TROY — Superintendent Eric Herman highlighted positive developments and a supportive community during the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Schools address on Thursday.
The event was held in the Troy High School commons area.
Herman acknowledged the most important thing that “makes Troy Troy” is the well-balanced student body the district works to educate. Troy High School principal Katherine Weaver introduced this year’s valedictorian, Madi Rougier, salutatorian Lauren Zaylskie, and several other juniors and seniors invited to attend.
“We’ve got some great kids here,” Herman said. “Every year, the maturity level and the articulation of these students is amazing to me. This group is exactly the same — they’d probably tell you they’re a little better.”
Herman listed the dozens of businesses and organizations throughout the area who contribute in partnership to the regular functions of Troy City Schools.
“The community does everything,” Herman said. “In listing people that are partners with the district, it’s hard, because you almost have to list everybody. At one time or another, almost everyone in Troy has helped us, or done something for us, or brought us supplies. We have enough supplies to take care of every kid — it’s truly incredible.”
Herman cited the district’s success in adapting to new technologies and having enough resources available for all students.
“We have about 4,122 kids on our campuses in town,” Herman said, “We have about 3,216 Chromebooks available. It’s not one-to-one yet, but we’re closing in on that. When you account for iPads and PCs, and put it together, everybody can have a computing device in their hand at any given time. We also have wireless everywhere.
“We have technology in all the buildings, but what we have to stay on top of is not getting behind in the cycle of buying them,” Herman said, citing that handheld computing devices only last so many years, and that the state continuously requires new updated software. “Once you fall behind on that, it’s hard to catch up.”
The No. 1 challenge Herman cited within the district is the age of its buildings, the oldest being the 97-year-old Concord property and the 103-year-old Van Cleve property.
“Our buildings are getting older,” Herman said. “I walked past a building the other day, and I picked up bricks in the alley that had fallen off the building. If the wrong brick falls, and you’re the wrong person, that’s pretty dangerous.
“We try to keep up with it, but we have so many buildings getting to that point. Sooner or later, something’s going to have to be done. We’ve got things going on at buildings that are fixed daily that people don’t know anything about.”
Herman noted another big obstacle for the district is fear of change, and that willingness to adapt is essential to make improvements.
“Everybody gets used to their comfort level and being in the same buildings, and when change comes, it’s hard,” Herman said. “Somehow, we have to learn to get over that a little better.”
Herman cited that there is available land of interest the board is considering for the purpose of erecting new school buildings.
Related to this, Herman went on to discuss the need to improve voter turnout in future elections.
“Voter turnout is incredibly low,” Herman said. “We’ve got to get people involved and get people to understand what we’re talking about. We have to do something as a community, because getting out the vote is part of what being a community is about.”
Herman also cited a need to tighten transportation safety — at railroads, on buses, at crosswalks, and in school zones.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve had six kids hit in the crosswalk,” Herman said. “Not outside the crosswalk — in the crosswalk. People are on their way to work, and I get that, but that doesn’t help a kid that gets hit.
“We had one bus a couple of weeks ago where six tickets were given. People kept going around the bus. I get passed every morning in the school zones by people who aren’t paying attention.”
“If we see something, we need to tell somebody. If we don’t get involved, it’s not helping.”
Herman touched upon school safety, an issue he feels the Troy district excels in more than many other districts, citing its three full-time school resource officers as a benefit, as well as new measures constantly being added to each building.
“We’re in lockdown mode at all times,” Herman said. “We do 80 safety drills a year. We have 55 cameras that are active and up-and-running.”
Herman also noted the efficiency of the Centurion Duress and Emergency Notification System, which link all schools directly to the police department in the event of an emergency. Herman cited recent false alarms at Troy Christian School and Forest Elementary School that garnered immediate response from the Troy Police Department.
Herman said that the best policy toward school safety is “if you see something, say something.”
“We can’t afford to keep things secret anymore,” Herman said. “If you read something on Facebook that sounds dangerous, let somebody know. Get involved.”
Herman, who is retiring his position as superintendent at the end of the school year, closed his address with intimacy, requesting for those in attendance to maintain good communication with kids, and do their best to be ongoing role models.
“Talk to kids,” Herman said. “Put the electronics down. I constantly tell kids those cell phones have memory — you don’t have to see things right that second. Eye contact is important. These kids have to learn it from somewhere, so be a role model.
“We’re truly blessed with Troy, without a doubt. It’s a great community with great schools, great people, and great partners. I’ve been here 20 years, and it’s been good.”
For more information, visit www.troy.k12.oh.us.
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