Preschool Program, Communication Among Community Questions

As members of the community shared their questions with Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr., he responded as best he could


Emet Celeste-Cohen

Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. listens to questions and complaints of community members at a Q&A session Nov. 30.

About 40 community members convened in the high school’s small auditorium Nov. 30 for a Q&A session with Shaker’s administrative staff coordinated by the Parent Teacher Organization. Residents were invited to submit questions in advance at Those chosen for use in the forum were read by the residents who submitted them. The community chat was recorded, and the video will be posted on the district website.

Will there be scholarships for the Early Childhood Learning program that costs $7000?

The Early Childhood Learning program — or “Shaker’s First Class” — is a “two-year preschool program that will be housed at Mercer and Onaway elementary schools. According to the district website, “the program will follow the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) as well as Ohio Early Learning Standards.” The website also guaranteed that the program will “achieve a state Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) 5-star rating.”

To be elegible, children must be 3 years old by Sept. 30, 2016 and families must commit for the two-year duration. The tuition is $7000 per year.

“Need-based scholarships will be available through private donors and foundations,” Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings said. He confirmed that 10 of the program’s 32 students would  receive scholarships in order to “have a diverse student structure.”

Why are the enrichment programs changing so much?

There are no concrete plans to improve the cohesiveness of elementary school enrichment programs. At some places, “gifted” students are taken out of class to learn English or Math. At other places, the teachers will come to them. Even without a plan, the district is encouraging a form of enriched education in which students don’t have to leave their classrooms.

Several parents asked, “If we don’t have a plan, why are things being changed?” Hutchings explained that most of the changes aren’t district-wide — they are school by school —  and most are occurring in Woodbury and middle school.

The middle school and Woodbury introduced a new course level this year: accelerated. Previously, those students who skipped a grade in a subject — in math or Spanish, for example — would attend classes in those subjects at a school beyond their grade level. Eighth graders came to the high school and sixth graders to the middle school. With this change, “accelerated” math courses at the seventh and ninth grade levels are now available in Woodbury and the middle school, respectively.

Community members complained that Shaker has undergone too much change. “Every year we come back and it’s like, ‘What did they do this time?’” one parent said.

Where are individual students’ PARCC scores? 

Hutchings affirmed that the PARCC scores were released Oct. 14.  However, students won’t receive their individual results until January at the earliest.

Who will be the next high school principal? 

The district won’t review applications until January. Hutchings said that if Interim Principal James Reed III “puts his name in the hat” he would “have an upper hand.”

Have you done anything to improve communications? 

Director of Communications Scott Stephens divulged district plans to communicate with parents via text message and will begin testing the system next week. The district hopes to have it “up and running by winter break,” he said.

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