State of the Schools address focuses on graduating each and every student

Keynote speaker Davis Eidahl addresses the crowd at the second annual State of the Schools luncheon.

The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation, the Ottumwa Legacy Foundation and the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce presented the second annual State of the Schools luncheon at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa Thursday.

While last year's luncheon talked a lot about facts and figures and rates, this year, keynote speaker and Ottumwa Superintendent Davis Eidahl spoke on the uniqueness of the district and the different stories and backgrounds that come with each student.

"I think it's important for our community to know that it is in our mission and vision that when we talk about the Ottumwa schools, we talk about each and every student, and regardless of your plans post-secondary, we have a path for you and opportunity and experience for you," Eidahl said. "Clubs, athletics, rigorous coursework, different tracks that we really look at fulfilling our mission as a quality education for each and every student."

To reach that goal, the district has put forth a proactive plan that includes the 9th Grade Academy, to make freshmen's transition from middle school to Ottumwa High School an easier one, a graduation coach who helps target those at risk of dropping out or not graduating and the Reading Recovery Program, that takes the bottommost 25 or 30% of elementary-aged readers and helps get them all reading to grade level by the time they enter third grade.

Eidahl said the district's biggest obstacle is time, being sure that every teacher has the time to be trained and equipped with the knowledge that will help students succeed. Meanwhile, the biggest strength is the district's proactive approach to being progressive when it comes to technology and changing game plans to make sure each student has a quality education.

Of course, there were some figures presented, some of which include:

-Ottumwa High School is the 20th larges district in Iowa

-The district is composed of students who are 73% white, 20% Hispanic, 3% Black and 4% other

-64.5% of 2012 seniors plan to make a post-secondary action

-Ottumwa's ACT composite is at 21.6, while the Iowa average sits at 22.1

-41% of Ottumwa staff have a Masters degree or higher