), Gahanna Lincoln High School (23), Dublin Scioto High School (27) and Independence High School (29). The OHSFCA is a non-profit organization whose objective is to promote harmonious relationships between principals and coaches in their respective schools concerning the administration of athletics, assist in promoting amateur interscholastic athletics, and help maintain the highest possible standards in interscholastic athletics and coaching.

5 February 2009 | The School Bell |

J. Wood

February 2009 | The School Bell |


Harmon’s Terrific Trio Armed with blood pressure gauges, band-aids, pencils and an extraordinary wit, Pat McDermitt, Mindy Rausch and Sharon Schmitz at Harmon Middle (PHMS) School keeps things moving forward. Known as the Terrific Trio, these ladies have gone beyond the call of duty for years, but then again, that is what defines a hero. At the pinnacle of the triad is Pat McDermitt, a secretarial phenomenon, swooping in to aid everyone from parents, to students, to staff. McDermitt does it all! Distraught students – no problem. Parent dilemmas – no problem. If a member of the PHMS family is in need, McDermitt launches the chain of support – no problem. Mindy Rausch, educational assistant is the first warm smile and soft voice that greets the public. At the speed of light, she graciously answers telephones, makes sure all classrooms are fully equipped with materials and personnel, tracks student attendance, and calls home to account for any students that are in question of an unexcused absence. She is destination determination for any situation that comes into the office. It begins and ends at Rausch’s desk. …And then there is Sharon Schmitz RN, MSN, the District’s health services coordinator and wonder-woman completes the triad. She is critical to PHMS’s and the District’s success.

In 2008, Schmitz launched the Wellness Committee, an initiative to promote good nutrition habits, created Pickerington’s first Red Cross Blood Drive, and provides district-wide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training. Not only does she provide personal care for students with special health needs, she also accompanies any student who may need emergency treatment at the hospital until the parents arrive. Harmon’s Terrific Trio is truly amazing.

Diley’s Sergeant-at-Arms Known to some as “Sergeant Carter,” Terry Fetty, may seem stern, but the greatest heroes can never completely conceal their gentler side. As the head custodian at Diley Middle School (PDMS), Fetty was a sergeant in the army for ten years and brings a similar bravo, self-reliance and army strong temperament to PDMS. His service to the school and to the entire District is remarkable. First one in and last one out, Fetty has come a long way since working on the eastern Ohio coal mines, where he helped save a colleague’s life during a partial collapse of the mineshaft. Reverting to the skills learned in the service, Fetty noticed cracks developing in the mine ceiling. He yelled danger, but


n u s Un

e o Her

Ordinary people extraordinary t

Illustrations Ewart Da-S


e doing things


johnnie Phillips

Food Services Delivery/District mail carrier servicing the entire District

Sharon Schmitz

Health Services Coordinator serving Pickerington Harmon Middle School

Mindy Rausch

Educational Assistant serving Pickerington Harmon Middle School



his co-worker didn’t hear him. Fetty ran over and knocked him out of the way just as the ceiling of the mine collapsed around him. The man was safe, but Fetty was hit by falling rock and was partially buried. He suffered a severe injury to his leg and foot. Today that vigor, stamina and limp remain his most defining features. Fetty is not willing to let the parameters of a job description define him. He relishes in a job well done, even if it means arriving at 3 a.m. to get a job completed without disrupting the school day or have the school day interrupt him. Ask anyone at PDMS, and they will say, Terry Fetty is uncanny.

Tussing’s Food czar She is captain nutrition, and the marvelous head chef at Tussing Elementary (TES). Her name is Kathy Klise. As the founder of the Health and Wellness Committee and president of the Pickerington Food Service Chapter of Ohio, Klise is an undeniable asset at TES. Committed to helping Pickerington children thrive, Klise took it upon herself to write a nutrition grant and organized a health fair at TES complete with vendors, giveaways and science-based demonstrations. Not to be limited to just the body, Klise also volunteers to read with students at the end of her shift to cultivate their minds as well.

Klise is mercurial with a spatula but equally as swift in creating projects to enhance the educational experience for students at TES.

Secretary serving Pickerington Harmon Middle School

Pickerington’s Johnnie Blaze Darting in and out of the District is delivery services driver Johnnie Phillips. Standing at five feet, eight inches tall, the former Vietnam paratrooper is not only a veteran in the air but behind the wheel as well. At 74 years young, Phillips is not only dependable, he has rendered himself available to all at a moments notice. An 18year Pickerington veteran, Phillips heart and depth of giving is a magnanimous force in the District. Also known as the gentle giant, Phillips has come to the aide of many staff throughout his career having served as mediator in intense situations, confidant to staff and students alike in times of hardship and mourning, and even serving as a personal Hercules for those who have fallen and could not get up. Without missing a beat, Johnnie Phillips not only delivers mail to District buildings several times a day, he also delivers an unyielding spirit of camaraderie commensurate with his lifetime of service and honor.

Terry Fetty

Head custodian serving Pickerington Diley Middle School

Kathy Klise

Head Cook serving Tussing Elementary School

February 2009 | The School Bell |



February 2009 | The School Bell |


Outdated bill still hurting Ohio schools

Dan Griscom Treasurer of PLSD


hat year was it? Jukeboxes were thumping to the beat of “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers. The movie “Rocky” won Best Picture. Alex Haley’s “Roots” was a best-seller. The Fonz had the girls swooning on the TV show “Happy Days.” Two enterprising young men started a little computer company and called it Apple. Bruce Jenner won a gold medal in the Olympic decathlon. The first-class stamp cost 13 cents (sigh), and the inflation rate was 8.7 percent. Did you guess...1976?

Now, 32 years later, the Bay City Rollers tune has long since disappeared from most jukeboxes, although it holds a special spot on my iPod. But, there is one item from the clues above that has had an extraordinary and lasting impact on anyone involved with Ohio school finance. It’s inflation. Actually, it is a byproduct of that inflation. House Bill 920, a law passed in Ohio in response to the high inflation of the mid-1970s, resulted in the high consumption of Tylenol among school leaders today.

The current economic recession has had a negative impact on the District’s forecasted revenues. The decline and elimination of some state general fund revenues, increased tax delinquencies, and decreased city income tax revenues all affect the District tremendously. The economy is struggling right now,” said Karen Mantia, superintendent of Pickerington Local Schools. “While, we are not immune, we will continue to conserve, conserve, conserve.” During the 2007-2008 school year, the district made over $500,000 worth of cuts in the budget. This year, the District has reduced its budget by over $570,000, yielding the District a net savings of over a million dollars. “Our revenues have been decreasing, yet our expenses such as utilities are remaining the same or rising. But I assure you, we are committed to extending our general fund revenue dollars as long as we can,” said Mantia. “During the 2007 operating levy campaign, our sights were set on staying off the ballot four fiscal years, but with the souring economy that has become doubtful.” “We need to go out on the ballot in 2010, to collect in 2011. It is my utmost desire to stay off of the ballot until 2011, but with a turn of the economy, that option seems unlikely. We will continue to tighten our belt and make every effort to preserve our funds as long as possible,” said Mantia. “We are making reductions, while striving to protect our quality educational programs. Being fiscally conservative is a must, and internal expense reviews are underway to find other ways to contain budget expenditures. We need to align those two items as much as possible,” she continued. Challenges continued on pg. 10

DELISLE from pg. 4

A conversation with the new State Superintendent Debra Delisle It’s like the report card your district receives from the state, only it’s on the national level.

takes an in-depth look at data and information about how states are assisting students who are learning English as a second language, known as This year’s report entitled Quality Counts 2009: English language learners (ELL). Ohio currently Portrait of a Population – How English-Language serves more than 35,000 ELL students. Our Learners are Putting Schools to the Test also top five languages are Spanish, Arabic, Somali, Pennsylvania Dutch and Japanese. The report concludes Here’s How Ohio Did that the nation needs to make improvements in serving a Overall Score 2009 Bgrowing population of students Students’ Chance for Success 2009 Bwho are immigrants or whose Transitions & Alignment 2009 Bnative language is not English. School Finance 2009 BTeaching Profession K-12 Achievement Standards, Assessments, Accountability

2008 2008 2008

For a detailed state analysis of this year’s report, go to

Griscom continued on pg. 11

File Photo

Being a baby boomer, I remember it well, along with the polyester leisure suits (which are best left forgotten).

District Remains Proactive in Dealing With Economic Challenges

C+ C A

When people from other states talk to you about the Buckeye State in terms of football or any other sport, you can tell them that in academics, Pickerington

is one of the best in the nation. As Ohio moves toward economic improvement this year, we are anticipating the unveiling of Governor Strickland’s education reform plan during his State of the State address. I will share the highlights of Governor Strickland’s reform initiatives with you in my next column. The State Board of Education has crafted a solid vision document that outlines specific strategies to support our students as they find their places in a global economy. This vision document will align with the Governor’s reform plan to ensure that Ohio’s school districts are clear about the vision and mission of our public education system. Please accept my best wishes for continued success. Know that the Department of Education is here to support you in your important work!

9 February 2009 | The School Bell | Photo by Lee Cole

Mary Sheirdian, art teacher at Tussing Elementary School prepares the students for the day’s art assignment: the empty bowl project.

Art for Change

The Empty Bowl Project Last March, the Pickerington Food Pantry sent out a call to the community for support to stock their shelves based on a growing need for services for community residents. The District responded resoundingly with numerous events. One school took this as an opportunity to make art to inspire others to help those in need. The students and staff at Tussing ES, lead by Mary Sheridan, began a fundraising effort called the Empty Bowl Project.

The artists took great care in making them - only four out of all that were made broke

School North (they contributed 25 bowls last year) and Ridgeview Junior High School will be participating as well.

“The kids were wonderful, they took great pride in their work,” said Sheridan. The experience provided substantial evidence/ affirmation about the students’ no-nonsense drive to ensure the success of the project! The first empty bowl donation drive was held in March 2008. It was an evening of celebration that included ice cream and socialization. It was highly attended; the faculty served over 1000 bowls of ice cream! Best of all, the students collected substantial quantities of food and brought in over $5,350 in donations! Currently, the students are making bowls for a second annual event to be held in March 2009. Students and teachers from Pickerington High

Photo by Lee Cole

“Each and every Tussing student made a ceramic bowl to be used to solicit donations (money and food) for the Pickerington Food Pantry,” said Sheridan, art teacher at Tussing. “Our staff was also offered the opportunity to make a bowl (or bowls) during after school workshops to support this effort. In total, the project resulted in the making of over 1000 ceramic bowls,” she continued.

throughout the process, with most bowls being handled three or more times during the process of making them (through shaping, base underglazing coat, decorative glazing, photograph documentation, and taking them home).

Four Tussing Elementary School students get handy with the paint brushes.

February 2009 | The School Bell |



Finding Refuge in a Good Book

We’re looking for a vital piece of the puzzle for our new schools.

March 10, 2009

at Diley MS, 750 Preston Trails Drive Media Center at 7 p.m. regarding the Sycamore Creek ES PTO n

March 11, 2009

at Harmon MS, 12410 Harmon Road Auxiliary Gym at 7 p.m. regarding the Toll Gate MS PTO n

March 12, 2009

at Harmon MS, 12410 Harmon Road Auxiliary Gym at 7 p.m. regarding the Toll Gate ES PTO

If your child will be attending one of the new buildings, please join us. Your child’s principal will be providing you with information regarding the PTO by-laws and constitution, Board Policy, and election of PTO officers. We hope to have the opportunity to meet all of you and look forward to the school year to come! Kristi Motsch, Principal Toll Gate ES Sharon Caccimelio, Principal Sycamore Creek ES Mark Jones, Principal Toll Gate MS

File Photo

The Pickerington Local School District will hold informational meetings for the establishment of the PTO’s for Sycamore Creek ES, Toll Gate ES, and Toll Gate MS on the following dates:


he declining economy has had an interesting effect on the Pickerington Public Library. Since 2001, the library has experienced an ongoing reduction in funding, while there has been a surge in visitors and facilities usage. “Circulation was up 9.6 percent in December 2008 compared to December 2007. More people are using the library service,” said Suellen Goldsberry, Pickerington Public Library director. “The library card is available free to anyone who lives, works, owns property, or goes to school in Ohio. The library has free wireless service, free computer lab usage with Microsoft Office software, color copiers and fax machines. Costs are lower too. Faxes are $.50 per page, color copies $.50 per page, black and white copies are $.10 per page,” she continued. These financial times have also forced the library to shorten its hours to combat declining revenues. The library staff analyzed daily patronage figures over the past several months, to decide which days would be shortened. Overall, the operating hours were reduced from 65 to 57 per week, and the staff was reduced from 29 employees to 20, by not replacing retired or resigned staff. Over 95 percent of the library’s operating funds come from the state of Ohio and as those funds dwindle, the

future looks grim. In 2000 the revenue was $1,294,320 in 2008 the revenue was $1,047,585. There are no local taxes levied for library operations. The only other revenue sources are income from fines and fees, which fluctuate greatly. Currently there are over $216,000 in outstanding library fines. With this in mind, Suellen Goldsberry the Library Director and the Library Board of Trustees, made a decision to lower the maximum amount of fines allowed on a library patron’s card to $5.00 from $10.00. Hopefully, this will generate payment of $14,000 of the over $216,000 owed in overdue fines due the library. The library currently employs a collection agency due to the exorbitant amount owed. “To end on a positive note, this is an exciting time for the library, our 100th year of service to the community!” said Library Director Suellen Goldsberry, “I often wonder what the members of the first library board and Dot Alexander, the first librarian, would think of the library if they could see it today. I believe that they would be immensely pleased and proud of the return on their investment of effort.” The Pickerington Public Library is working very hard to prepare for our centennial and there will be some exciting and creative programs planned. Please join in and celebrate the library’s 100th birthday!

CHALLENGES from pg. 8

777 Long Road Pickerington, Ohio 43147 (614) 833-2110

According to the district’s most recent forecast, the

The District is scheduled to open three new buildings in

elimination of the tangible personal property tax,

the fall 2009-10, while reducing spending. Additional

the declines in the housing market, coupled with

reductions will be recommended to the Board at a later

sharp declines in investment income, property tax

date. Some positions that will open due to resignations

delinquencies, and rising utility costs, have resulted

or retirements may not be filled, unless legally

in a projected negative cash balance of $12.8 million

obligated, and we may not fill open administrative

for June 2011.

positions for the 2009-2010 school year.


The Great Pumpkin Pie Experiment By Jessica M. Violet ES student feature

Brain Game 6 1

Students in Mr. Strausbaugh’s Violet Elementary School class were asked, “What is the most important ingredient in pumpkin pie?”

control pie, which we made so we knew what it was supposed to taste like. The other ten pies were made where we either doubled an ingredient or left it out.

Well of course, hands flew up all across the room, as eager students waited their turn. “Eggs,” one student said. “The pumpkin,” said another. “Whipped cream!” said one.

The ingredients that were changed were pumpkin, milk, eggs, spices, and sugar. Mr. Strausbaugh made sure that we had all the ingredients to make the pies. The cafeteria ladies were very kind to bake the pies for us after we made them.

Just then, Mr. Strausbaugh stood in front of the class and said that they were all good choices, but we had to use the scientific method to get the answer. This launched the world’s greatest science experiment, to discover, what is the most important ingredient in pumpkin pie. Well, we were on our way. We were about to do the great pumpkin pie experiment. After reviewing the parts of the Scientific Method, which we learned earlier in the year, we had to answer the question “which ingredient is the most important in pumpkin pie?” The only way to find out was to do the experiment. Our hypothesis was that pumpkin was the most important. “After all, without the pumpkin, you just have pie,” explained a boy. The first step was to make the pies. With the help of parent volunteers, the class divided into small groups, each group made a pie, 11 pies total. One pie was the

After the pies were made, our class examined them. We looked at each pie carefully. Everyone in the class wondered if the pie they made would be good or not. After lunch came our favorite part of the experiment, the tasting! Mr. Strausbaugh let us sample a little bit of each pie to see how they tasted. As we tasted them, we had to record our results. We had to describe each pie’s taste, look, and texture. For example, the pie with no sugar was really bitter, and the pie with double the eggs was really fluffy. Most kids thought the pie with double the sugar was great. Nobody really liked the one with no sugar. The pumpkin pies seemed out of this world. After we were done, we talked about the conclusion of the experiment, which is what we learned. Most of the class thought that sugar was the most important ingredient. It seemed we had a lot of fun doing the experiment. Everybody wanted to do it again, but we couldn’t. We hope that next year’s class will have as much fun as we did.











6 7

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Hitting the Target

Medium Sudoku from Pickerington Local School District is rated “Excellent with Distinction”

GRISCOM from pg. 8

The inflation rate fluctuated between 6 percent and 13 percent in the mid to late 1970s; prices seemed to be spiraling out of control. Double-digit inflation affected everything from a gallon of milk to the price of a house. When property values rose (those were the days!), so did the homes’ taxable values, and the homeowners’ tax bills. People got frustrated with paying those higher taxes along with everything else they were paying. Ohio legislators felt their pain. The result of this “revolt” was House Bill 920, passed in 1976 to prevent governmental entities like school districts from receiving automatic increases in tax revenues as property values increased. This may have made sense in 1976. But for the past 25 years, inflation has been much lower. So why do we still have a law whose

logic was based on double-digit inflation? Simply stated, as property values increase, HB 920 reduces the collected tax rates on voted taxes, so schools receive the same tax revenues as before. (An exception to this rule is new construction, on which additional revenue is received, but it is relatively small). Ohio schools historically have depended on property taxes for a large portion of operating revenues. In our case, property taxes make up about 35 percent of Pickerington Local Schools’ total revenues. Therefore, a substantial portion of our revenue is essentially flat, while our expenses for utilities, insurance, textbooks, etc. continue to increase. Many people wonder why there seems to be an endless stream of school tax levies in many Ohio school districts. The problem is, due to flat revenues caused by House Bill

920, a typical school district must pass a new operating levy every three or four years, just to keep up. The impact of HB 920 surprises many people. It is a curiosity why the legislature back in 1976 passed a law that may have made sense in that era of high inflation, but had no provision to allow for revenue growth, once inflation would return to a reasonable rate. It is true that in today’s economy, with property values stagnant or declining, school districts in general are not hurt by House Bill 920. But in the “normal” years of the past, and in the future when housing prices rebound, the impact of HB 920 cannot be ignored. In fact, some school finance experts have estimated that if levy rates and collections had been “frozen” in 1976, but afterward had been allowed to grow at a more reasonable inflation rate, then most schools would have been able to survive without

having to pass additional levies. So we would have arrived at the same place as today, but without the expense and confusion of thousands of levy campaigns across the state of Ohio. In his recent State of the State Address, Governor Ted Strickland proposed a new school levy option which would allow revenues to increase as property values rise. More analysis is needed. However, this is a promising idea that could help extend the time between levies. The bottom line is, no matter what obstacles we face, such as House Bill 920, and the current recession that we all are experiencing, the Board and administration of Pickerington Local Schools are committed to providing excellent education at a reasonable cost, and making our levies last as long as possible. We greatly appreciate your support.

February 2009 | The School Bell |

The World’s Coolest Science Project

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Superintendent pg. 2 Superintendent pg. 2 “Our mission is to provide all children with an efficient and nurturing educational environment wh...