Monday, September 26, 2016

Congressman and Education Commissioner Highlight OPS-DCPS Cooperation

It is not everyday that you get a visit in your district from a member of Congress.  Nor is it everyday that the state education chief pays a visit.  Last week we were blessed to have both Congressman Brett Guthrie and Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt visit education programs in Owensboro.

What was noteworthy about the visit was not so much the high quality programs they visited.  Our

community and school system have an abundance of quality programs that would have been worth a visit from either or both dignitaries.  The two leaders made the stop in Owensboro to highlight and praise the spirit of cooperation between the Owensboro Public Schools and the Daviess County Public Schools.

The visit included stops at the Life Science Academy,  part of the multi-district Community Campus program that has been focused on providing opportunities for students from five area high schools in high need workforce areas aligned to the Owensboro economy.  The second stop was at the Owensboro Innovation Academy, Kentucky's only New Tech Network high school that is a collaboration between the two districts.   Both programs also include significant collaboration with regional employers and postsecondary institutions, such as Owensboro Health and the Owensboro Community and Technical College in the case of the Life Science Academy and the Centre for Business and Research, the community business incubator at the Innovation Academy.

In an era where many independent and county school districts find themselves in open and, at times, hostile competition with each other, the Owensboro Public Schools and Daviess County Public Schools have provided multiple models for collaboration paving the way for student and community success.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

OPS benefiting from redevelopment in Owensboro

The month of August in Kentucky brings the return of students to classrooms in area schools, but it also brings the decision many local boards of education and local government leaders dread, making a decision about property tax rates. 
Our community and board of education have a long standing commitment to provide a high level   As such, the community has been supportive when our board has to raise taxes.  And for that we are thankful. 
education that focuses on the whole child regardless of the cost.

That said, this year was our lucky year.   Despite lower levels of state funding for programs like preschool, our board did not have to raise taxes.  In fact, for the first time in a very long time our district is seeing significantly increased revenues while keeping the tax rate the same.  And luck had very little to do with it.  Our increased revenues are a result of a more than decade long commitment by business, civic and community leaders in Owensboro to revitalize the downtown and invest in the core neighborhoods in the city. 

Our community is reaping the benefits of more than $270 million of public and private investment in downtown Owensboro, a stable housing market in the core of the city and a decade-long commitment to neighborhood development that has invested $21 million and has constructed and renovated over 250 homes in blighted areas since 1999. 

Our city leaders made the very difficult decision to invest in itself through a tax increase during the recession.  Now, nearly 10 years later the fruit of this investment in paying dividends with our businesses, schools, and community overall.