Superintendent Evaluation by nTG0yV

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									                          Superintendent’s Annual Report

                   Prepared for Board of Education Evaluation
                                    June 2006
                  By Dr. Jerry Wilson, Superintendent of Schools

Introduction
       Beginning a superintendency in a district where everyone is new poses challenges
and provides opportunities that extend a new vista in a district. This past year has been a
process of discovery and next year I see it as a year for growth. Through an extensive
public engagement entry process that entailed four visits to Ft Collins, two community
forums, and an on-line survey, while still serving as superintendent in another district, I
learned about key aspects of PSD. Not to retell all the details of the entry plan findings, I
found that PSD is a high performing district due to high quality staff, outstanding student
achievement, and an enthusiastically supportive community. Yet, due to leadership
change the district has struggled with communication issues, and organizational cohesion.
        An analogy I have used to describe my first several months in the district is that
the work resembled an air traffic controller. Issues related to enrollment and other
aspects of policy management needed attention. Further, different elements of the district
were anxious to begin work that had been put on hold until a new superintendent began.
Much of the entry work and the first three to four months were assessing the nature of
different circumstances and bringing in some big cargo planes. Nancy Wright had helped
stabilize the superintendency and board members built a solid relationship with her. Our
task was to align the district to an intense focus on increasing all students’
achievements, establish a foundation for an agenda of results driven continuous
improvement, become knowledgeable of the strengths and areas of improvement in
our schools, and establish successful working relationships with staff, community
and board. Much of this work is underway.


Scope of the Work
         A major focus of the superintendency has been to visit all schools at least twice
and support the leadership moving forward with school improvement efforts. In
these visits we have stressed reviewing school improvement plans, meeting with students,
talking with staff, and classroom walkthroughs. I look forward to expanding on these
efforts in the near term as the visits become more focused.
        In order to explain the nature of different aspects of the district initiatives that will
allow the growth mentioned earlier, three categorizations outline the long-term strategies:
increasing student achievement, balancing enrollment, and organizational tools. While
each of the strategies has overlapping characteristics, the terms can be used to define the
main force behind the initiative.




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Increasing Student Achievement
        After relocating my household, we began establishing working relationships with
the board and district office staff, especially cabinet members. A board retreat gave us a
chance to talk about some issues with the information I gathered from the entry process
as a starting point. During the retreat, board members identified four topics that would
become district goals. At the same time, I met with Cabinet and shared the results of the
entry plan with them and discussed aspects of the district work that we would focus upon.
         An abbreviated process of sharing the entry data with other groups also occurred
during the first several months of the superintendency. With cabinet I introduced several
key documents that provided a background for where I was approaching the work of the
district and how I viewed different methods for improving student achievement like
professional learning communities, walkthroughs, and high school reform.
        With the release of Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) scores in
August, I was surprised by the disparities in reading results as some schools had fewer
than 60% students proficient. I learned that the chief strategy the district employed for
improving literacy was the implementation of Open Court. In order to address issues
surrounding improving literacy for all students we convened district leaders to research
best practices and develop strategies to lead literacy improvement. This work was
completed in May, 2006 and the framework will be used next year.
       The Hispanic Dialogue group led to the development of a Latino Education
Task Force, charged with reviewing earlier district strategies for improving Hispanic
student achievement and making short-term and long-term recommendations for
improvements. This team has met frequently and will present short-term
recommendations in early June.
       With each of the four board retreat topics we convened an expert panel that
considered research on the topic to develop a goal statement and criteria for the
attainment of the goal. These statements were reviewed by the board in December and
forwarded to the Checkpoint Strategic Planning Committee to incorporate in the strategic
plan. By reviewing the criteria the committee is developing performance indicators to
provide specific targets for each goal’s implementation.
        When we discussed the district strategic plan in August, I commented that
without clear performance targets the plan had a two dimensional characteristic. To bring
further clarity a clear target or indicator was needed. This has become the work of the
Checkpoint Strategic Planning Committee for the last several months. It should be
completed in the next two months. With this rewrite, portions of the accreditation
requirements will also be added.
       For several years I have believed a shortcoming of No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
national education legislation is the punitive nature of sanctions imposed as public
schools find it increasingly difficult to obtain 100% proficiency for all students. In
examining the potential of an agenda that seeks to align all students progress to post
secondary readiness, a different goal, Pre-School through Grade 16 (P-16)
Partnership, has the potential to rally educators drive and passion for student success.
With changing Colorado Commission of Higher Education requirements, a high school



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focused on a powerful accreditation model that studies transitions for students and terrific
higher education partners, it seemed timely for PSD to form goals to help create a system
where more students can find postsecondary success. The district in partnership with
CSU, FRCC, UNC and early childhood created strategic goals to move the agenda
forward. This work has ignited interest within some of the community’s business leaders
as well when presented at a Business Advisory Council meeting.
        Educating the whole child and linking community involvement within PSD has
helped identify PSD as a pilot district for Colorado’s Civic Mission of Schools project.
As a site PSD will work with the Community Think Tank to define the means for
celebrating efforts for promoting students’ civic literacy. A forum to engage community
members around the civic mission will take place next fall. Additionally, the district has
convened a group of school and community leaders to develop a plan for the district to be
recognized as a district of character.


Enrollment Initiatives
         One of the planes with the most cargo on it was the work that the board addressed
in January with the adoption of the eight major district initiatives. While these
initiatives affect multiple aspects of a student’s education, none are directly tied to
improving student achievement. Each of the initiatives may enhance aspects of student
achievement because they will impact how instruction is delivered and the teaching and
learning experience. Ultimately, grade configuration has the potential to balance
enrollment and make better use of district facilities.
        A comprehensive planning process has been put into motion that entails involving
a cross section of the community that can help develop the initiatives inclusively. For
several of the initiatives – grade configuration, and student-based budgeting, design
teams will study research to insure best practices are studied to develop a plan that an
implementation team will consider and create options in order to discuss with the
community before making a recommendation to offer the board. Needing adequate time
to build a comprehensive view to change what will affect many aspects of the district
requires careful analysis in order to achieve the best outcomes for PSD students.
        Three initiatives have been acted upon with the sale of bonds, the selection of
sites for two elementary schools, and the adoption of boundary committee
recommendations to handle growth in the district. Remaining are plans for studying the
2008 mill levy election for operations; lab school relocation; and a district facilities
planning committee.


District Operations
        Several long-range plans that are intended to improve district operations are
underway. When I interviewed, the board members indicated that they wanted to look
carefully at Policy Governance. We began talking with Colorado Association of School
Boards (CASB) to define a pilot project that would consider methods that might provide
a means to study and implement Policy Governance and community engagement
strategies. The board and superintendent have completed the majority of training


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sessions required to provide background for utilizing the new governance model. The
development of end goals remains as an important next step. This work will be
undertaken at the board retreat in June.
         In order to provide increased focus on increasing student achievement at the
district level, we have formed a Performance Improvement Council. The function of
this group, that includes all department leaders, is to join resources and mobilize efforts
to better understand how the district service work needs to align with the school efforts to
improve student achievement.
        In the next year we will be reviewing the district organizational design to
consider how to bring increased focus and attention on assisting building leadership and
teachers to improve instruction. Integral to this effort is the study of student based
budgeting. By having resources directly tied to students based on the cost of educating
individual students, the district will have a method that fits with choice and recognizes
that individual students - - not a staffing model – are the basic units of distributing
resources and allowing for a means to link budgets with achievement.
        Linking with these long-term initiatives is the work of operations and the day-to-
day school that most recognize as the key work. Essential to the work of the Instructional
divisions has been the framework for developing Professional Learning Communities.
With many new principals beginning in PSD, training efforts to support their leadership
focused much of the efforts. Through a comprehensive approach to Professional
Learning Communities the district offered many opportunities for leadership to create a
shared understanding of this method to approach collaboration. Integral to these efforts
have been the establishment of four days for collaborative time next year and the
continuation of a late start for some schools. Additionally, the district choice policy was
implemented as well as the Students’ Rights and Code of Conduct.
        In human resources, much of the work is the day-to-day managing of
circumstances in which employees experience problems of their own or other’s making.
If we have had a smooth operational year, human resources would be the side of PSD
most responsible. However, it is important to realize that the opposite is not true; in fact,
they would have the most responsibility for improving a poor situation. With 99% of
PSD teachers highly qualified under NCLB standards, and employing staff increasingly
a year round occupation especially given the retirements surrounding the baby boom
generation, HR manages the hiring and evaluation of staff.
        With the findings of the Communication Audit conducted by CASB, the district
immediately identified several opportunities for improvement. We are finding that with
many of the different initiatives and changing leadership people believe communication
has suffered. Based upon the audit, we met with the high school principals and discussed
current issues and sought input; we agreed to meet regularly. Ellen Laubhan began
attending Cabinet meetings to enable better communication about the agenda items and to
offer “communication” expertise to the decision-making. We are currently developing a
communication strategy to share this information. Ellen has also been holding focus
groups to learn more about the communications people value in the district to follow-up
on the findings of the audit.




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        Business Services and the operations surrounding student enrollment have played
a prominent role in the district. Additionally, effectively and efficiently managing
resources without this becoming an end unto itself benefits a focus on student
achievement. Meeting the desire to have transparent budget processes, the district
finalized a district audit committee that offers the public a professional external set of
eyes. Meanwhile, PSD will open Kinard Junior High this fall, another example of
outstanding energy efficient school construction that makes PSD a national leader.


Conclusion
         On the whole, I believe we have successfully built solid working relationships in
the first year of the superintendency at the district level. In the next year I expect more
results can be included in this type of an evaluation process so that it begins to take on a
more complete scope of outcomes and reports around topics like annual growth can have
an achievement result. With the scope of the district initiatives and the pace of change in
education, it will take time to address issues that need resolution like the 9-12
configuration question. Following a collaborative model in working with all segments of
the school district, I look forward to strengthening this teamwork for the betterment of all
students.




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