Posted Date: 11/12/2017
In the fall of 2016, the Commissioner of Kansas, Dr. Randy Watson along with State Board of Education developed a Vision for the State of Kansas-“Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.” The State Board of Education adopted the Motto, “Kansans CAN” and further developed the following outcomes for each Kansas district to consider in order to live this vision:
In a concerted effort to insure that the students of USD 407 are recognized as leaders of the State Board of Education vision, the USD 407 Board of Education and Administrative Team spent four hours on May 25th and an additional two hours on June 5th working collaboratively under the direction of Dr. Kelly Gillespie from SWPRSC to establish a vision for the district. The Board and Administration further reviewed current board goals by developing Success Plans. The Success Plans developed for each board goal includes specific tasks and timelines to complete established tasks. The Success Plans are five-year plans that will be revisited monthly by the Board and Administration to make sure that adequate progress is being maintained.
The Vision statement developed and adopted by the USD 407 Board of Education on June 19th states, “USD 407 is dedicated to providing a culture of learning that will lead the state of Kansas in student success.” The Board of Education and Administration has further defined the attainment of the newly adopted vision by modifying the existing board goals and developing Success Plans to achieve these long-range goals.
The first board goal is “To improve communication from the district to the internal and external publics by May 2022.” Internal public is defined as anyone employed by USD 407. External public is defined as all other entities in Russell (Patrons, Business, Organizations, etc.).
Specific actions that were agreed upon include adopting a policy regarding the use of social media for information (Facebook, Twitter etc.); effectively using and updating weekly the newsfeed component of USD 407.org district webpage; implement a weekly electronic district newsletter to all employees; provide professional learning for educators on social media policy and procedure and using social media as an effective and reliable source of communication.
The second goal that was established is “To provide updated and safe facilities to meet the educational needs of students by May of 2022.” As many are already aware, the Board of Education established in July of 2016 the addition of a second monthly school board meeting that is dedicated to the continual process of facility discussion. This past year the school district has made much progress in this process that began in May of 2016 with a joint group of Community Task Force Members, Board of Education Members and Administrators touring all of the district facilities and jointly identifying specific facility needs across the district. Beginning in July of 2016, the board established the fourth Monday of every month to meet and develop a long-range plan to focus and move the discussion of facilities ahead. The board heard from several outside agencies and in November of 2017 after a very thorough interview process, selected GLMV Architect Services as the Architectural firm to guide and lead the district through determining needs and possible solutions.
GLMV spent a majority of the spring meeting with the Board of Education, assessing the facilities and all previous studies, formulating general recommendations, developing a timeline of events that need to be achieved by certain dates, meeting with staff at each level to assess facility needs and or concerns and developing conceptual renderings based on the information learned. In June, the Board of Education directed the Superintendent to reactivate the Community Task Force, who the Architect will begin meeting with every other week beginning July 18th through October 10th. This task force will be led by the Architect who will assess the needs of the district, review the findings as compared to observations and develop options toward a final option for the Board of Education to consider. Beginning July-October, the Superintendent and Board of Education will be continuing the logistical part of the process which will include determining a method of construction, selecting a construction firm to work with the Architect, considering the feedback from the Community Task Force and Architect, assisting with communication in the community and finally determining the best course of action based upon the available information provided to take to the community.
“The Board of Education is working very thoroughly and methodically through an information and development process to update our facilities. To date, we do not have enough information to determine the best course of action that should be considered. We wish to work collaboratively with the community to determine a long range facility plan that will serve the students, staff, and community for the next fifty years,” Lawrence stated. “Much work has been done and much more work will be done before a final decision by the Board of Education is determined.”
The third and final goal the board and administration developed a long-range plan to address concerns the following, “To increase the percentage of successful high school graduates from 73%-90% by 2022.” Mrs. Lawrence noted, “the Administration and Board of Education have evaluated the trend data and believe this is an area that must be addressed district-wide, not just when a student reaches Russell High School. The Administrative team (Superintendent, Building Principals at all levels, SPED Director) has been engaged in conversations since early spring reviewing the data and developing a comprehensive action plan to begin as early as elementary school to address this goal.” The action plan to address this goal will include: studying the longitudinal data and looking for specific patterns among students who have not graduated, developing a definition of those factors which may impact a student’s ability in successfully attain a high school diploma; developing a district-wide attendance policy to be implemented consistently at every level; investigate blended learning for credit recovery and enrichment opportunities; implement Individual Plans of Study for students in grades 7-12; develop and administer an Exit Survey for any high school student who exits the USD 407 school system prior to graduating; and implement a district wide tutoring program. The district is also excited to be implementing the addition of “Porch Visits” beginning this school year in an effort to continue to develop and foster positive relations between home and school. “The Administration and Board of Education look forward to progressing toward the attainment of this goal and believe strongly it is very achievable with proper attention to and the addition of the above mentioned plans,” added Supt. Lawrence.
Mrs. Lawrence acknowledged, “USD 407 Board of Education and Administration looks forward to working together with students, staff and community to fully implement the vision and success plans over the course of the next five years.”