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Ahead in 2017

Dr. Mike Johnson's Superintendent's Notebook originally appeared in This Week Bexley News.

Throughout my 16-year tenure in the Bexley City School District, we have focused on continuous improvement around six priorities supported by shared mission, vision, and values set by the community.

These strategic elements have guided the implementation of "Best Practices" in all instructional and non-instructional aspects of the school district.

The Bexley City School District is a recognized leader in the state and nation. The school district has repeatedly been recognized by the Ohio Department of Education, Battelle for Kids, Newsweek magazine and US News & World Report as among the best school districts in the country.

Bexley has been ranked 157th nationally for its high quality college preparatory and Advanced Placement programming. The school district, in the near future, is set to be among the top 100 school districts in the nation.

Since I announced that I will depart the district when my contract concludes this summer, I have supported the Board of Education members as they search for the district's next superintendent. The board, aided by the national firm HYA Associates, plans to recruit and hire the new superintendent well before my departure date of August 1, 2017.

We continue to encourage community engagement in the life of the schools by involving residents and school community members in the search for my successor.

The year 2017 will also seeing the passing of the reins from district Treasurer Chris Essman, who has served in that capacity for the past 38 years, to our newest administrator, Kyle Smith.

Bexley is in top financial shape, having just passed a ballot issue establishing the district's first Permanent Improvement Fund. An income tax approved in 2004 has helped the district weather uncertainties presented by economic crises and Ohio's school funding system. These actions will allow the school the school district remain off of the ballot through 2019.

The district begins the year with a long-anticipated site visit later this month by evaluators from the AdvancED accreditation organization. Bexley is one of only three districts in Ohio with all schools and the district having full accreditation from the venerable and internationally known organization.

Bexley Schools fulfilled several goals the board set for last school year, with all third-graders passing Ohio's third-grade reading assessment and all teachers using the common learning environment CANVAS. We expect to continue this track record, as well as increase ACT college-readiness scores by Bexley High School students.

Next year Bexley will implement a middle school housing grades 6-8. A transition team of parents, teachers and administrators continues to address areas of concern such as students' self-esteem; meeting the needs of struggling and gifted students; and orientation activities.

Bexley Middle School Principal Jason Caudill has hired a second school counselor for his building, as promised in his transition plan. He expects to present the results of a survey and recommendations about BMS lunch practices to the board in February. The grades 6-8 configuration was approved by the Board of Education starting in school year 2017-18.

I will be looking for other opportunities to lead and serve in education. I want to thank everyone for all of the respect and support demonstrated during my service to the school district. I have enjoyed every minute serving the Bexley City School District and want to wish everyone all the best.