Pay Theory Blog
April 12, 2022

How Indian Hills became the #1 School District in Ohio

The Indian Hills School District in Southwestern Ohio is considered the number one district in Ohio –  boasting 27 AP course offerings and an average composite ACT score of 27.4. The collective effort of their school board and staff has helped the district rise to the top of national rankings.

Keep reading to learn more about how Indian Hill’s 18 person executive team created a cohesive financial plan that maximized opportunities and enrichment available for students and families.

1. Board and Staff Meeting Integration

At Indian Hills, 58% of school expenses go directly to student instruction, while the rest is split between district infrastructure and support services for students. Compared to a national average of $6,000 per student, Indian Hills is able to spend nearly $11,000 on yearly instruction per student.

The school board is able to achieve community support for this spending by courting a variety of stakeholders and perspectives when it comes to expense management.  For example, in an average month there are 2 PTO meetings to gain parent insight, 2 school-specific staff meetings, and 1 Ohio Board of Education meeting.

Board members and school treasurers often participate in each of these meetings, gathering community feedback and sharing the district’s goals and financial plans to help maximize support and enrichment.

2. Making a School Promise to Adhere By

Indian Hills defines its IH Promise as a commitment to  “prioritize students by empowering their voice in a personalized, collaborative, and inclusive learning environment.” Twice a year, the school board shares an “IH Promise Newsletter” updating the community on collaborative board efforts to further this promise.

Creating a school promise and using it to guide district activity can be especially helpful for a large school leadership team like that at Indian Hills. A promise can help the team reach a consensus on district priorities, and promote deeper district decision making while raising student achievement and community satisfaction.

3. Future Focused Planning & Timelines

Lastly, Indian Hills' doesn’t just plan for the short term. Superintendent Kirk Koennecke recently shared her 5-Year Strategic Plan in February of 2022. The plan has over 2,200 stakeholders: including students, staff, community members, and alumni.

The plan is not only approved by the board, but also takes into account the feedback of 160 students who participated in focus groups and a 22 person​​ planning-and-design team that met over the course of over 10 sessions. By reflecting on room for improvement from a high-level and learning directly from students and staff, the board sets up a long-term strategy to best manage their resources.

Overall, there is no one driving factor that helps integrate all school board members to align with the district goals. Instead, it’s a combination of community outreach and planning that has helped Indian Hill’s become the top school district in Ohio.