With a commitment to bold action, the 25 members of the Columbus Education Commission today agreed on recommendations to change the course of education in our community.
“We are onto something,” said co-chairman George S. Barrett.
The recommendations, which cover six areas and implementation, will be delivered to Mayor Michael B. Coleman and City Council President Andrew J. Ginther on Tuesday.
Taken together, the recommendations offer the Columbus plan for improving education.
All parts of the community will be asked to do their part, with community groups helping to expand pre-K education, parent groups mobilizing neighborhoods and businesses providing career pathways. A new innovation fund run by a public-private partnership will help expand the number of great schools in Columbus, and the mayor’s office will devote a cabinet-level official to education.
These proposals will be revised based on the commission’s directions today:
- Implementation: A new community compact for educational excellence
- Effective teachers and principals
- High-performing neighborhood schools and more school choices
These topics were revised after the April 10 commission meeting.
- Students with a purpose (career- and college-readiness)
- State-of-the-art teaching tools, materials and data
- Every Columbus child is kindergarten ready
- Serving the whole child
Effective teachers and principals
Columbus needs a strong system that not only attracts talented educators, but also trains and rewards principals and teachers who best help kids learn.
Commissioners said the final recommendation should clearly call for that kind of strategic human-capital system — and to declare with urgency the need to attract great school leaders. Pat Losinski and others also sought a leadership academy that would create a home-grown pipeline of powerhouse principals.
The commission staff is using these and other comments to revise this proposal.
High-performing neighborhood schools and more school choices
Commissioners endorsed recommendations to give more authority to principals to run their buildings, but several questioned the right balance of freedom and responsibility.
Abdinur Mohamud said the final recommendation needs to be clear: Principals should be given the power to decide how best to serve their students, but they shouldn’t be burdened with more administrative responsibilities. Mary Jo Hudson said that a school district has a responsibility to foster a culture where all students are treated with respect. And Mary Lou Langenhop said the central office needs to act as a support system so that educators on the front line can focus their attention on teaching and learning.
These are other comments will be addressed in the final recommendations.
The final report calls for a new public-private partnership that would fund more great district and charter schools in Columbus.
For this partnership to succeed, it will need public trust, especially about how it uses public money. “Transparency is going to be key,” said school board President Carol Perkins, who was among several commissioners who raised the issue.
The discussion of the implementation recommendations also clarified several issues:
- To create a $30 million to $50 million innovation fund from public and private money, Columbus would need a new state law allowing some levy money to be used for purposes such as attracting great charter schools. In addition, local voters would be asked to support that use of their tax dollars.
- The city’s leadership, including the mayor, will be responsible for seeking any necessary changes to state law to implement these recommendations.
- The independent auditor who would review Columbus City Schools finances won’t have veto power over school levies. But the auditor will advise the school board about millage amounts and other issues.
After the recommendations are delivered, the mayor and council president will lead the process to ensure the report is implemented.
In other news, commission member Mary Jo Hudson updated the group today on the progress of the operations review of Columbus City Schools. Of a $1.3 billion budget, Columbus spends $412 million annually on non-instructional expenses.
The review won’t suggest cuts, but it might identify areas where efficiencies in non-teaching areas could generate more money for classrooms.
That work is not yet complete, so the mayor will appoint a working group from the commission to finish the review by July 1.
The final recommendations will be posted to this site and announced on our Twitter feed: @ReimagineCbusEd.