The Trotwood-Madison school district has avoided a state takeover by receiving an overall grade of “D” on its state school report card.

School officials we spoke with Thursday said they have had a sense of urgency to turn things around. An “F” this year would have been the district’s third in a row and would have prompted a state takeover.

Trotwood-Madison City Schools avoided that takeover with a “D” grade, but school leaders say the district’s work is far from over.

“No one in Trotwood would say a ‘D’ is OK,” said Tyrone Olverson, interim superintendent. 

Olverson said it’s just the beginning of a turnaround for Trotwood-Madison City Schools. After previously ranking last of Ohio’s 608 school districts for state test performance index, Olverson is handing out bracelets that read “608 to great.”

“Students will recognize right away that there are many more people that are supporting them,” Olverson said.

Some of those people include social workers, mental health specialists and deans of students – all new positions in the school district, Olverson explained. Since he was hired in April, he has also reassigned teachers and increased hours for extra help, he added.

“A’s or B’s are expected when it comes to grades, or an occasional ‘C,'” Olverson said. “If not, we’re inviting students to come in for additional support.”

The district has also added new standards for curriculum and significantly increased classroom observations by administrators, Olverson said.

During the first 30 days of school last year, administrators conducted 50 classroom observations across the district, Olverson said. This year, that number jumped to 855, he added.

School board president Denise Moore credits new district leadership for the improvements, but she said she believes the staff can’t do it alone.

“We have to do it as a collaborative effort with our community,” Moore said. “With our parents, with our stakeholders, with our other elected officials.”

Parents we spoke with said they’re hopeful the district will be able to turn things around after dodging a state takeover.

“I’m glad they avoided it,” said Lynda Scott, whose children and grandchildren have attended classes in the district. “I just hope it encourages them to excel in the areas that they need help in.”

The district’s overall grade is a “D,” but the district received some F’s in specific categories, such as “achievement” and “prepared for success.”

The district’s biggest improvement was in “gap closing,” or narrowing the difference in achievement levels between groups of students, according to officials. That went from an “F” last year to a “B” this time around.