Superintendent Rick Hanes
Piqua City Schools
During the past few weeks my articles have focused on the “best of the best” from the school year we just finished at Piqua City Schools. Writing those articles caused me to reflect on the advancement of our district over the past seven years that I have served as superintendent. My reflections have reminded me that we have come a long way!
April 2007 I vividly remember as my first month on the job. At that time, like many school districts in Ohio, we were several weeks away from a May ballot issue to increase revenue due to cuts in state funding and a sagging economy. Our district was not successful with our request in May 2007 and I was quickly placed in the position of planning drastic cuts within our budget. While cuts were made later that year I promised myself I would do everything within my control to not lay off teachers. I also came to realization that building collaboration was critical for me to accomplish to help get our district focused on success.
Teachers are at the heart of what we do and are the most single important element within our district involved in educating our community children. We are extremely fortunate to have a great teaching staff at Piqua City Schools and I am proud to serve alongside with them. Looking back I have kept the promise to myself to stay focused on our classrooms and can say that no teachers have been laid off because of budget cuts during the past seven years.
From the very beginning I have been able to work with our Board of Education, staff and community to develop Piqua-inspired principles which reflect our conservative Midwest community. A guiding set of fundamental principles which our community taxpayers can be proud! These principles have inspired our core documents including the Piqua Tax Payer Bill of Rights and our strategic plan which guide our daily operations. Our district and building collaboration teams work to carry out these principles on all levels.
From this collaboration during the past seven years we have been able to provide a quality education proven through state designated “Excellent” ratings. We have advanced our course offerings along with providing extended opportunities for our students. Quality has also been proven by our alumni recently graduating from MIT, Harvard and other great institutions. Our alumni continue to gain employment in fields in which they are successful and making a difference.
At the same time we have placed our district on a much more solid financial footing. As we close our financial books on June 10, 2014 I am happy to report that we have finished our seventh year of living within our budget and staying in the black for each of those financial years. Looking back I can share with you that this task has not been easy!
Our combined efforts as a community have helped to allow us to continue to advance. Since 2008 our community has supported our district at the ballot box by passing six requests including an increase in our income tax, four renewals of the operating and permanent improvement levies, and the bond issue to build our new elementary schools! We are mindful of this support and stay committed to being great stewards of tax dollars!
The great collaboration with our teaching staff has also helped in this effort. Because of the economy budget restraints forced wage freezes and concessions in our district for all staff members during the past seven years. Our staff remained focused on meeting the needs of our students and providing great opportunities and experiences. It is not by chance that community members see the cars of our staff members at our buildings well beyond the school day! We have a dedicated staff!
Just this week we completed negotiations with the Piqua Education Association. Our new agreement provides our deserving staff with modest wage increases and also provides them with the opportunity to earn incentive stipends for strong academic performance and operational efficiency. The contract also sets forth the foundation for health care plan options. This contract is a huge step forward for Piqua City Schools continuing to deliver a great education facilitated by an excellent staff!
My reflections of the past seven years also brings me to the reality that our work together is not done! With the new state standards, new assessments, new evaluations, and other new educational initiatives our collaboration is even more important now!
This past year we adjusted curriculum, professional development, classroom strategies, and staff to account for these increased accountability measures. We were awarded grants and have instituted them to address our areas of weaknesses. We will continue to analyze results, focus on sharpening our skills, and plan for a successful path toward increased student achievement!
I take pride in our work at Piqua City Schools and stay committed along with all of our staff members to continue developing a school district focused on providing a great education for our community children! A school district which makes our community members proud!
Rick Hanes is the superintendent of the Piqua City School District. Rick continues to ensure that the Piqua City Schools show residents the “Good Schools, Good Value” that they are each day. You can follow him directly on Twitter @raheducator.