Student buy-in a key element in Dayton Independent Schools improvement

03/22/2017 09:34 PM

DAYTON – Six years ago, the Dayton Independent School district was failing after previous superintendent Gary Rye was sentenced to two years in federal prison for embezzling nearly $200,000 from the school district he led for more than a decade which prompted an audit of school system finances by former auditor Adam Edelen.

To make matters worse, the district was ranked 171 of the 174 school districts in the state and morale was at an all time low for students and faculty.

But, in the six years since the districts nightmare, things are starting to look up for the small northern Kentucky river town district of nearly 1,000 students, 85 percent of which receive free and reduced lunch.

Jay Brewer was hired as the new superintendent of the struggling Dayton Independent School District and knew what he needed to do first when he arrived in an effort to turn things around.

“I did a a lot of listening and taking measure of what’s going on and quickly determined that even though the head might have been rotten, the body was strong, and that goes back the wonderful people that were here,” Brewer said. “You know, that made things a lot easier to say, wow, there are supports here, there are people that have been here fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years doing wonderful work. They just need some passion, some energy and some support, some passion behind them, and then got out of their way and let them do their thing.”

In the six years during Brewer’s tenure, Dayton has moved up 101 spots in the KDE school district report card rankings from 171 to 70 in the state which puts the district in the distinguished category.

The high school and middle school are also in the distinguished category in the school report card rankings.

Rick Wolf, director of teaching and learning in the district, believes that one of the biggest elements that has led to improved scores is getting the students to believe in the importance of academics.

Other programs that the school district has instituted include a book of the week program. The program gives all 3 and 4-year-old pre-schoolers a free book which they can keep in the hopes that it will propel those students to read when they finish kindergarten; in turn the school hopes the program will lead to better scores and outcomes.

At the high school level, students struggling in core classes have an opportunity to improve by taking part in special Friday classes in an effort to get extra work in and improve their grades.

Administrators say that there’s still much work to do in getting students college and or career ready, but the hope is that the new programs implemented will propel the district to continue their climb in the state rankings, and increase the number of students who will be ready for postsecondary academic success.

Improvements have also been made with the physical plant including remodeling at Lincoln Elementary School and improvements to the schools baseball and softball fields.

Currently, the high school in undergoing exterior renovation.


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