BY DR. TODD CRAMER
Superintendent | Maumee City Schools
June 18, 2021
Ending A School Year That Rivals A Rollercoaster Ride
For all of you who have ridden the Cedar Point Corkscrew – or any mega rollercoaster for that matter – that rollercoaster experience pretty much summarizes the 2020-21 school year.
We started off looking up at the challenge ahead and found the strength to get on board, even though we were not quite sure what to expect. We started the climb up the big hill feeling like we had all the momentum we needed. Then came the freefall – the month of December 2020 in the case of this global pandemic – and we were turned upside down, spun around and ordered to stop in-person classes and return to remote learning for several weeks. However, we stayed on the tracks – students, staff and parents alike all working together – returned to the classroom five days a week, and here we are, successfully at the finish line. I could not be prouder of everyone and their work to get us successfully to today.
Thank You, Community Members
On behalf of our Maumee City Schools Board of Education, led by president Stephanie Piechowiak and including vice president Janet Wolff and members Diane Balcerzak, Jennifer Campos and Mike Wiley, I want to say thank you to the entire Maumee community. Your support of our students – in all grades and at all times – never ceases to impress.
On Saturday, May 29, we celebrated the 187 members of the Maumee High School Class of 2021 as they walked across the stage at the Huntington Center. Each graduate was able to invite family and friends to the ceremony and all the pomp and circumstance was livestreamed for others not in attendance. We welcome each of these new grads into the family of Panther Alumni, which includes 17,473 members. Each new grad has endless potential to make a difference in our world.
Thank You, Maumee Students
To every Maumee student, from our preschoolers to our high school seniors, we witnessed your perseverance, dedication to your education and your support of your friends and your school as you followed the ever-changing health and safety rules. For all of these reasons, we were able to safely be open for classes, five days each week for in-person instruction and also offer an online option for those who preferred to learn away from our campus this year. Thank you! I know we are all looking forward to the 2021-22 school year getting back to normal.
Thank You, Maumee Parents
We understand it has not been an easy year for our parents and we appreciate everyone’s willingness to trust our decisions and your patience as we navigated our way through the pandemic. Your support allowed us to stay committed to our core values and walk the fine line between keeping our students and staff safe while providing the best education possible. Words cannot express our gratitude for all grace and understanding you have extended to our schools and for all you have done throughout this pandemic that resulted in a successful end to the 2020-21 school year.
Thank You, Maumee Staff
I cannot say enough about how proud I am of Maumee’s teachers and support staff members. The job they did from March of 2020 until today was nothing short of amazing. There is no group of educators I would have rather taken this rollercoaster ride alongside. They were champions of our students, providing the best possible education, in the safest environment, throughout the ups and downs of the pandemic.
Looking Forward To 2021-22
We are excited to have more than 300 students participating in summer camp with us this summer. Following these camps, we will put this year behind us and look forward to the future, when we will be welcoming all of our students back into our classrooms this August. We will also be welcoming our largest group of new staff to the district since 2015. There are many reasons to be optimistic and we look forward to capitalizing on the opportunity to serve the community and educate our students next year!
December 31, 2020
Wrapping Up The Calendar Year 2020 By Thanking The Maumee Community
As we wrap up calendar year 2020 and begin the new year, I want to express my thanks and gratitude to the entire Maumee community for your support and understanding of the school district as we navigate our way through this global pandemic.
As educators, we never took a class or attended a seminar about how to educate students during a pandemic when remote learning would be the mandate. We have learned and adapted in real time and believe that we made the best decisions for the right reasons.
I also want to express my gratitude and compliment every member of the Maumee City Schools staff for their hard work and dedication to doing everything possible to have our students learning in person this school year. From our custodial staff, constantly cleaning high-touch surfaces, to our secretaries handling isolation and quarantine calls, to our transportation staff for doing everything possible to look out for students, to our teachers, administrators and the many community members who work for us as substitute employees to help ensure continuity of education when regular staff members cannot be at work: THANK YOU TO ALL!
We appreciate the patience and understanding of our parents and community members as we transitioned into and out of remote learning. While I know there have been a few wrinkles here and there, our plans were always made with the best of intentions. As you can imagine, decisions like these weigh heavily on me. I knew there would be fans and critics regardless of what I decided, and as always, I remain committed to ensuring that we listen, research, process and make the best decisions possible and then take the feedback that accompanies this process for reflection.
While I have been the “face and voice of our COVID-19 decisions,” the Maumee City Schools Board of Education members have been working side by side with our district leadership team since last spring to monitor data, seek input from local and state health and education experts, and have remained extremely supportive to recommendations for how to best educate students – in all grades and with all types of learning needs – and at the same time keep us all safe and healthy.
Serving as school board members during a global pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges, and I want to let the community know that your five board of education members have worked tirelessly for Maumee students and staff, always focused on making decisions to ensure our health, safety, continuity of educational offerings and fiscal responsibility.
During January 2021, Maumee City Schools will join more than 700 school districts across Ohio to celebrate School Board Recognition Month to honor and thank our school board members. In Maumee, board of education members are Stephanie Piechowiak, president; Janet Wolff, vice president; and Diane Balcerzak, Jennifer Campos and Mike Wiley, who are the elected individuals who serve as the link between the community and the classroom.
Please join me in telling these five community members, “We appreciate that you care so deeply about the children of our community and the staff at Maumee City Schools.”
Thank you again to the Maumee community for your continued support and understanding. I hope 2021 is a year filled with hope and optimism!
September 3, 2020
Maumee City School District Prepares For New Year With Optimism And Gratitude
These are just three of the emotions that all of us in the Maumee City Schools are feeling today as we move closer and closer to being able to have our students back in our classrooms with us every day. Given we are in the grip of a global pandemic, we continue to focus on a future full of meaningful educational experiences for our students.
We Are Optimistic
Each day, we closely track COVID-19 data for Lucas County and specifically the zip codes of 43537 and 43614 – where our students reside. We continue to be very optimistic that a return to in-person classes five days each week is going to be possible by October 1. I want to assure the community that we are ready to bring our students into our schools with very stringent protocols and best practices for health and safety in place.
Beginning this week, our full faculty and staff are back at work in our buildings for the 2020-21 school year. We are starting the year with extensive professional development and training that ranges from coronavirus health and safety to remote and blended learning strategies and PBIS as well as Restorative Practices, just to name a few. This school year, the entire district staff will be taking a deep dive into issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, which continues to be a cornerstone of our multi-year strategic plan.
We have been working on a very detailed Reset and Restart School 2020 plan since last spring. The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department (TLCHD) has been by our side throughout the summer months and I want the community to know that we have a TLCHD-approved plan in place. Our plan meets Ohio Health Department, CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics best practices and protocols. We realize that not all schools chose to comply with the health department’s recommendations, but the Maumee City Schools Board of Education members were unanimous in their agreement that we closely monitor coronavirus data in Lucas County, looking for a downward trend in cases, for the health and safety of all Maumee students and staff. The board agreed that when this is the case, we will be ready to return students to our classrooms full time.
Our optimism grew on August 20 when the governor concurred with the Ohio High School Athletic Association that fall sports would be allowed to compete. I want to commend Maumee’s high school and middle school administrators – and specifically our athletic directors and coaches – for the countless hours of meetings and planning they put in over the summer to ensure our student-athletes would be safe, in condition and ready to compete.
One outcome of the pandemic and limited in-person seating in stadiums and gymnasiums is that Maumee’s varsity football games and many of our other varsity sports teams will have their contests livestreamed this fall via the BCSN sports app and our school district YouTube channel. This means that fans who may not feel comfortable coming out to events will be able to watch from home. If you need information about livestreaming, please visit the Maumee City Schools website at www.maumee.k12.oh.us.
We Are Prepared
We are prepared to bring students back into our school buildings just as soon as possible. Our Reset and Restart School 2020 plan was designed with input from over 50 staff members, students and parents who contributed hundreds of hours over the summer to ensure we can start school in a safe, responsible manner.
Beginning on Tuesday, September 8, you will see Maumee school buses back on the road and students will be in our buildings for short periods of time as we begin our new K-12 KickStart orientation program. Middle and high school students will come to school in very small groups for either a morning or afternoon session to meet their teachers, rotate through their first-term schedule of classes, get comfortable accessing educational software and understanding expectations for this school year. Our elementary parents, with their child, will have a 45-minute session with their child’s classroom teacher, who will identify strengths and areas that may need additional support, review expectations, demonstrate learning software and help ensure each child has the most positive and successful transition to the new school year.
K-12 KickStart dates are Tuesday-Friday, September 8-11. Then, on Monday, September 14, all students will be learning virtually with their classroom teachers providing live as well as prerecorded lessons for their students.
For our students who are planning to continue learning at home even after we are able to reopen our schools, their KickStart orientations will be handled via Zoom sessions with their classroom teachers or teaching teams. If you are not already aware, the school district provided parents with a choice for this school year between in-person classes for their child or receiving a 100-percent virtual education. The split is about 80 percent of our families choosing for their children to return to the classroom full time and 20 percent learning from home.
We Are Grateful
We are extremely grateful to the Maumee community for the ongoing support we continue to receive. Parents have answered the call at every turn, as we had to pivot our education plans in response to the pandemic. This community’s collective spirit shown over the past six months has been awe-inspiring.
As examples, the Maumee Athletic Boosters built out the Panther Den apparel store at Kazmaier Stadium and they will be selling Maumee Panthers clothing and swag during athletic events this fall. Parents and community members joined our staff on four Reset and Restart School 2020 task forces that were instrumental in having us ready to welcome students back to school in our buildings this fall. Also, parents, MHS alumni and community members supported a crowdfunding campaign that raised thousands of dollars to put music kits into the hands of many elementary school students so that sharing and repeated sanitation will not be necessary and they will still have robust experiences in their virtual music classes.
Next week, we will have a book drive, taking place with a goal of collecting 4,000 gently loved books appropriate for our elementary school readers. Books will be given away to our students to allow them to expand their home libraries and a love of reading.
Finally, the entire Maumee City Schools staff remains committed to each student’s success and have the utmost confidence that we will deliver a high-value educational experience, regardless of the delivery format. Our mission is simple: Invest in every child, every day, to ensure all students find their success. Thank you for your continued support and patience as we work to provide the best and safest educational options for every Maumee student.
June 25, 2020
Congratulations To The MHS Class Of 2020!
For many reasons, the Maumee High School 2020 graduating class is like no other.
These graduates have already proven they are ready to advocate for what they believe is right and made a positive impact on Maumee High School. From birth, they have had access to the internet, which has provided them with unparalleled access to pop culture, news and perspectives from across the globe. While their plans for the future may understandably be on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no question that they have a role to play in shaping the future of our community, state, nation and beyond. They inherit a world that has overcome so many obstacles – from solving international conflicts to almost vanquishing polio – but also one that needs to find a solution to this pandemic, address issues of inequality and support the social-emotional needs of their friends and family. It is their turn and they are ready.
Maumee High School principal Matthew Dick is sharing many of the outstanding accomplishments this class has made in his column, which is also included in this edition of The Mirror. I echo his sentiments about how proud we all are of what the Maumee High School Class of 2020 accomplished during their time with us.
It goes without saying that the 2019-20 school year was one like none other. After weeks of remote student learning during a global pandemic, we were able to partially emerge from quarantine and allow our seniors to take part in a livestreamed, albeit socially distanced, commencement ceremony on May 23 and a community parade on May 24.
Thank you to the entire Maumee community for your support of our students, as well as one another. I cannot adequately express my appreciation to Maumee parents who oversaw home-based instruction, many while working from home themselves. Maumee educators also deserve to be recognized for modeling for our students what it takes to be a lifelong learner. Their flexibility and thoughtfulness invested in our students were impressive!
Congratulations to the Maumee High School Class of 2020!
May 27, 2020
Maumee’s 2019-20 School Year Comes To A Close
Although it may go without saying, this has truly been a year we will never forget. We ended the school year with a livestreamed graduation ceremony on May 23 and a community parade for our seniors on May 24. Thank you to the entire community for your support of our students as well as one another during the COVID closure. I cannot express enough my appreciation for Maumee’s parents who provided home instruction, many while working from home. Our educators also deserve to be recognized for their creativity as well as being role models with respect to being lifelong learners. Their flexibility and thoughtfulness invested in our students were impressive!
2020-21 School Year Plans
As we begin to plan for the 2020-21 school year, we will focus on finding safe, responsible ways to reopen our buildings to students and staff in August. In alignment with this vision, we are organizing our thoughts and energy around four task forces. Each task force will be composed of staff, students and community members who will focus on identifying solutions to the barriers and challenges we will face as we plan to reopen school. The four task forces are:
• Teaching & Learning (focus on instructional needs).
• Activities & Athletics (focus on student activities and athletics).
• Logistics & Operations (focus on operational duties and day-to-day logistics).
• Financials (focus on fiscal responsibility/ impact).
A few weeks ago, we learned that our state funding was reduced by $450,000 this fiscal year and we are estimating another $800,000-$1,200,000 in reductions in fiscal year 2021 (which runs July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). We also learned that we will receive a one-time payment of only $325,000 via CARES Act funding. Realizing the need to remain off the ballot, we are focusing on maximizing our current resources. Consequently, we are being forced to make an $800,000 reduction/stabilization to expenses for the 2020-21 school year. We believe that by reducing building budgets, not replacing staff who are retiring and resigning, alongside having created a few new revenue streams such as capped open enrollment, we will be able to maintain the academics and other programming that define our school district and give us a competitive advantage.
Beginning on Monday, June 1 and continuing through July 24, hours at the administration offices will be 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday-Thursday. Please call (419) 893-3200 and make an appointment as we want to ensure the safety of all staff and guests. Maumee High School and Gateway Middle School will also be taking appointments for parents to come into the buildings to handle essential business.
Thank you again for your ongoing support as we work together to ensure a high-quality public education for all of our students. Have a great summer!
April 16, 2020
Empathy, Consistency And Communication
We are all aware that this is a time like no other in our lifetime. I want to take this opportunity to thank our local medical professionals, first responders and all those continuing to keep our community safe and functioning during this time of social distancing and shutdowns.
Thank you to every community member who has, is, or in the future will be supporting the school district and our families. We are grateful to our parents who are taking on responsibilities for overseeing their children’s at-home schooling, in addition to all their other responsibilities during these uncertain times. As we navigate this “new normal,” our actions will continue to be focused on empathy, consistency and communication.
I am proud of the collective efforts of all Maumee City Schools staff members from our classroom teachers who gracefully transitioned to being online teachers (not something they ever planned to check off their bucket list) to our food service staff who prepare and hand out meals each day and to our technology staff for working long hours and weekends since early March to allow us the transition to providing high-quality online instruction. Teachers immediately rose to the challenge of remote teaching and now are all providing recorded classes, live teaching sessions and class meetings throughout the week. Our students in grades 9-12 already had a school-issued Chromebook and we were quickly able to get devices out to our students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Celebrating The MHS Class Of 2020
We have plans in place to respond to any forthcoming orders from the governor and/or president. We are hopeful that we will be back in session this school year so that our seniors will be able to have some of their final awards and activities and keep our commencement ceremony on May 23, but we also have June 29 reserved because we are committed to providing the MHS Class of 2020 their final high school experience of walking across the stage in cap and gown.
Did You Know?
Our community partners, including the mayor, city administrator, police and fire chiefs and staff, Maumee Churches United (an active collaboration of the churches here in town), our athletic boosters, local organizations and of course St. Luke’s Hospital, have been partners at the table with us since day one.
We are currently providing approximately 200 students and their family members with breakfast and lunch throughout the week. This number continues to climb.
We were able to donate PPE (personal protective equipment) including masks and gloves to area health care providers, disinfecting wipes to the Maumee branch of the USPS and we put our 14 3-D printers into action to print face shields and headbands for PPE that Dana Corp also contributed to.
We are working diligently to serve our students and families who are struggling to have their basic needs met before they can be successful with their schoolwork.
We have supports in place for those who need assistance to meet their social and emotional health needs and we are publicizing services provided by organizations and agencies across Northwest Ohio.
Beyond Coronavirus School Closing: Summer Camps & Projects
We are actively planning for summer permanent improvement projects across the district and getting things ready for back-to-school for the 2020-21 school year. We are planning to hold our annual Summer Enrichment Camp for students in grades K-8 and our annual youth sports camps offered by our varsity coaches and student-athletes.
Board Approves Move To Capped Open Enrollment
At the April 2 board of education meeting, the board voted unanimously to begin capped open enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. Capped open enrollment allows the school district to accept out-of-district students for enrollment up to a student-to-teacher classroom ratio that is preset.
Using this year’s enrollment numbers, the school district could enroll up to an additional 122 students. Enrollment applications are prioritized based on eight criteria that are set by board policy and include owning property in the school district, working in the school district, having a grandparent who lives in the school district and a having a parent who is an MHS alumnus.
The positive financial benefit for moving to capped open enrollment is $6,020 from the state of Ohio for each of these students. We believe making this change allows our school district to maintain course offerings at Maumee High School, the middle school concept at Gateway and an even number of elementary classroom sections at Fairfield and Fort Miami. Maumee enrollment has decreased over the years. As an example, in the 2009-10 school year, Maumee had an enrollment of 2,686 students and in 2019-20, enrollment is 2,252 (434 fewer students).
To learn more about Maumee’s capped open enrollment, visit maumee.k12.oh.us and search “capped open enrollment.”
January 30, 2020
District Celebrates Board Of Education Members, Opposes EdChoice Expansion On Flawed Data
“Being with my teacher today was the best thing about my day.” – fifth grade student
This was the response I recently received after asking a Wayne Trail student to share what they enjoyed about school at Wayne Trail. I include this quote because I believe it represents the thoughts and feelings of so many of our students. Maumee staff members provide a supportive and caring environment that supports the whole child – academically as well as psychologically and physically. Being able to provide this type of learning environment for our students has been an ongoing focus of our board of education members.
Given that January is Ohio School Board Appreciation Month, it is important to recognize the individuals who provide the foundation and guidance that make our successes as a district possible. The Maumee City Schools Board of Education includes president Stephanie Piechowiak, vice president Janet Wolff and members Diane Balcerzak, Jennifer Campos and Mike Wiley. They are the guideposts for our district. These five dedicated community leaders support the education of public school students by thoughtfully setting policy and providing direction that ensures the district can provide the best possible education for each and every student from preschool through high school graduation. Evidence of their work is seen in two Ohio Department of Education awards we recently received: the Purple Star Award, recognizing districts dedicated to supporting military families, and the Momentum Award, recognizing the academic progress students are making as compared to other districts across the state. These successes would not be possible without our board’s dedication and oversight.
Maumee’s board of education recently passed a resolution opposing the expansion of Ohio’s EdChoice program. If you have not heard about EdChoice, it is a voucher program that uses data from a flawed state report card to unfairly label public schools as “failing” and forces districts to subsidize private school tuition with public tax dollars. If legislative changes are not made at the state level prior to Saturday, February 1, 70 percent of Ohio’s districts will have at least one EdChoice building. This is a 422-percent increase since last school year.
To be clear, Maumee does not have any schools that are designated for this program. We do not oppose school choice or accountability. What we oppose is the flawed methodology and funneling of public funds away from public schools.
For example, there are several local, suburban school districts (very similar to Maumee) that receive approximately $2,400 per student each year from the state of Ohio. The EdChoice program mandates that if a student living in the attendance area of an EdChoice-designated high school decides to use an EdChoice voucher to attend a private school, the private school receives $6,000 for that student. This means the public school district must make up the $3,600 difference in funding. Keep in mind that there is little accountability that follows these dollars as private schools operate under a separate set of standards, including selective admittance and very little public reporting of student academic achievement to date.
Since it cannot be overstated, let me say again that Maumee’s board of education and administrators do not oppose the concept that parents should decide how and where they want their children to be educated or for being held accountable for the academic success of our students. Our goal in opposing the expansion of the EdChoice program is to ensure that decisions made by the state legislature are based on sound educational data and that if private schools choose to accept public dollars through the EdChoice program, they also agree to adhere to the same educational accountability standards as the public schools that are losing funding.
I will end by thanking you for your continued support of our students. I also want to personally invite you to attend the upcoming performances of Footloose on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 20, 21 and 22 in the Performing Arts Center at Maumee High School. If not the spring musical, how about coming out to Arts Fest and STEAM Night on Wednesday, April 29 at Maumee High School? I am so proud of our students who continue to showcase their talents both inside our classrooms and through their extracurricular activities. Our cheerleading and dance teams recently qualified for the state competition and our volleyball team made it to the final 16 teams in the state this past fall. As the winter sports and extracurriculars wind down, I’m sure we will have additional student accomplishments to share with the community.
If you don’t already know, Maumee senior citizens are eligible to obtain a Golden Panther card that provides free admission to our middle and high school athletic events and theatrical performances. Call us at (419) 893-3200 for more information about how to obtain your card.
Thanks to your support, we continue to be a community that invests in every child, every day to ensure all students find their success!