Students helped Toledo Public Schools Superintendent John Foley share his story during yesterday's second annual state of the district address.
Cherokee Tabb, a Rogers High School senior, talked about the student organizations he's been part of that helped him learn leadership and responsibility.
Reynolds Elementary fifth grader Christian Hollowell told how "amazing" his new school building is.
Lauren Merrell, valedictorian of the first graduating class at Toledo Early College High School, explained how she earned 63 college credits from the University of Toledo through the magnet high school that have helped her on a path to become a pharmacist.
Jermey Hampton, a Libbey High graduate, talked about the district partner Boys and Girls Clubs of America that helped him succeed through a difficult childhood.
And Paris Johnson, a junior at Woodward High, shared her success through music as she played the violin to open the evening.
"These students are just a snapshot of the students in every school in the district we have that are successful," Mr. Foley said. "Our students are intelligent, articulate, successful young people."
He took the opportunity behind the podium at Rogers High School to describe the district's successes, some of which he said go untold.
He highlighted improvements in the Ohio Department of Education report cards, drops in suspensions and expulsions, and the district's 31 new buildings now open through the state-supported $640 million Building for Success.
Mr. Foley thanked UT and Owens Community College for starting scholarship programs that help TPS graduates attend college free. "We were given the gift of a lifetime for our students," he said.
And yesterday Kevin Kucera, associate vice president for enrollment services, let the audience know that 130 TPS graduates are at UT through that scholarship program and announced a new initiative for TPS graduates now in the planning stages.
The Scholarly Savings Account would allow students starting in 8th grade to earn $2,000 a year toward a UT education by being successful in high school, earning a maximum of $10,000 toward a UT education.
The details, such as the definition of success, are still being worked out, but it was good news for TPS parent Bonnie Herrmann, who was one of more than 150 people in the audience.
"It's very exciting to hear about that new program with UT. The district has good relationships like that," said Ms. Herrmann, who has twin kindergarten students at Crossgates Elementary School and a freshman student at Toledo Early College High School.
"This kind of good news doesn't get out there nearly enough, so it was nice to listen to some of it tonight."
But it wasn't all good.
Mr. Foley shared that because of declines in federal, state, and local support, the district is looking at a $30 million deficit in fiscal year 2011 that will grow to $71 million the year after that.
The district has cut $10 million from its current budget, which included closing Fulton and Nathan Hale elementary schools.
He asked that parents and community partners help them through this time.
Other students helped share TPS' story with booths lining the halls of Rogers to highlight more than a dozen tech prep programs, such as the graphic design program at Woodward High School and broadcast communications at Scott High School.
Contact Meghan Gilbert-Cunningham