Westlake superintendent, treasurer discuss school proposal

Westlake City Schools Superintendent Scott Goggin greets a student at the community open house on Aug. 8. Photo by Denny Wendell

Westlake City Schools held an open house at the high school on Aug. 8 to introduce the new superintendent, Scott Goggin, and treasurer, Todd Hopkins.

Goggin, who previously worked in the Midview school district and lived in Avon, said he and his family are becoming familiar with their new city and exploring all of its benefits. “We moved right next to Crocker Park, so we’ve been able to enjoy that this summer. When our son and daughter have friends over it gives them some sense of independence, they can walk and see a movie or get a haircut. We absolutely love it. We are now embedded in the community. The people have been so welcoming and so friendly to me and my family, it’s been overwhelming.” he said.

Stepping into the superintendent’s role, Goggin will be addressing the bond issue and levy placed on this November’s ballot by the school board. When asked if he’s heard any concerns about the proposal to replace the district’s four elementary schools with one new school, he stated, “Even prior to my arrival, the board did multiple surveys of the community to get their input. The biggest message of concern that we get is people wanting to maintain the sense of community, and in combining those schools to do it in a way where we don’t sacrifice a sense of community and belonging. So, that is something we are going to be very purposeful with. You’ll still have the same number [of students] inside your class. Going to that campus style, where they’re bought together, you’ll also be able to meet everybody earlier instead of in later grades.”

In the months leading up to the November ballot, Goggin emphasized that the voters will be reminded that the bond issue and permanent improvement levy will not increase the residents’ taxes. He felt that events like the open house are a good opportunity “to informally talk to people. People have been very comfortable in sharing their opinions ... and that’s a good thing, that it’s been an open dialogue. And whether someone is happy or had constructive criticism, they’re willing to share it, and that will help us. Whether it’s a program or a building or anything we’re doing, if we can have that open dialogue, it’s immensely helpful.”

Treasurer Todd Hopkins, having come from a school system that has consolidated schools, offered his perspective on combining schools. “In the district that I came from, Brooklyn City Schools, ultimately we replaced two elementary schools and a middle school and combined everything by building an addition onto the high school. We had 1,500 students on the same campus, from pre-K through 12th grade. And it’s all really worked by having different wings. Even if you look at how the high school here has developed, you have your academic wing, you have your athletic wing, and you have your performing arts wing. You can do a similar type of fashion in your elementary school, plus you can share some of your infrastructure. By building it in discreet sections you still have that feeling of a small school environment, but you’re connected. You’re still able to have that neighborhood feeling, but you’re able to have the economies of scale by being under one roof. It all depends on how you design and carry it out. I think it has great potential.”

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Volume 8, Issue 16, Posted 9:44 AM, 08.16.2016