A Message from Superintendent Larry Knapp:
The Hamilton City School District Board of Education, Administration, Faculty and Staff look forward to a positive and rewarding 2018-19 school year. The district’s priorities of academic growth and school safety will be two major points of emphasis for the 10,000 students and 1,200 employees as they return.
Hamilton City Schools have made significant achievement improvements in 16 of 21 tested areas on the most recent state of Ohio report card, including improvement on all 12 secondary school indicators. The instructional initiatives and academic growth of students for the past two years is encouraging as we look forward to our continued growth.
One obstacle facing the Senior Class of 2019 is the decision by the Ohio Department of Education to revert back to the initial graduation requirements regarding end-of course assessments and required points.
These requirements do not allow for district autonomy in making responsible decisions regarding student graduation. The senior Class of 2018 at Hamilton High School saw a significant increase in its graduation rate due to the flexibility granted by the Ohio Department of Education to give school districts some autonomy to individualize student graduation pathways at the district level.
The concern of the district is the lack of flexibility provided by ODE in returning to the initial end of the course criteria could possibly result in a reduction of graduates in the Class of 2019. Hamilton High School and Hamilton City Schools are dedicated in our efforts to work with each individual student in order for them to achieve their academic goals.
The Board of Education members and district place safety as a top priority and have engaged staff, students, parents, and community members in regards to our safety and security planning. This positive and productive dialogue on school safety has assisted the BOE in the gathering of information as it considers next steps in enhancing our already well-prepared safety plan.
Additionally, the district continues its endless collaboration with Chief Bucheit and the Hamilton City Police Department on refinement and enhancements to all security measures.
The Hamilton community is not unique as similar discussions on school safety have been conducted in many surrounding communities, as this is a national crisis.
A recent study has been released that concludes schools in the United States are actually safer today than they have been in the last two decades. This data is encouraging and underscores the many enhancements the district has implemented to make our schools safe and secure. The district is always looking for additional measures, with community input, to refine our current practices.
The Hamilton BOE has made two initial decisions based on the feedback received from town hall and Board meetings and input provided via email.
First, the Board of Education has made the decision to include the district as a member of the Butler County school safety levy.
Hamilton City Schools is one of five Butler County districts included in this newly created funding mechanism facilitated through the Butler County Educational Service Center.
Moreover, the district is looking forward to sharing additional levy information with our community as funding for the school safety levy is a community decision and will appear on the November 2018 ballot.
A second decision involves a change in procedure and practice regarding our backpack policy at Hamilton High School. The new procedure for high school students (and a continuation of our middle schools and freshman building policy) will permit students to carry backpacks to school, but students will be required to keep them in their lockers during the school day.
A recent review of our school procedures by safety experts highlighted backpacks as a significant concern and this policy addresses those concerns and provides consistency throughout all our secondary buildings. Many of the larger districts in our area have the similar policies and restrictions.
The Board and district recognize this shift represents a culture change for some students but the high school administration and staff have a great track record of working with our students and parents as everyone is committed to making safety a top priority.
As academic growth and school safety highlight our district priorities, all members of the Hamilton City School Administration, Faculty, and Staff look forward to an exciting the 2018-19 school year.