Craft: Delaware Schools continue to grow

By Gary Budzak

February 5, 2014

The Delaware City School District is continuing to grow, its superintendent recently told City Council.

“We’re a top 10-percent district,” Paul Craft said at a recent joint meeting of Council and the School Board.

According to the 2012 District Profile Report, DCS had an enrollment of 5,351 students, making it the 63rd largest of 609 districts in the state.

“Three years ago, we were 72nd,” Craft said. “We continue to move up that chain as we get a little bigger.”

The total enrollment is now at 5,460, he said.

“We have a lot of the advantages of a small town, but we’re not a small school district.”

Craft said the district spends $9,681 per pupil, compared to the state average of $10,597. He said that three years ago, the amount was $10,099, which shows “one of the commitments we made is we continue to watch that bottom line.”

The district’s local tax effort ratio (income versus the actual tax paid) is 0.8944, compared to the state average of 1.00. “We’re about 10 percent under the state average in terms of the tax burden on our taxpayers.”

In terms of demographics, 37 percent of DCS students are eligible for free/reduced lunches, compared to the state average of 45 percent. Craft said the district peaked at 39 percent a couple years ago. However, there is a wide variance, he said, with 25 percent eligible at Schultz Elementary and 75 percent eligible at Woodward Elementary.

Students with the Special Education identification were 13 percent, which matches the state average.

According to the report, the district’s racial breakdown is 85 percent white, 5 percent black, 6 percent multiracial and 3 percent Hispanic. The state average is 76 percent white, 14 percent black, 4 percent multiracial and 4 percent Hispanic.

“We’re as close to looking like the state as you’re going to find in a district around central Ohio,” Craft said. “We are a small snapshot of Ohio, which is a snapshot of America.”

Craft said the pupil-to-teacher ratio has been going up. Currently it is 19.7 pupils to one teacher, above the state average of 18.5:1.

The average teacher salary was $56,543, which is lower than similar-sized districts ($57,822) and the state average ($58,120).

The district had 93 new hires last year, which is above the usual 50 to 60 per year. Craft said 5 of the district’s 8 schools have experienced major changes over the last couple years, yet “great people are joining our team.”