Looking backward with gratitude: ZCS utilized every single penny of the 2012 operating referendum to sustain the academic program while keeping class sizes as low as possible during continued growth and declining state funding. This was done by applying the entire referendum to fund teacher and counselor positions as promised. Still, our high school students had to do without the amazing Project Lead the Way pre-engineering/problem solving curriculum that has become a staple in better funded Indiana schools, and our students also did without trained wellness/fitness teachers at the elementary level. An amazing posse of talented Zionsville folks contributed time, talent, and other resources to workarounds that could not be the real, full-time offerings, but these generous Z-people were committed and contributed much. We thank the likes of Laurie Wanser, Dr. David Dimmit, Body Outfitters, and many, many more.
Board planning and CFO leadership helped us lower our school tax rate by nearly 25% in 2015 due to smart debt management, and we utilized old bond proceeds to gain some needed classroom and event spaces at the high school without tax increase. Leading a statewide lobbying effort, we helped generate legislator understanding about the broken school funding formula. (Your calls, emails, and letters were instrumental in this first of several similar efforts in legislative budget years ahead. Thank you.)
Looking forward with excited resolve: The entire 2015 operating referendum will also be spent entirely on teacher and counselor services in our still-growing school community. Project Lead the Way will be recommended for the high school and for some expansion at the middle school level. In the spring I will recommend that we restore a wellness/fitness curricular component to each elementary program. This is exciting, and we know it is only possible because of support from the majority of local voters who expect great schools and stewardship of resources.
A fresh update on our demographic study is due in early 2016 as well. This will help with a new five-year plan that for the first time in a decade does not focus solely on whether or not we will have to reduce programs and services because of staff cuts. Stability is a watchword for us now—in class sizes and in programs that we have saved through every round of austerity our lack of state funding has ordained.
I am excited for our ZCS kids, and I share the resolve of colleagues and servant leader Board of Trustees members to ensure stewardship of taxpayers’ resources. Excited resolve. Looking back with gratitude and looking forward with a very happy determined focus on behalf of these fine community schools.
Scott Robison, Superintendent
Zionsville Community Schools