Keeping students at the heart of decisions

By Cecilia Fox -

TIPP CITY — Tuesday night, Tipp City Schools Superintendent Gretta Kumpf hosted a community forum to discuss her vision for the district.

Kumpf took over superintendent before the school year started, following the retirement of John Kronour this spring. Now a few weeks into the new school year, Kumpf held a community meeting at L.T. Ball Intermediate School to share some of her goals for the district.

The core of her leadership philosophy is keeping the students at the heart of every decision, she explained. From maintaining a strong curriculum and extracurriculars, to the district’s facilities maintenance plan, Kumpf said that the students are the most important factor in any decision.

“I want us to look at things that we’re doing well and I want us to be forward thinking about other things that could help us be even better,” Kumpf said.

Kumpf also said she hopes to foster a dialogue with the community and a sense of transparency in the district, especially with the upcoming construction project.

“I want to be sure that we do listen to input,” Kumpf said. “In the end we have to make decisions, but I do want it to be a form of transparency about the problem solving and the thinking behind our decisions.”

The board took steps at their last meeting to move forward with plans for a prekindergarten through third grade facility on the Broadway site. The board also voted to defer state funding.

“That’s very, very exciting because the need is there,” Kumpf said of the construction project. The district’s older buildings — like Broadway Elementary — lack air conditioning, which is difficult for some of the younger students in the late summer heat, Kumpf said.

The board previously selected a prekindergarten through eighth grade facility plan with co-funding from the state, but pulled back after a series of unexpected changes in requirements from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

The new elementary school will be the first phase of a multi-stage process, she explained. In the future, the district will have to look at its options for a possible fourth through eighth grade facility and make a plan for athletic facilities.

Kumpf also highlighted the importance of fiscal responsibility and transparency in financial decisions, especially with the construction project moving forward. The district also hired a new treasurer over the summer, David Stevens, Kumpf added.

Kumpf also aims to build a quality profile for the district, which would include data that is not found on the state report card. District’s like Mason, in Southwestern Ohio, prepare similar profiles, she said. A quality profile would highlight things that are often overlooked by the state, she said, like the district’s world language program.

Kumpf is also focused on creating a positive climate and culture in the schools. Programs like the freshman orientation program at the high school are aimed at making sure students feel at home in the district.

“Do [students] feel welcome, do they feel included?” Kumpf said.

At the end of the meeting, Kumpf and new assistant superintendent Galen Gingerich took questions. Gingerich added that he and Kumpf share a similar philosophy for the district.

“We have a very strong mission of wanting the best for the kids,” he said.

By Cecilia Fox