LORAIN — Lorain Schools CEO David Hardy isn’t expecting a big leap in the district’s academic performance this year.
At a town hall event Thursday night where Hardy looked back at the 2017-18 year and looked forward to the upcoming school year, he said more changes were made upfront to the administration as opposed to in the classrooms.
“I know for a fact that when we get our report card scores back there’s not going to be a huge jump,” he said. “I knew that going into it. The plan was to get the foundation right, to get the right people on the bus and to get the right people to start us off next year.”
Hardy became the leader of Lorain Schools as the result of a state takeover due to several years of low scores on the Ohio Department of Education’s report cards, which are released in the fall.
He said when the data come back he expects there to be naysayers, but he made a conscious choice this year to focus more on administrative needs and less on classrooms.
“When we get our data and all of our academic data back, I am for sure thinking people are going to say, ‘Well, he didn’t change scores. Throw the whole thing out,’” he said. “But that wasn’t the focus. If you want something done quickly, we could have dropped a bunch of new curriculum on teachers’ desks. We could’ve mandated longer hours, we could’ve done a lot of things. But that would have just put a Band-Aid on the issue.”
Lorain resident Ike Amison said he wants the community to give Hardy and his plan a chance before they’re condemned, citing tensions between Hardy and the school board.
“You seem to be doing a good job, but you and the board seem to have an adversarial role and I don’t get that at all,” Amison said. “I’m surprised at some of the accusations going around. You deserve a chance to get it started. You can’t discount something after one year. You might have to wait two or three years.”
Earlier this year the school board issued a vote of no confidence against Hardy and president Tony Dimacchia and vice president Mark Ballard have said they will vote to put a renewal levy on the ballot in November only if Hardy resigns.
After the meeting Thursday, Hardy said his focus is to help move the district forward academically and improve the lives of students.
Hardy’s turnaround plan for the district, known as the Lorain Promise, was introduced last year. On Thursday night he introduced the Lorain Way, a document outlining how the Lorain Promise will be implemented.
“The Lorain Way is basically the outline of how we’re going to take the Lorain Promise and put it into action,” he said. “It outlines our collective and shared expectations of each other. It talks about how we should be building those relationships and how we as people can be celebrated and supported.”
For example, one of the commitments outlined in the Lorain Promise was to promote equity in the district, and the Lorain Way talks about how this can be achieved through “protocols and processes for daily, weekly and monthly rituals that promote character, equity and scholar well-being.”
“The district expects that leaders will create consistent, high-quality opportunities for celebration of scholars’ academic successes and demonstrates of core values of an action,” the Lorain Way says. “School leaders will honor building traditions when aligned with core values and empower teachers to create and implement new celebratory traditions.”
District employee Dave Newman said he thinks the Lorain Promise and the Lorain Way are setting the district in the right direction to move forward.
“I believe this Lorain Promise has given your team, our teachers, our students and this community a framework to be great about something,” he said.
At the Thursday town hall, Hardy also announced that the district will be receiving a $1 million, four-year grant from the Breakthrough Results Fund and it is one of only five districts in the country to do so.
The fund is led by Achievement Network, or ANet, a national education nonprofit. As part of the grant, 10 schools will receive support from ANet for four years, including a dedicated academic coach, instructional tools and professional learning opportunities.
“We found that through our need to improve learning and how we’re attempting to go after it, we were selected as one of the five systems across the country to receive this grant,” Hardy said. “It shows us that people are watching and see that this is a different day in Lorain and that we’re making a name for our city for the right reason.”
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