Batavia Local Schools

Dedicated to Excellence

800 Bauer Avenue
Batavia, OH 45103
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Bulldog Bulletin

Bulldog Bulletin

Keith Millard's Blog Page
Bulldog Bulletin - May 20, 2017
Posted 5/20/2017 at 7:30:03 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

I’ll start this week’s bulletin by congratulating all of the seniors who graduated last evening at BB&T Arena on the campus of Northern Kentucky University.  It was a wonderful ceremony the provided a great send-off to our students as they begin the next chapter in their lives.  Tonight we will hold the annual alumni banquet at the elementary school, and celebrate the legacy of those who continue to stay vitally connected to the work of the District and the support of our students.

This week marks the official close of the school year, with the last day for students on Wednesday, May 24th. We will return to school on Wednesday, August 16th.

In a continuation from the last Bulletin, I have two additional announcements to share regarding investments we are making with remaining dollars from the elementary project. First, long needed repairs to the parking lot where Bulldog Place meets the high school staff parking lot will be made this summer. As the entrance off of Batavia Road has enhanced the flow of traffic for the entire campus, this repair will certainly benefit all campus users. Work is expected to be completed in the first two weeks of August in time for the opening of school.

Second, a decision has been made to make a major investment in technology at the high school and middle school campuses. At the high school we are purchasing 540 chromebooks to create a 1 to 1 computing environment beginning in the fall. At the middle school we are purchasing six additional chromecarts to bring our student to device ratio to a 1 to 1.5 ratio. This is a major gamechanger for our students and will allow teachers to leverage digital resources in a way not possible in an environment where there are limited devices that have to be frequently signed out and shared.

With this infusion of technology, we are changing our ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy beginning in the fall. Students will be permitted to bring keyboard enabled devices of tablet size or larger to use throughout the school day at the direction of the classroom teacher. The expectation for cell phones is they will be turned off and stored in a backpack or locker with the exception of lunchtime.

When the district BYOD policy was enacted several years ago, there was great excitement around the country regarding the potential of cell phones to enhance the academic experience for students. As time has unfolded, what has been found throughout the field of education is that mobile devices have actually hindered academic achievement, and that the devices that add the most value are those with a physical keyboard and larger form factor.

By moving away from cell phones in the classroom and towards the use of chromebooks, the goal is to increase access to digital tools that are beneficial to student learning while at the same time reducing the distractions that fragment attention spans and reduce students’ ability to engage deeply with content.

Finally, for our elementary school students, there was a significant investment made in devices when the building opened, and the plan is to build on this investment again beginning in the 2018-2019 school year (for context, up until now the high school only had three chromecarts for the entire building, thus necessitating the focus on investing in that part of the campus at this time).

As we enter the summer months, the Bulldog Bulletin will be published once in June and once in July. Regular bi-weekly publications will resume in August.

Best wishes for the summer season and safe travels for wherever you are heading.


All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - May 6, 2017
Posted 5/6/2017 at 7:31:37 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

A core principle I try to live by both personally and professionally is to be a strong steward of resources that have been entrusted to me. In my time in the District, a key focus has been the successful completion of the elementary project in a fiscally responsible manner. At the outset of the project several years ago, a big concern was being over budget and decisions that could be made to reduce costs. A swing in fortunes, including construction bids that came in much lower than expected and decisions by the State to fund parts of the project that originally were supposed to be paid for by local dollars, quickly put the project on a path to come in under budget. As construction got underway and the building began to take shape, the focus became how to strategically make enhancements to the building that added value to the project while still staying under budget. Given the successful first year the new building has enjoyed, it certainly appears that the right balance was found in delivering a building that stayed under budget while simultaneously gaining enhancements that added to the durability and longevity of the structure.

This summer the elementary project will officially come to a close, and we will turn our sights to the next phases of the master facilities plan that was created during the 2007-2008 school year. While the majority of the savings from the elementary project simply reduced the amount the District owes on the building, there is a portion of funds left due to careful money management that we have the ability to re-invest in additional improvement projects that will benefit the campus at Bulldog Place, the students, and the entire Batavia community.

The first enhancement project, which was announced at the April Board of Education meeting, is the construction of tennis courts just beyond the outfield fence of the softball field. While this project was not originally at the top of the list when considering next steps after the elementary school, the receipt of a sizeable private donation has made this project a natural first step in the next phase at Bulldog Place. Construction of the tennis courts is expected to begin this summer and be completed in the fall. Over the next few months there will be several additional announcements regarding investments that will be made with remaining funds that will add value to the experience students have in Batavia.

Another exciting announcement that was made at the April Board Meeting was the passing of a resolution to enter an active planning phase with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to complete the District’s master facilities project, which includes constructing a new middle school at Bulldog Place and renovating the high school. In order to complete the master facilities plan, the goal is to return to the ballot in November 2018 to secure our local share to fund the new middle school and renovated high school, along with funding to renovate and enhance the athletic facilities (which must come only from local dollars and is not shared with the State).

While there are still many details to be worked out, here is a rough timeline and a locational image based on information currently available:


While projects of this scope can certainly be daunting, the District has several opportunities to take advantage of favorable financial conditions from the State to finish the master facilities plan and create a campus at Bulldog Place that will benefit not only the students but will create value for the entire Batavia community. The next eighteen months leading up to the November 2018 ballot measure will be an exciting time of planning and visioning as we look towards the completion of this project. There will be numerous opportunities to be involved in this work, and I look forward to working with the entire community on a project that will be truly transformative for Batavia.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on May 20th.

All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - April 21, 2017
Posted 4/21/2017 at 7:01:10 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]
Loss is hard. It’s hard to talk about, think about, write about. You are most likely aware that the District suffered a loss on Monday with the passing of Mike Hatfield after a brave fight against an illness that was elusively difficult to stave off.

Mike taught at Batavia High School for 19 years, beginning in 1998. In addition to being a respected science and CBI teacher, Mike was a well loved basketball and track coach. When Mike first became ill, he was able to make it into school the majority of the time. As time wore by, Mike was able to come to work less frequently, until late last fall when he was unable to come back at all. What was interesting to observe during this time is how much Mike was missed when he couldn’t make it into work. I mean really missed. The care and concern on the part of staff and students was evident, and didn’t dissipate as Mike’s appearances at school dwindled. You can always tell the type of impact a person has on a place by how people react when the person is gone. Mike made an impact on those he worked with, was a difference maker for the kids he taught and coached, and he was a critical piece of what made the high school a unique, special place to be.

Mike lived a life worthy of celebration, and I’ll close the Bulletin this week by extending an invitation to the visitation (1PM) and memorial service (2PM) which will be held at Batavia High School on Saturday, April 22. While loss is hard, it can be mitigated by coming together as a community in remembrance of a life well lived.

All the best,

Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - April 8, 2017
Posted 4/7/2017 at 8:11:28 PM by Keith Millard [staff member]

The return from Spring Break has ushered in state testing season for students all across the State of Ohio. This past week many of our students began their English tests, which will be followed over the next several weeks by math as well as science and social studies in certain grades. I am proud of the effort I have seen our students giving in all three buildings and want to thank our teachers and staff members for the work they put in all year year long as they provide quality learning experiences for our students.

The eight weeks after Spring Break to the end of the year always seems to fly by. With that in mind, here are some important dates for the calendar:

April 14 - No School

April 17 - Board Meeting (6:30 - Batavia High School)

April 20, 21, 22, 23 - Shrek, The Musical - Batavia Elementary School Stage

April 27 - Elementary Art Show (5 - 7PM)

May 4 - Middle School Band Concert (7PM at the Batavia Elementary School Stage)

May 9 - Middle School Choir Concert (7PM at the Batavia Elementary School Stage)

May 11 - Senior Awards at Batavia High School

May 11 - Kindergarten Orientation Night

May 15 - Board Meeting (6:30 - Batavia High School)

May 15 - High School Band Concert and District Art Show (6PM Batavia Elementary School)

May 17 - High School Choir Concert (6PM Batavia Elementary School)

May 19 - Graduation (BB&T Arena @ Northern Kentucky University)

May 20 - Batavia Alumni Dinner at Batavia Elementary School

Finally, work is well underway on our website re-design, and we’ve reached an important milestone of going from whiteboard concept to first coded draft. In addition to a new, cleaner look, information is being reorganized to reduce the amount of clicks necessary to access information.




Over the next several months we will be migrating information to the new site, testing functionality, and will be live with it at some point this summer.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on April 22nd


All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - March 25, 2017
Posted 3/25/2017 at 8:39:29 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

A brief Spring Break edition of the Bulldog Bulletin:

A lack of snow days this winter has certainly made this year’s break more highly anticipated than most!

When we return to school on Monday, April 3rd we enter the time of year that is busy all the way through the close of the school year. With so much going on, just a few reminders about ways in which information is communicated. Each building sends out a weekly bulletin that is distributed via OneCallNow to the email addresses we have on file. If you are not receiving these emails, please contact your child’s building to update your email information (if you have children in more than one building, you only have to contact one building to make information changes). Weekly updates are also posted to the website of each building.

In addition to weekly updates, information about day to day happenings is shared via Twitter. The good news is you don’t need to have a Twitter account or even know how to use Twitter to keep up to date. Here are the links you can use that will provide access to information as it is released:

High School: https://twitter.com/batavia_hs

Middle School: https://twitter.com/BataviaBMS

Elementary School: https://twitter.com/batavia_elem

Athletics: https://twitter.com/BataviaSports

School District: https://twitter.com/bataviaschools

Superintendent: https://twitter.com/blsd_super

Finally, this past week we began the spring testing season by having all Sophomores take the Pre-ACT and Juniors take the ACT. It is exciting to have the opportunity to provide this experience to all students as they work to prepare themselves for the next stages in life after high school. In addition, our Freshmen had the chance to visit several local colleges and our Seniors participated in a day of community service while the Sophomores and Juniors tested. Special thanks to the staff at the high school for making this day a success.

I hope the break provides a time to re-energize as we look towards an exciting spring full of events that will bring the school year to a successful conclusion.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on Saturday, April 8th.

All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - March 11, 2017
Posted 3/11/2017 at 8:39:21 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

Earlier this week I participated in an excellent parent focus group meeting at the high school. (Quick editor’s note: I’ve been to these meetings in all three buildings...great things are happening...if you would like to participate, here are the next dates and times for each building - BHS 5/23 5PM, BMS 3/22 7PM, BES 3/14 5PM) ...we’d love to have you!). Lots of really good things were discussed...below are some of the highlights I felt would be beneficial to share with everyone.

A conversation centerpiece from the evening focused on ways the school can continue to spread the message about the dangers of drug and alcohol use for young adults. Before the end of the year there will be two different educational opportunities for students at the high school. Beyond that...here are a few more tools for parents:


  1. X-Plan - This was shared by one of the parents who participated in the meeting, and I immediately started thinking about ways to use this with my own kids….Long story short, it’s a very clever way for your kids to communicate with you if they ever find themselves in a situation where they are uncomfortable and need a way out. If you’re curious to learn more, click the link below: https://bertfulks.com/2017/02/23/x-plan-giving-your-kids-a-way-out-xplan/


  1. Start Talking Ohio - I’ve written about this tool in previous bulletins. It’s an initiative from the Governor’s office designed to provide parents with tools to communicate with their children about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. (Factoid - Children of parents who talk to their teens about drugs are up to 50% less likely to use.) More information can be found here: http://starttalking.ohio.gov/

Another topic of conversation centered on school safety. As part of the website re-design project, a page is being created that contains resources on all of our school safety initiatives in a single location. Also, feedback from the meeting indicated that there is a desire on the part of parents to learn more about safety procedures and protocols that are in place. We will be working to put together an evening meeting for parents who want to know more about our safety planning in the near future (example - What ARE the students really taught to do in an ALICE drill anyways?).

Finally, there was a desire expressed in the meeting for additional parent resources to be able to keep up with the ever changing landscape of social media. While there is lots that can be written and shared on this topic, here are two tools to get you started:

This short article from Noodle contains seven quick ideas for promoting a positive presence with social media and each idea is a great conversation starter if you are looking for ways to discuss social media with your kid(s).

https://www.noodle.com/articles/how-to-help-your-teen-have-a-positive-social-media-presence

While new social media sites seem to show up every day, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook still dominate the social media landscape. The link below will take you to an article that explores coming trends for each of these sites to help you keep up with the latest ways kids are using these platforms.

https://blog.bufferapp.com/state-of-social-media

One of my core beliefs as Superintendent is that the District is strengthened through vibrant partnerships with parents. The feedback gained from in-person parent focus groups and web based surveys has a significant impact on decisions made in the service of students and the community. Thanks for continuing to engage with your ideas and feedback and for the opportunity to work with your kids on a daily basis.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on March 25.

All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - February 25, 2017
Posted 2/25/2017 at 8:39:03 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

The close of February marks the winding down of winter sports season and the transition towards a busy spring of events and activities in the District. Last night (2/24) our girls basketball team concluded their season in the sectional finals after a strong tournament run. Our boys basketball team gets underway with tournament play today, and our wrestling team is in the middle of their two day sectional tournament today as well. Special congratulations go out to our 7th grade girls basketball team, who won the SBAAC league tournament with a victory last Saturday (2/18) in a hard fought game against Goshen.

As we head into March and our transition between the winter and spring sports seasons, there are a number of academic items on the calendar to be aware of:


  • For those students who are interested in participating in College Credit Plus for the 2017-2018 school year, the deadline to submit ‘intent to participate’ forms is April 1st. More information on CCP, as well as a wealth of information regarding college and career planning, can be found on our High School Guidance page: http://www.bataviaschools.org/Guidance.aspx

  • New for our juniors this year will be a school wide administration of the ACT that will occur on Tuesday, March 21st. Also on the 21st the sophomores will take the Pre-ACT, the freshman will participate in a college visit, and our seniors will have the opportunity to engage in a day of service in the community. Free resources to prepare for the ACT can be found here: https://goo.gl/U3QcSR

  • Our 8th grade students will visit the high school during the day on Monday, February 27th, with an evening parent meeting also on the 27th from 5:30 to 6:30. More information is here: http://www.bataviaschools.org/protected/ArticleView.aspx?iid=5U3322&dasi=3302

  • At the elementary school the students and staff are excited to celebrate ‘Right to Read’ week from February 27 - March 3. I’m excited to have the chance to take part in the activities of this important week and also want to personally encourage at least 30 minutes of device free time each evening spent with a book. It is time that absolutely makes a difference in the academic lives of our students.

  • Also at the elementary, the spring K-2 Literacy Night will be held on Thursday, March 9th. There are a number of great reading activities planned for this evening with lots of guest reader surprises.

  • Finally, the end of the third quarter is March 10, 2017, with fourth quarter beginning on Monday, March 13th.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on Saturday, March 11th.

All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - February 11, 2017
Posted 2/11/2017 at 8:48:01 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

I hope everyone is doing well as we continue through alternating days of winter(ish) and spring temperatures. This edition of the Bulletin has several behind the scenes updates to share.

Federal Programs Audit: Roughly four (4) percent of the District’s operating budget comes from the Federal Government in the form of grants. Title I, a grant program designed to increase student achievement in the areas of reading and math, is an example of a program that is funded by grant dollars. Over the past several months the District has participated in an audit of how these funds are used, and it is a process that every school district is required to complete. I am happy to report that the District had a very successful audit, and our reviewer was highly complimentary of both our fiscal processes and the ways in which we serve our students.

Website Refresh Project: Work is continuing on the planning phase for the refresh of the District and Building websites. The goals of the refresh are to create a cleaner, more modern space that is easier to navigate and contains fewer steps to access information. Your feedback on both the current site and sites we are exploring for ideas are important parts of this process.

To provide feedback on the current website, please click HERE.

To provide feedback on sites we are exploring for design ideas, please click HERE.

Work will continue on this project throughout the next few months with an anticipated late spring/early summer launch of the new sites.

Parent Portal Project Update: In the January 14th edition of the Bulletin the plans for a new online parent portal were shared. This past week we received the first beta version of the parent portal site from the development team we have partnered with. The image below (from left to right) shows a glimpse of the student enrollment front page dashboard, the development notes and feedback log, and a partial view of the student registration page. A second beta version of the portal is due next week, and the plan is to conduct a ‘soft-launch’ of the portal for Kindergarten registration this spring. Once fully developed, the parent portal will be the one stop access point for completing forms, updating contact information, viewing meal account data, paying fees, and interacting with ProgressBook.

Picture of three computers that display a beta version of the new parent portal along with changelog notes



Finally, a few shout outs this week:


  • The BHS Mock trial team had an outstanding season that came to a conclusion in a well presented set of regional competition matches.

  • AQT finished their regular season at 10-1 with a thrilling overtime victory against New Richmond on Senior Night.

  • The high school Interact Club won a contest against the Batavia Rotary by having the highest number of service hours during the Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringing challenge.

  • Be A Friend Club members at BMS, for their work on the Kindness Challenge.

  • All of the students at BES and BMS who participated in the Jim ‘Basketball’ Jones assemblies this week. You represented our schools well and received lots of positive messages in the process.

  • Thanks to all of the parent volunteers who have worked with our youth basketball players this season. It’s been fun to see the various teams recognized at halftime of the high school varsity games this season. Also, thanks to all of the volunteers with the youth wrestling program. Lots of hard work and learning of the sport happening at the middle school each evening!


The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on Saturday, February 25th.

All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - January 28, 2017
Posted 1/28/2017 at 6:20:28 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

A thing I love about my job are the interactions I get to have with staff and students on a daily basis. It allows me a behind the scenes look at how the District operates that I believe is important to share. In the bulletins over the remainder of the year I will be highlighting various groups that operate a bit more behind the scenes but are essential to the running of the District day in and day out.

One of the departments that has experienced the biggest change this year is Food Service. Our switch to partnering with Aramark for cafeteria management has brought a number of positive changes in all three buildings.

First, there has been a commitment to adding new menu items and in listening to the students regarding their food choice likes and dislikes. New items include: boneless wings, oriental dishes, popcorn chicken bowls, penne chicken alfredo, and rotating fresh salad options. Also coming before the end of the year is a middle school salad bar, middle school chicken nugget bar, and high school deli bar.

Second, at the elementary school we have introduced a breakfast in the classroom option for all students. This has made it easier for students to participate in the breakfast program by eliminating cafeteria lines just as students are entering the building. Also, the number of entree options has been increased at the elementary school as there is now space in the new kitchen for more offerings. Finally, students have the option of purchasing fresh salads each day, which have been a very popular addition to the menu.

Third, each cafeteria is working on engaging students and making the lunch experience a positive one. During two weeks of each month, new menu promo items are available as samples for students, and students also have the ability to request a sample of any entree menu item they are interested in but would like to taste first prior to buying. Middle and high school students also have the opportunity to provide feedback online and are eligible for a free snack item just for participating.

Finally, you can’t run any operation without people, and while I may be biased, I believe there are no better food service employees than the ones we have in Batavia. A special thank you to them for their work in serving our students throughout the year.

Batavia Middle School

File_005.jpeg

Pictured (left to right) Brenda Thomas (Food Service Director), Mitzi Billingsley,

Bobbie Taulbee Not Pictured: Denise Palmer

Batavia Elementary School

File_002.jpeg

Pictured (left to right) Connie Morgan, Jeneatta Elliot, Shawna Ball, Barb Kennedy

Not Pictured: Barb Collister, Dave Denton

Batavia High School

File_001.jpeg

Pictured (left to right) Marsha Mathers, Jackie Oder, Tammy Teague, Donna McKinney

Not Pictured: Linda Dorsey

Finally, we’ve kicked off the website re-design project, and are looking for feedback as we make design and content decisions.

The three goals of this project are:

  • Create a more modern, visually appealing site that is easy to navigate.

  • Re-organize content in ways that reduce the number of clicks necessary to reach information.

  • Improve the website experience on mobile devices.

To give feedback on the current site and recommendations you have for reorganizing content, click HERE.

To view concept sites and provide feedback on what you like and dislike about their designs, click HERE.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on Saturday, February 11th.

All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - January 14, 2017
Posted 1/14/2017 at 5:06:18 PM by Keith Millard [staff member]

Welcome back to the second half of the school year in what has been the warmest first half of January that I can remember. (I know I’m probably in the minority rooting for warm weather at this time of year!)

This edition of the Bulldog Bulletin is being written from New Jersey, where I am visiting family over the holiday weekend. Unfortunately, taking the last flight out on Friday night means running the risk of delays, and my 6:30 PM flight ended up not leaving until 10:45 PM. The good news was that thanks to the airline app I was able to stay at home for most of the delay and avoid sitting at the airport.

This experience fit well with the topic of the Bulletin for this week, which is thinking about ways to improve the user experience when it comes to the day to day interactions with the District. As I was waiting through the delay, I was appreciative of the ease at which I could access real time information which aided in my decision about when to finally leave for the airport. The check in experience was just as seamless, as I was able to get my boarding pass with a few clicks of the keyboard. Enhancements like these are all about reducing friction for users in order to make the flow of information and experiences easier.

In the District we have been working on improving the flow of information through our enhanced use of social media, the production of weekly building newsletters, the switch to ‘One Call Now’ as our single platform for building and athletic communications, and increased use of the news features on the District website. For the new year we are excited about additional tools to increase connection that will be introduced over the next several months.

First, new this week is an updated way to access daily announcements from the High School. The staff has created a shared Google slide deck to distribute announcements electronically. The cool feature about this tool is the ability to update it in real time and the ability for any high school staff member to create an announcement (reducing friction). The high school then figured out a way to embed the slide deck on the website, giving everyone access to information on current and upcoming events. See the screenshots below for how to access this new feature (and special thanks to Kevin Scheel and Felicia Grooms for orchestrating this effort).

Next, later this spring we will be launching a new parent portal on the website that will integrate all major information tasks into a single location. Once in place, the parent portal will have a number of features, including:

  • Electronic form submission (no more filling out forms by hand multiple times each year)

  • Automatic contact information updates

  • One click access to ProgressBook

  • Views of schedules, lunch account information, and building/district news

  • Online fee and lunch payment

The development of a parent portal and the move towards electronic submission of information is part of the fulfillment of the goal to make communicating and interacting with the District easier for parents.

Finally, as it has been about three years since the last refresh of the District website, we will be working on an update of the website along with a reorganization of site content over the next several months. There will be a meeting held at 6PM on Wednesday, January 25th at the High School for anyone who is interested in providing feedback on possible redesign options and content reorganization ideas.

I am excited about the ongoing work to create a seamless digital experience that allows users to connect with and share information with as few clicks as possible, and invite your feedback as we continue to roll out these tools over the next several months.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on Saturday, January 28th.

All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - December 17, 2016
Posted 12/17/2016 at 7:43:48 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

Thanks for checking in with the final Bulldog Bulletin for 2016. The close of the current year also marks several transition points across the District.

Currently, the site at 215 Broadway is being prepared for the start of the building removal which is scheduled to begin in the middle of January. In the next few weeks fencing will be going up around the site, which will be the sign the work is about to begin. We have worked with the contractor to ensure that there is a supply of building bricks available for anyone who wishes to have a memento from the school. There will be a pallet outside of the fenced area where bricks will be placed for pickup. The contractor’s only request is that the fenceline be respected in order to maintain safety at the site. Removal should be complete by late winter, with sitework then commencing to return the land to green space for community use.

Also, after the first of the year the Board offices will be located back at the middle school. The last official day for the current space at 2400 Clermont Center will be Thursday, December 22. Setup of the office will occur over the holiday break, and the first official day at Bauer Avenue will be Wednesday, January 4. We are excited to be moving back to a building and having the Board office on a school campus again.

Finally, the close of the calendar year will see the end of the current wireless network at the high school. Planning has been underway for some time on a new, more robust wireless network funded in part through federal e-rate dollars. Our e-rate application was approved earlier this fall, and the project will take place over the holiday break. The wireless equipment currently at the high school will be installed at the middle school in order to improve their network at no additional cost to the District.

Looking ahead to the coming week, school will be in session on Monday (12/19), Tuesday (12/20), and Wednesday (12/21). At the high school, students will be taking first semester exams, with students expected to be in attendance for the entire day, as classes will continue around the exam schedule (more information on the high school exam schedule can be found HERE). The first day of break for students will be Thursday 12/22, and school will resume on Wednesday, January 4.

The Bulldog Bulletin will be settling down for a long winter’s nap, and will be returning on Saturday, January 14.

Wishing you and your family a blessed holiday season and a Happy New Year.


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - Decemeber 3, 2016
Posted 12/2/2016 at 7:43:59 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

For many of us in the Community, the recent wildfires in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have hit especially close to home. This week a District-wide response has sprung up to help those affected by the fires. In less than a day, what began as an effort in one building quickly spread to all three buildings via email, and a coordinated effort in partnership with Matthew 25 Ministries is underway to collect items in this time of need.

The response that I had the opportunity to watch evolve in a twenty four hour period almost felt commonplace, as service to others is part of the fabric of the entire District. Then I ran across the report below which reminded me that dedication to service is not necessarily the norm:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As I spend time in the buildings each day, I continually run across examples of our students and staff engaged in projects and activities designed to give back to the community. It makes me proud as Superintendent to see a culture of service that isn’t tied to a particular holiday or season but one that truly occurs throughout the year. Here are some examples of how are students and staff focus on serving others:

At the elementary school, our students just completed their annual canned food drive, the Girls on the Run group is planning a service project focused on Haiti, a group of 3rd - 5th grade students focuses on building recycling, and almost 30 students recently volunteered as gift selectors for the Shop with a Cop program to help needy families.

At the middle school, the entire 7th grade class just completed a day of service that focused on enhancing the outdoor classroom space and nature trail, student council members are giving back to the school through the State Farm teacher recognition program, all students have the opportunity to participate in the annual holiday toy drive, and Garden Club members serve the school throughout the year with a wide range of beautification projects.

At the high school the Interact Club is active in supporting local Rotary projects throughout the year, National Honor Society members just completed a successful blood drive and engage in untold hours of individual community service, BPA members recently completed a blanket drive for the homeless shelter and continue to be a leader in fundraising for Special Olympics through their participation in the Polar Plunge, and a number of students give back on a daily basis through peer-tutoring and school wide enhancement projects (like the new murals that are being painted throughout the school).

Last, but not least, the District transportation department, in partnership with each school building, is currently in it's 8th year of providing holiday support between Thanksgiving and the New Year to local Batavia families in the form of food, clothing, and presents.

One of the strong stories that Batavia has to tell is the commitment of the entire District to service and teaching our students the importance of giving as a way to engage in the strengthening of our community. Continuous opportunities for students to participate in volunteerism is part of what makes for a well rounded education that equips Batavia graduates to be successful wherever their paths may lead.

Finally, I want to recognize all of the community members, parents, and staff members who facilitate the many service opportunities in which our students participate. Your selflessness makes many of these activities possible and greatly contributes to the education of our young people.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on December 17th.

All the best,

Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - November 19, 2016
Posted 11/19/2016 at 8:11:56 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

A major educational issue that has been in the news lately is the debate over the new graduation requirements that take effect for our current juniors and all classes after (graduation years 2018 and beyond). Currently, in order to earn a diploma in this new system, a student has to earn the 22 credits that are required by Batavia, plus achieve one of the three options below:

  1. Earn at least 18 points across seven end of course exams students take in their 9th, 10th, and 11th grade years.

  2. Score ‘remedial free’ on the ACT or SAT

  3. Earn an industry credential and obtain a qualifying score on the WorkKeys test

At the high school, work has been ongoing to prepare students in the classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020 to meet one of these three options. As you can tell, it is much more complex than the old system our seniors are under, which simply required passing all five parts of the Ohio Graduation Test.

For about a year now there has been work underway across the State of Ohio to make changes to the new requirements. The goal is ensure that students in the first classes affected by these change are not unfairly penalized by issues that still have to be worked out with the new system. I, along with our Board of Education, have been actively involved in the work of making change to ensure we have a fair system in place that accurately assesses our students’ preparedness to earn a high school diploma.

This past week I had the opportunity to testify in front of the State Board of Education on the issue of graduation requirements, and I have been working with Superintendents from around the State on common sense changes that will allow for an extended phase in period for the new requirements over the next five years.

I am hopeful that there will be changes to the new graduation requirements, and that we will know what these changes are in the next few months. Once this information is released a meeting will be held to share about the changes and the work that is being done to ensure our high school students are on track to meet the requirements.

For more information on this topic, click HERE.

Upcoming Holiday Concerts: Last week as part of our Veteran’s Day activities I had the chance to hear the high school band put on a special show of patriotic songs for our Kindergarten students. The first thing that struck me (besides how cute our kiddos were waving the American Flags they made in class to every song) was how amazing the sound is on our new stage at the elementary school. As we prepare for the upcoming holiday performances by our students, I am excited that they will have the chance to use this great new space to show off their talents.

In addition, thanks to the work of Dave and Emily Smith, student fundraisers, the generosity of individual donors, and support by the Band Boosters and the District, we are happy to welcome the newest member to our Bulldog Family:

This gently used grand piano sounds amazing and will benefit all students during their performances for many years to come.

Upcoming Performance Dates:

Monday, December 5th - Middle School Choir

Thursday, December 8th - Middle School Band

Monday, December 12th - High School Choir

Tuesday, December 13th - High School Band

Monday, December 19th - Elementary Choir

All performances will be at the Elementary School beginning at 7PM

Finally, as we are approaching the holiday season, what can be a joyous time for many can also be a challenging time for others. This week State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria shared about a new statewide crisis line available to all Ohio residents:

We especially want to draw your attention to a newly launched, statewide Crisis Text Line that provides Ohioans with a free, confidential service available 24/7 on all mobile devices. Simply text the keyword “4hope” to 741741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor.

While this is a resource I hope no one in our community has to utilize due to life’s circumstances, I wanted to take the opportunity to make it available as a tool for those who may find themselves in need of support in the upcoming weeks.

As we prepare to enter this time of Thanksgiving, know that I am thankful for our entire community, our students, and our dedicated staff that serve the children of Batavia each and every day.

Wishing you happiness with friends and family in the upcoming week.

Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - November 5, 2016
Posted 11/4/2016 at 7:18:51 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

I hope everyone is enjoying our extended mild weather as we enter this first part of November. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour on Saturday night and also remember that this is the time of year to check your smoke detectors and to replace any batteries that power them. Below are several items of interest from across the District:

Athletic Facilities Survey: As we settle into our new space at the elementary school, we are already starting to think about the next phases of the master facilities plan for the District. Part of this process includes thinking about our existing athletic facilities at 1 Bulldog Place, which will be turning 20 years old next spring. As part of the work of the athletic facilities sub committee, a short survey has been put together to gather community input on the prioritization of athletic facilities projects. Please click HERE to provide your input.

Progressbook Survey Results: In the September 24th Bulletin there was a short 2 question survey on Progressbook. There were 175 responses with 57 comments provided (There is an image of what the responses look like below). We appreciate everyone who participated and all of the thoughtful feedback that was given to the open response question. We are working through the feedback in order to make Progressbook a more effective tool for communication between home and school.

Bulldog Social: We are just over a week away from the 3rd annual Bulldog Social, and it is close to selling out with less than 15 tickets remaining (at the time of this writing). To reserve your ticket, contact Ben Stewart at 732-2341 or via email at stewart_b@bataviaschools.org.

Board Office Relocation: With the move into the new elementary school completed, our attention has turned to the next phase of our facilities plan, which is the move of the Board offices back to the middle school on Bauer Avenue. This move was made possible by the space that was freed up when the 5th grade was re-located to the elementary school. We are excited to be moving back to the building and are happy that we can once again use existing space for the Board office instead of paying rent to an outside agency. Work is currently underway on restoring walls that were taken down when the offices were converted to classrooms and freshening up the space. We will be moving non essential items over the next several weeks, with the final day at our current Clermont Center office space planned for December 22nd. Below are a few pictures of the Board office restoration:

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School Safety Plans: In 2015 the State of Ohio revamped their expectations for school safety plans across the State. That fall, we set off on task to completely re-write our plans for each building using the new State protocols. Over the past year and half we have continued to work with the State on revisions to our plans to ensure we are 100% compliant with their expectations. I am happy to report that I received notice from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week that all of our plans have been officially approved for the next three years. This has been a very rigorous process that has served to enhance our preparedness and overall level of security in the District. While we know it is impossible to plan for every contingency, the procedures we have in place in the event of an emergency will allow for well coordinated responses.

We also know that school is a safer place when everyone is a partner in ensuring that information regarding potential safety issues is shared. Our Safe Schools Tip Line is one tool we have for sharing information that could be a concern. There is a link on the main website homepage (see image below) as well as a link on each building page where you can electronically submit a concern. In addition, safety concerns can always be reported by phone at 1-866-547-8362.

Finally, ensuring that there is clear, clean, and consistent communication whenever there is a disruption to normal school operations is very important. Below are the times when you can expect to receive notification during the school day, as well as times when communications will not be sent (originally published in the 10/8 Bulletin)

In the event that there is a building or campus lockdown, building evacuation due to fire or a credible threat, campus evacuation to an alternative site due to safety reasons, or the cancellation of school due to weather, we
WILL use the voice calling feature and the email notification system from One Call Now, the official District and building Twitter accounts, and the District Facebook page.

There will be times however where we
WILL NOT use our communication systems to send instant notifications. These include times when students make non-credible or non-actionable threats, instances where investigations occur that do not lead to a lockdown situation, regularly scheduled safety drills, or scenarios where there may be issues near our schools that do not impact building operations or the safety of our students.

The general rule of thumb should be that in the absence of a communication from the District, students are safe, the campuses are secure, and learning is occurring as normal.

Finally, just a reminder that there will be no school on election day for our annual fall teacher in-service day.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on 11/19.

All the best,
Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - October 22, 2016
Posted 10/22/2016 at 11:10:35 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

October is another one of the months in the school calendar where you look up, the leaves have already turned colors, and you wonder where the time went. This past week marked the end of the first quarter, with fall break occurring on Monday the 17th. It was also Homecoming week for District, which featured well attended and successful events including the parade, bonfire, football game, and homecoming dance. I hope this first portion of the school year has gone well for you and your family. Below are a number of items that have either occurred in the past few weeks or will be upcoming that are items of interest.

Clermont Science Challenge: This past Tuesday thirty students from Batavia High School attended this annual event, with our 10th grade team finishing first overall and the 12th grade team finishing in 2nd place! This is great news for the District and re-affirms the great work and quality instruction that is occurring in our Science Department at BHS. Click HERE to read the news article that is posted on the high school website.

Elementary Fine Arts: This past Thursday our brand new stage hosted its inaugural performances as our fifth graders put on their fall musical show. The sound, lights, and seating all lived up to everything we hoped for as we anticipated this moment throughout the construction process. The elementary stage will be home to all of our upcoming fine arts performances as we approach the holiday season, and I hope you have the opportunity to come and enjoy this space and the work of our talented students in the coming months.

Elementary Fountain: In the last Bulldog Bulletin I shared pictures of the fountain removal project at the old building (Click HERE to access these images). I’m happy to report that the fountain was successfully moved and installation has been completed in the new building next to the music room. We will be recognizing Tony Kalti, the Rookwood preservationist who performed this amazing work, at the November Board of Education meeting.

Rotary Spaghetti Dinner: This annual event will be held on November 5th at Batavia High School from 4 - 7PM. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this event are used to fund the Rotary high school senior scholarship program, which many of our Batavia seniors have benefited from over the years. For those who have other events on this evening, carry out is also available. Tickets are $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for children, and can be purchased at the door on the day of the dinner. Click HERE to view the flyer with additional information.

Bulldog Social: The third annual Bulldog Social to benefit the Batavia Athletic Facilities Fund will be held on Saturday, November 12th at Norlyn Manor. Click HERE for more information on this event.

Batavia Alumni Association: One of the strengths of the District is the strong foundation of alumni who continue to be engaged supporters of the District. The Alumni website was recently updated, and includes a new method for electronic giving. Click HERE to access the site and learn more about the ways in which the Alumni Association makes a difference for the District.

Finally, as a reminder, there will be no school on Election Day, November 8th for a staff in-service day.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on Saturday, November 5th.

All the best,


Keith
Bulldog Bulletin - October 8, 2016
Posted 10/8/2016 at 7:24:08 AM by Keith Millard [staff member]

As some of you know, one of my hobbies is running, which gives me lots of time to think about things (headphones are out...too many concerts years ago). These past few weeks I’ve been thinking about how connected we are as a society, and how this can be both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, it’s never been easier to get information, tasks that used to require a great deal of our time are now handled at the click of a button, and maintaining relationships across large geographic divides is as simple as a text, post, or video chat. On the downside, our instant access to knowledge can sometimes feed on our fears and amplify things that never were issues prior the advent of our ‘always on’ society.

Our connectedness has also certainly changed how we relate to information, and expectations we have about the speed in which information is shared. While we have had mobile devices for 20 years that were capable of transmitting information wirelessly, it really has only been since 2010 and the rollout of 4G technology that it has been possible to enjoy the types of access to information that we now take for granted.

One of the challenges that faces all school districts is how to handle the sharing of information when issues arise regarding school safety matters. On the one hand, there is a desire to be transparent in communications and push out information to parents and the community whenever something occurs, no matter how small. On the other hand, there is a real concern that sending notifications for every little thing has the potential to create message fatigue on the part of recipients and a false sense that the school is not a safe environment.

This topic is one that has been discussed at length by our school safety teams and the Board of Education. While it is impossible to expect that consensus can be reached on a single approach, a reasonable goal is to have a set of communication parameters that can be lived with by most people for issues relating to school safety. With these points in mind, I want to share with you the framework we use when determining if a message should be sent regarding matters of school safety.

In the event that there is a building or campus lockdown, building evacuation due to fire or a credible threat, campus evacuation to an alternative site due to safety reasons, or the cancellation of school due to weather, we WILL use the voice calling feature and the email notification system from One Call Now, the official District and building Twitter accounts, and the District Facebook page.

There will be times however where we WILL NOT use our communication systems to send instant notifications. These include times when students make non-credible or non-actionable threats, instances where investigations occur that do not lead to a lockdown situation, regularly scheduled safety drills, or scenarios where there may be issues near our schools that do not impact building operations or the safety of our students.

The general rule of thumb should be that in the absence of a communication from the District, students are safe, the campuses are secure, and learning is occurring as normal.

School safety issues are something that I take very personally, and District preparedness planning occurs on a weekly basis. Whether it involves a safety scenario discussion at the weekly administrative team meeting, a practice drill with students, or collaboration with local law enforcement, the District is committed to maintaining the safest learning environment possible (all the while understanding that it is impossible to plan for or prevent every possible scenario).

In spite of all the headlines that can be a cause for concern in the age we live in, the reality is that school is still one of the safest places to be, and we will continue to work on an ongoing basis to ensure we remain vigilant in our safety preparedness.

Finally, as a reminder, the first quarter of the school year is coming to a close on Friday, October 14, and there will not be school on Monday, October 17 for fall break.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on Saturday, October 22.

All the best,


Keith


P.S. After over ten months of behind the scenes planning, the Rookwood water fountain from the old elementary school has finally been removed and is in the process of being installed in the new building in the alcove next to the music room. Click HERE for a complete photo gallery of the project as it has progressed day by day. It was amazing (and a bit nerve wracking) to watch the removal process unfold and we are so glad we were able to save such an important part of Batavia’s history and preserve it for generations to come in the new building.
Bulldog Bulletin - September 24, 2016
Posted 9/22/2016 at 4:49:13 PM by Keith Millard [staff member]

Recently I was spending time working on updates to our District policies and guidelines when I came across this paragraph from Guideline 2431A:

(The) purpose for students participating in athletics is to stress the importance of physical fitness throughout life, to help students develop the attitudes and value (of) doing one's best, strong team work, fair play, and good sportsmanship, and to practice a mind-set and behaviors related to respect for opponents, coaches, officials, teammates, and spectators. Although winning is a desirable goal and something to strive for, it should not overshadow the educational purposes of athletics and the positive impact athletic activity can have on developing ethical, productive, and well-rounded citizens.

In a national culture that can be obsessive about winning and losing, I took a few minutes to reflect on the importance of such a paragraph being in the documents that guide the practices of the District, and believe it absolutely reflects the messages we send to our students each day.

While winning on the field of play is certainly fun, exciting, and more satisfying than losing, it does not define who we are as individuals and is certainly not the only measure by which we can judge the success of programs.

As I think back on my time playing sports in high school, I have a hard time remembering the specifics of any win or loss. What I do remember are the friendships, the bond I formed with my school through participation in extracurriculars, and the lessons I learned about teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ideals greater than myself.

One of the things that make me the most proud as Superintendent is when I see large numbers of our students participating in activities outside of the school day and conducting themselves according to the values highlighted above. Whether it involves athletics, fine arts, clubs, or simply being a spectator and supporter at events, being involved matters, and it is part of what enriches the educational experience and creates ties that bind individuals to their school.

I am also proud of how we as a Bulldog community support our students win or lose, and the way we do it with dignity, grace, and class. Every time I have the opportunity to speak with students, one of my regular messages is to remember that we are judged by our actions, and we all have a responsibility to be great ambassadors for our school, District, and community.

As we have just turned the calendar officially from summer to fall, I am once again reminded of how fast time moves on, and that the memories of days gone by are always richer when every present moment is lived in a manner that keeps high ideals in mind.

The next Bulldog Bulletin will be published on October 8, 2016.

All the best,


Keith

P.S.  We are experimenting with new ways to get feedback on tools the District uses on a regular basis.  Below is a two question survey I'd love for you to participate in.  Thanks in advance!


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