Dayton schools closer to possible state takeover than previously thought


Dayton Public Schools suddenly faces new pressure with the school year just a week and a half away, as the expected scores of 2018 spring tests would mean the district is likely only one year of poor results away from state takeover.

In 2016-17, Dayton and Trotwood-Madison scored lowest in Ohio on state tests, and Trotwood schools are one year ahead of Dayton on the same three-year span of poor enough performance to trigger a takeover. Trotwood is charging aggressively into the new year while knowing the state report card release in six weeks will determine whether it will become the third Ohio school district to be taken over by an Academic Distress Commission.

EARLIER: DPS subject to takeover earlier than they thought

Dayton officials, who thought the district had two more years to improve, confirmed Wednesday that if state test scores don’t improve this coming year, it could face the same fate in September 2019. Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said she already felt a sense of urgency because of the district’s years of poor performance, but she acknowledged changes will come because of this week’s news.

“It’s just made us more aware that we have less time, and that we have to truly, truly, truly have everybody feel that sense of urgency we’ve been trying to build,” Lolli said Wednesday. “We need to focus on anything that we can change immediately that will affect the results. … We were going to start doing analysis when the (official) scores were released, but now we’ve actually started that (Wednesday).”

DPS has already been making dramatic changes in recent months — about half of its 27 schools will have new principals this fall, and the school day will be lengthened by 15 minutes this year. Much of the front-office staff are doing new jobs, a new curriculum team is offering support to teachers and educational tools such as Imagine Learning and Achieve 3000 have been jettisoned for new approaches.

RELATED: Trotwood scores up, but takeover situation unclear

Teachers union President David Romick said changes made under Lolli have generally been good, and he praised the administration for involving teachers in key decisions. But as many have said, district scores didn’t fall overnight, and it will not be easy to raise them quickly.

“That’s a pretty accelerated timeline, particularly after the disaster that was wrought the year prior — the turmoil under (former Superintendent Rhonda) Corr,” Romick said. “(Teachers) have been part of academic retreats this summer, and we’ve worked on an academic model for classrooms. … That kind of good collaboration has been going on, but for that to be rolled out district-wide, that still has yet to happen.”

That type of change-in-progress has been ongoing at the school board level as well. Four candidates, backed by Mayor Nan Whaley, ran as a ticket to try to grab control of the board in November. Three were elected, and they stated interest in building a new, long-term strategic plan. But if takeover happens, their work could be finished just over a year and a half into their terms.

RELATED: Dayton schools approve major tax abatement deal with city

There are two caveats to the takeover concerns. It is not yet guaranteed that DPS will get an overall “F” on the state report card this September, which would need to happen to keep them on the takeover path. But Lolli said based on preliminary results, she does expect that to happen.

And there has been some movement to change Ohio’s Academic Distress Commission system, in part because Youngstown and Lorain, the two districts that have operated under ADCs for years, have not improved enough via that method to end the takeover process.

A bill was introduced in the state legislature this year to ban state takeovers through 2021, but it was never advanced out of committee. In addition to Trotwood, the Warrensville Heights and East Cleveland districts are subject to takeover this fall if their report cards don’t improve.

RELATED: Majority of DPS leaders saw jobs change in past 9 months

Romick said outside issues like student health, poverty and family support can be tough to overcome with the best of classroom approaches. Lolli called on families to support their children’s school efforts and tell district officials what DPS needs to do better. She said making sure kids are simply in school every single day is “the number one thing.”

“We have graduates who have gone on to be phenomenal people, both recently and in the past,” Lolli said. “Dayton Public Schools are not rolling over and playing dead because of the potential that we might be in academic distress. We are stepping up to the plate, and we’re going to hit a home run. We might hit a double and a triple first, but we’re going to hit a home run for the kids that we serve. We’re committed to do that and I believe that we can.”

PATH FORWARD: The broad effort to improve Dayton schools



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

New Mexico author sues hospital for reviving her 
New Mexico author sues hospital for reviving her 

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a New Mexico author alleges that a Santa Fe hospital revived the woman in violation of her “do not resuscitate” directive while she was in the facility’s care in 2016, the Albuquerque Journal reported. >> Read more trending news  The lawsuit filed in New Mexico state district court against...
Photo of Utah police officer cradling baby goes viral
Photo of Utah police officer cradling baby goes viral

A photograph of a Utah police officer cradling a baby while the infant’s mother filed a domestic violence report has gone viral, KUTV reported. >> Read more trending news  One of the clerks at the West Jordan Police Department snapped a photo of Officer R. Lofgran holding and bottle feeding the baby and caring for the woman&rsquo...
Deer wanders into Fort Worth children's clinic
Deer wanders into Fort Worth children's clinic

Workers at a children’s urgent care clinic in Texas were startled when a deer walked into the facility, WFAA reported. >> Read more trending news  The 2-year-old buck wandered into the Cook Children’s facility in Fort Worth on Nov. 10, the television station reported. "I guess he came in through the back ambulance bay...
Homeless man dives into dumpster to retrieve lottery ticket worth $4.82M
Homeless man dives into dumpster to retrieve lottery ticket worth $4.82M

A homeless Michigan man who realized he won the state’s Lotto 47 game dived into a dumpster to retrieve the winning ticket, WFMY reported.  The man, who chose to remain anonymous, was one of two people who split the $9.64 million jackpot with the winning $1 ticket he bought for the Oct. 10 drawing, the television station reported. He...
Police: Ohio woman with pants down asks, 'You wanna play?' 
Police: Ohio woman with pants down asks, 'You wanna play?' 

Ohio police arrested a woman they found rolling on the ground with her pants and underwear pulled down who asked authorities “You wanna play? We’ll play,” WKBN reported. >> Read more trending news  Denise Ruth Molina, 58, was arrested Wednesday by Youngstown police and charged with assault as well as dog ordinance...
More Stories