Milton-Union school district health is strong


WEST MILTON — “Across our organization, students’ programmatic experience and performance outcomes indicate district health is better than ever,” said Brad Ritchey, Ph.D., Milton-Union Exempted Village Schools superintendent. “Instruction, facilities, athletics, and activities work together creating an educational environment and experience members of the school community, district partners, and alumni can be proud.

His report continues:

On the most recent Ohio Local School Report Card, the district received an overall rating of four stars, an improvement of one star over last year. The overall district score is currently a combination of five components – achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation rate, and early literacy.

Achievement and progress, or student growth, are two components that best describe academic health. The district improved by one star in achievement and TWO STARS in progress, or student growth. Milton-Union students are exceeding state expectations in terms of achievement level and growth relative to past performance and compared with other students across the state.

Also, U.S. News & World Report recognized Milton-Union High School as one of the Top 100 high schools in Ohio. Based on college readiness, advanced course offerings, state assessment results, and graduation rate, 17,680 schools were ranked nationally and 741 in Ohio. Milton-Union is among the top ten percent of high schools in the state, fourth in the greater Dayton area, and the only Miami County school recognized. Recognitions like this celebrate years of effort, and as a small, rural school district, we have been proud to provide access to and a variety of challenging coursework – Advanced Placement, College Credit Plus, and career-technical programming.

As a founding member of the Three Rivers Conference, Milton-Union student athletes, parents, and fans have enjoyed the high energy and rich competition of local rivalries. Milton-Union coaching staff members and students organize and compete within 17 athletic programs and have enjoyed their share of conference, district, regional, and state team and individual awards and championships. Performing arts and activities offer yet another avenue of student participation. Award-winning and highly esteemed leadership, musicianship, and tradition have become hallmarks of the instrumental and vocal music programs, and our parents, families, and community members recognize students’ involvement in a wide variety of artistic pursuits.

In terms of facilities and finances, the district continues to investigate alternative funding sources to reduce the taxpayer burden. For example, the district recently received Ohio Stronger Connections and K-12 Safety and Security grant dollars. The district can provide students access to career counseling and planning and made several adjustments to strengthen facility safety including, but not limited to, visitor management, building access, and surveillance.

However, grant funding is not typically enough to maintain the level of programming our students and families have come to expect. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the district has frugally used federal dollars to continue and even increase interventions intended to close instructional gaps and promote student growth. The district is at the end of that revenue stream and will have a school funding issue on the March 19th ballot. Successful passage of the levy will have the net effect of increasing the earned income tax on residents by 0.5% and allow the district to flexibly allocate funds for operations and permanent improvements. The district has not passed a new money operating levy since 2003.

Although we can still improve, a rising tide raises all ships. Our students, staff members, and families deserve a collective pat on the back for their magnificent work over the past year, and we appreciate the investment of parents and families in the academic lives of children. These successes remind us of the importance of people and having an opportunity to collaborate with supportive parents, families, and community members.

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