First Year Reflections

As I write this, it has been one year since my swearing-in on the South-Western City Schools Board of Education, and it has truly been a wonderful experience. The number of events I’ve been able to attend, witnessing students and teachers at their very best during the holiday season, is the greatest gift of all.

The hallmark of the fall was the Issue 7 campaign. Issue 7 is a no-new-millage bond issue which (now passed by our voters) will replace Brookpark, Finland, Norton and Pleasant View Middle Schools, add an addition to Jackson Middle School, renovate East Franklin Elementary School, and complete other maintenance and infrastructure projects across our District. In the campaign for Issue 7, I was co-chair of our phone banks with fellow Board Member Cathy Johnson. On a weekly basis for 5 weeks, each of us simultaneously held two phone banks in different parts of the District, staffed by teachers, PTA parents and community members. These events contacted thousands of voters each week, leaving voicemails and having meaningful conversations with our residents. Below are some pictures from this busy campaign season!

I also was honored to attend a number of events around the District. From Football Friday Nights to holiday concert benefits, fall and winter are always one of the most exciting times of the year!

Finally, our actual meetings are always a joy. I learn so much from fellow Board Members, both within our District, and those in other Districts. One of the biggest things you learn in service to any Board is how much you don’t know going into it. This isn’t just in terms of factual knowledge of the District, but also in terms of the conventions of the District. There are many ways of doing things, or rules that are unspoken, that you just have to learn as you go - as you would with any new job. One year in, I do feel like I have a better grasp of some of these conventions than I did going in.

In terms of accomplishments of the Board, beyond the success of Issue 7, we have also witnessed increased presences of Communities in Schools and I Know I Can, which are going beyond the traditional walls of the classroom to enhance the experience of the whole child, whether assisting families with their needs, getting students information they need for post-secondary education, and more. The achievements of our Career Academy continue to be nothing short of remarkable. Every time I visit this building, I am simply amazed by the number of programs available to students - over 15 distinct career pathways, which often include certifications and real-world experience, are available. We also have seen increases across the board in student achievement, including a marked increase in our third grade reading levels, which is no doubt evidence of all-day, every-day kindergarten implementation. This is merely scratching the surface.

I want to congratulate some of my colleagues as well. Mindy Garverick (below with me at a Board meeting, using virtual reality viewers that our students have access to) has been named 2019 Board President, and Robert Ragland, Sr., is Vice President. Photo Credit Sandy Nekoloff, Director of Communications, SWCSD. In the second picture below is me talking with Lee Schreiner, outgoing Board President, who is also the incoming President of the Ohio School Boards Association.

Finally, I have continued reaching out to you, to hear your concerns. I try to attend 1-2 PTA meetings per month, and every Thursday have continued #TakePartThursdays, where I select a street at random to discuss your thoughts and concerns about the District. These were particularly helpful during the Issue 7 campaign, because I could answer people’s questions about the bond issue at their doorstep. Community engagement is absolutely critical to me, and I look forward to continuing these practices in 2019 and beyond.

Thank you so very much for the privilege of serving you. Our staff, students and parents are the most wonderful, diverse community you could imagine, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store this year! If you have any questions or concerns, or even want me to help volunteer at an event at your school, do not hesitate to email me at david.donofrio@swcsd.us, or call 614-327-6310. You can also reach me on social media - just find my name. Thank you!