Strategic plan update among highlights for Oregon schools in 2022

Kelly J. Kaczala

       Oregon Schools Superintendent Hal Gregory offered highlights in the school district from last year at a recent “State of the Communities” event at Mercy Health-St. Charles Hospital.
        The annual event is sponsored by the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce.
        Among the highlights: the school board updated its strategic plan.
        “Last year was great. All that COVID stuff is behind us. It was a normal year and we got moving,” said Gregory. “We updated our strategic plan with the board. We have five core goals and a number of objectives we’re continuing to work on. It gives us an internal guidance of where we want to go. We always want to get better each and every day. In schools, that’s hard because of the changing environment. But we’re working on it every single day.
        He also noted the dedication of the Carol Ann Molnar Performing Arts studio, which was in the planning stages for a long time.
        “It was really a nice long journey to get there,” said Gregory.
        The facility cost $1.5 million, he added. It was funded by donations, proceeds from the sale of land, and internal funds.
        “Kids are using it for dance and recordings. So it’s been a real highlight of our arts department,” said Gregory.
        Internally, the district has been working on culture, he said.
        “In today’s world, how you deal with things is what it’s all about. And our kids and our staff need to know how to deal with things.”
        The district has been working on the “Focus Three” program for a while, he said.
        “It’s really about how you behave, and that it matters. You want everyone to behave above the line. And above the line means you behave in a way that you are disciplined, not sheer emotion. We all know what that is like when it’s just pure emotion. You see it every day on the news. So that’s been a big thing. We introduced that to staff a couple of years ago. But it’s the students this year. There’s a whole set of techniques and tools to use to be able to do that. We’re very excited about that,” said Gregory.
        “We continue to grow,” he continued. “We have mental health in-school services. We are working with Drescher and Associates, a contracted service. We are very fortunate to have a partnership that offers mental health help to every kid who wants it every day of the week. “
        The service is “maxing out” as more students are in need of it, he said.
        “We have seven to 10 counselors. We have state wellness funds that we’ve been using for the past three years to do this. When you hear about mental health services, it’s a real thing nowadays - babies all the way up to seniors. It’s everybody,” he said.
        The district also expanded some of their programming, including an additional agriculture class, he said. “That was a big thing for us. It’s a growing program.”
Teacher shortage
        The district has seen a shortage of credentialed teachers, something the school board has been trying to address, he said.
        “Like everyone else, whatever industry you’re in, we’re short of teachers. Ohio has lost credentialed teachers by half. We’re trying to figure out how to get people to encourage their children to go into education because it’s a battle. It’s gotten some negative raps but it’s got a lot of positives to it. So we’re working on that with some of our own kids,” he said.
        Other highlights:
        • The district installed air conditioning in the Eisenhower and Clay auditoriums. “If you’ve ever spent time in either auditorium on a hot day, you know what a big deal that is. We’ve got two more gyms to get done. Then everybody will be happy,” he said.
        •Expanded the swim program with the YMCA. I’m excited that more kids will get that opportunity to be in the program,” he said.
        •Increased tutor and gap closing programs due to COVID. “That gap was pretty wide. We’re starting to see some closure of that gap with kids after a couple of years. So we have more ongoing tutor programs than we’ve ever had in the past,” he said.
        •The district will be part of the Northern Lakes League (NLL) this year. The school board in 2021 voted to leave the Three Rivers Athletic Conference and join the NLL starting this year.
        The NLL will be divided into two divisions: One large, one small. The large school division will consist of Whitmer, Perrysburg, Findlay, Anthony Wayne, Sylvania Northview, and Fremont Ross. The small school division will be Clay, Springfield, Sylvania Southview, Bowling Green, and Napoleon. Competing in the NLL will be good for Oregon. It allows for a strong competitive environment, limited travel and excellent fan experiences.
        “So that’s a big deal for Oregon schools. It’s a new set of challenges, but we’re excited about it,” said Gregory.


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