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Photo of superintendent Jeff Brandt

Letter from Superintendent

Dear Highlander Families,

Welcome back for the 2018-2019 school year. I hope you and your family had a safe and enjoyable summer break.  As we begin the new year, I’m excited for our students and staff to return for the many new opportunities and experiences they will encounter. As we strive to continue our rich tradition of “Excellence” in the Oak Hills Local District, our focus will continue to be on sustaining long-term fiscal responsibility and health, as well as providing rigorous and challenging curriculums, which motivates and challenges each individual student to reach their maximum potential.

As the new year begins, we have had several leadership changes. Please join me in welcoming the following building leaders to their new positions:

  • Mr. Will Beinkemper - Oak Hills High School Assistant Principal
  • Mrs. Lisa Schlomer - Oak Hills High School Assistant Principal
  • Mrs. Kristi Murphy - Oak Hills High School Special Services Coordinator
  • Mrs. Kristi  Bashara- Rapid Run Assistant Principal
  • Mrs. Kelly Weldele - Food Service Supervisor

Also, we are excited to welcome the class of 2018 new teachers to the Highlander family:

  • OHHS: Amy Rone, Emily Gramke, Katie Macke, Ryan Quinn, McKenzie Roedig, Kristy Razzaghi (and JFD), Abi Rebholz, Courtney McCarthy
  • RRMS: Jacob Pratt, Shannon Quay
  • BMS: Ellen Leblanc, Erin Phillips
  • DMS: Susan Gillespie (Burdine), Kelsey McClanahan
  • RRMS: Jacob Pratt, Shannon Quay
  • COH: Kelly Livingston, Sabrina Stanforth
  • OAK: Laura Cullman
  • DEL: Fawn Miller
  • JFD: Leigh Cullum, Kierstin Smith

Finally, please welcome our school psych interns:

  • JFD/RRMS: Sarah Bidwell
  • DEL/OH: Paige Hater
  • COH/DMS: Kate Rice
  • OAK/RRMS: Julie Finan

I would like to thank all of our parents who voted on Issue 1. On behalf of the board of education, administrative team and staff, we truly appreciate your continued support and commitment to the Oak Hills Local School District. Although the results aren’t what we had hoped in successfully passing the levy, please know we are committed to the safety and security of all students and staff and will continue to seek alternative funding options.

Also, we will continue to implement safety measures, such as ongoing and improved training for both our staff and students. Unfortunately, we will not be able to employ additional school resource officers, mental health experts, security personnel, or upgrade building entryways or classroom doors. However, the district will be participating in the “Stop the Bleed” program, which is intended to help in a school emergency before first responders arrive.  Many of our staff have undergone training and the goal is for all staff to be trained, along with each classroom and transportation vehicle to be equipped with an emergency supply kit. Thank you to the Oak Hills Alumni & Educational Foundation and the many individual donors for funding this important initiative.

To reiterate key levy points from our previous communications, the August levy was an operating levy with two goals in mind. The first was to implement safety recommendations presented through our comprehensive audit. The second was to generate revenue for the district operating budget in order to maintain financial stability into the future without continuing to come back to the taxpayers on a more frequent basis, as the district is projected to be be deficit spending in the next 12-18 months.

The operating budget is broken down into three categories: staff salaries and benefits (85%), fixed costs (10% - utilities, special education related services), and discretionary funds (5% - curriculum materials, technology, general instructional supplies and equipment). Our budget is comprised of two main arteries: state funding (40%) and local funding (60%).

Ninety percent of our district is comprised of residential property, meaning the local portion of funding primarily comes from residents of our district in Green and Delhi Township. However, property values, on average across our district, have decreased nine of the last ten years and have reduced 13% since 2007.

Along with staff, parents, and community volunteers, the levy committee spent each Saturday going door-to-door in the community, visited both Delhi and Green township senior centers and various local civic organizations, participated in radio and television interviews, tele-town hall call, and sent several direct mail postcards paid for by the Citizens Committee. It’s important to note that zero district dollars were spent on pro-levy literature, mailings, polling, signs, phone calls or ads. This was all funded by the Citizens Committee. The district utilized our “One Call Now” notification system to remind parents of important dates and election reminders.

As part of our district maintenance plan, we annually make improvements to our district buildings and facilities, including, roofs, pavement, HVC, etc. These improvements are all part of a plan to maintain our facilities and were budgeted in financial forecasts according to expected life cycles. You may also see other projects taking place across the district that are privately funded with no taxpayer dollars allocated from our general operating or permanent improvement budgets. Specifically, the high school athletic department has raised private funds for a new scoreboard, track and the resurfacing of the tennis courts at the high school.

As a result of the defeat, we certainly learned from this experience and respect the process and the voice of our community. A clear message has been sent and future discussions with difficult decisions will have to be made moving forward. Due to filing deadlines and timing, we will not be going back to the ballot in November and will begin planning next steps as we move forward. We will continue to communicate with you as decisions are made.

Due to our deeply committed students, staff, families, business and community partners and alumni, we continue to graduate scholars who are successfully prepared for college and career opportunities. We are extremely proud of our students, staff, alumni and the Oak Hills community. I thank each of you for your continued support and Highlander pride. I look forward to another great year for our students, staff and families. I’m excited to expand each student’s educational opportunities and experiences, along with supporting each child to meet their maximum potential, and build and nurture relationships that will positively lead Oak Hills School District into the future. Go Highlanders!

As we begin the new school year, please visit the ohlsd.org and ohlsd.us for district information and helpful resource links.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly with district questions or concerns at (513) 574-3200.

-Jeff Brandt
Superintendent of Oak Hills Schools