FORT WAYNE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS GUEST COLUMN

The Fort Wayne Community Schools takes pride in providing a quality education despite the financial challenges of the past three years. In the year ahead, the superintendent and the school board will work together in a number of areas to make improvements with fewer resources, for nearly 32,000 students in 53 schools.

The landscape of education is changing, along with that of our community. The economy continues to place more families into poverty as companies leave, close, or downsize workforces. For FWCS that means we are serving more children of poverty—today at an all time high of over 53%. At the same time, Fort Wayne continues to grow as immigrants from other lands make this their home. Our schools have over 70 different languages and dialects represented by students from all over the world.

There are many demands on public education today. At FWCS, we are fortunate to have the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson, to ensure that we stay focused on student achievement. In my three years as a member of the board of trustees, we have witnessed progress in many areas despite $11 million in budget cuts since 2003, when 90 teachers were lost.

In the past year over 1,800 dedicated teachers spent hours of their own time improving their skills and mentoring children. Thousands of those children were recognized for excellence in academic bowls, band, speech, and athletics. Additional instruction has been given to some 600 gifted and talented students, and advanced placement classes grew by nearly 650. The school curriculum has added more emphasis to science, literacy, language arts, and math. Scholastic Aptitude Test preparation class enrollment is up, as are the district’s SAT scores.

This school system faces a number of challenges in 2006, but the superintendent and school board are committed to working together to make strides in the following areas.

The conversion of Geyer Middle School into the Towles Intermediate School, will focus more attention on a school with special needs and keep a strong commitment to a growing neighborhood on the south side of Fort Wayne.

We will work towards the implementation of the No Child Left Behind law that ensures every student achieves the academic proficiency standards established by the states.

In August, the new food service center will open and will serve meals to nearly 25,000 students.

FWCS will make progress in lowering class size and the achievement gap, increasing graduation rates, and promoting early reading programs.

We will impress upon state legislators and Governor Mitch Daniels that public education needs additional new funding during the next budget cycle in 2007, so we can meet the growing state and federal mandates and give a quality education to each child. Implementing the P-16 high school curriculum changes and funding full day kindergarten are important long-term goals that will also require more classroom space.

As board president, I am pleased to work with a dedicated group of trustees and a superintendent and staff that are united in channeling our resources to improve public education in a safe environment. We pledge to work together to do what is best for all children, and we are dedicated to make this one of the best school districts in the nation.

The Waynedale News Staff
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Geoff Paddock, President, Board of Trustees, FWCS

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