RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
August is almost gone and yellow buses return from their summer hibernation as students at Portsmouth City Schools head back to school today.
Portsmouth Superintendent Scott Dutey said the excitement is high among students and teachers alike.
“I think they’re ready,” he said, optimistically. “We get excited just like the kids do. We look forward to the first day, and are ready to get things started and try new things.”
This year the district will begin preparing for new content standards which will officially take effect in 2014.
“We want to continue to make strides with the number of indicators we’re meeting. We want to get all of our reading indicators. We fell just short of that this year. We’re starting to run out of excuses with our indicators. We want to be able to get our math indicators. We’ve made great improvements in science this year and particularly at the 5th, 8th, and 11th grade levels. Our scores improved by more than 20 percentage points, which is dramatic gain. We’ve struggled as a district for many years in some, and to see those kinds of gains and to have an opportunity next year to get those indicators — we’re excited about it,” Dutey said.
He said the district is still struggling with some state policies which make it difficult for them to succeed, such as the change in the way graduation statistics are calculated.
“We lost 10 percentage points this year in our graduation rate. We were almost 96 and fell off to 86 because they started calculating students who enter our district that may have few credits. We’re still required to get them caught up and get them in a position to graduate, and when you’ve got a junior or senior with very few credits… well, it is what it is and it’s up to us to try to get them as far as we can. They may not graduate, and that’s no fault of ours. They weren’t part of our district the entire time, and yet we’re getting penalized for it,” Dutey said.
Through it all, he said the district is staying optimistic. He said he was also looking forward to the opening of the high school tennis courts, softball field and running track.
“We’re wrapping up the track. The tennis courts, we’ve been working on resurfacing those and we’re hopeful that will be complete this coming Thursday and our kids will be able to get back on the courts next week. The softball fields — the buildings are starting to come down. We’re fully intent upon having the sod for the outfield laid by the end of September and then when the weather breaks really getting that filled and the facility ready for the girls’ softball season. I really feel that once those are complete, our facilities will be second to none in the state of Ohio,” he said.
Green School District started last week (Aug. 17), while most other districts returned on Monday, and Clay started back yesterday. Along with Portsmouth, Minford also returns to school today. Notre Dame and Sciotoville students return tomorrow, Carousel Preschool will start on Monday, New Boston returns on Sept. 5, and Southern Ohio Academy will return on Sept. 13.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.