Superintendent's Report for November, 2012
I have been engaged for the past few months in meeting with and listening to a number of individuals and groups, both from within the schools and districts as well as beyond, to more fully understand the current state of both the Five Town CSD and the MSAD # 28 and what staff, students, and community members hope for their schools. I will attempt to summarize some of what I have learned, as well as synthesize the current broader context in which schools operate.
First, let me outline some drivers of school change that we ignore at our peril. The first driver is changing demographics. In Maine, the number of school age children is in decline, and the population as a whole is aging. That is no different for our area. Although the numbers of students at CRES and CHRHS have increased somewhat this year over last year, we are still at a lower enrollment than years of the past. The population of the State of Maine as a whole and the Mid-coast area in particular is aging. Fewer and fewer people in our communities have a direct connection with our schools.
A second driver is the need to accomplish more with the same or less funding. More of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Our districts do not receive state funding except for our debt service. That means that more of our students need resources from schools at a time of increased competition for resources. Schools will have to accomplish more with the same amount of resources.
Another driver is competition for students. We have had a number of students who are home-schooled by parent choice, and a few who attend private schools. The competition for students has opened up more widely with the increase in virtual schools, charter schools, and the possibility of school choice. I am confident that many parents across the region would like to send their children to our schools because of the quality of education they find in our districts, and the opportunities open to students. Unless a new funding mechanism accompanies school choice, the lack of state funding for our schools would place the cost of educating non-resident students squarely on local taxpayers.
These drivers have the effect of creating needs that must be recognized and responded to in order to secure a future for the schools. We must develop and maintain a growth mindset, which is typified by an attitude of continual improvement and the full utilization of the capacity that the districts have already. We need to develop and support an entrepreneurial attitude to find new ways of teaching and learning, with an increased use of technology to create new ways of educating, and to strengthen and capitalize on community resources and connections.
We need to develop continuity in leadership, and increase the capacity for leadership that is distributed across all levels so that good ideas can emerge and flourish wherever they are found.
The administrators of Five Town CSD and MSAD # 28 met in August and identified three goals:
- Finish aligning the K-12 Curriculum with the COMMON CORE across all grade levels and begin implementing the standards into classroom instruction
- Coordinate Five Town work to finish aligning essential outcomes with COMMON CORE across and between grade levels
- Better define our expectations for guaranteed and viable curriculum
- Underscore the importance, value, and expectation that all staff must work collaboratively to insure that all students get the same quality of instruction, regardless of the assigned teacher
- Lay the foundation for the full implementation of the Art and Science of Teaching instructional platform.
- Work as equal partners with Union 69, SAD 28, and CSD administrators in the best interest of students.
The Five Town CSD Board and MSAD # 28 Board met in August and September, and approved their goals during their October meeting. The Five Town CSD goals are:
- Evaluate programming proactively and make a decision about continuation.
- Build in time
- Develop Criteria
- Task to Curriculum Committee
- MLTI Ends. What’s next?
- Vision for Technology
- Vision first, program second
- Includes broad spectrum
- Status of Standards
- Implementation & Development
- Next Steps
The MSAD # 28 goals are:
- To adopt a long range plan and vision for CRMS.
- Get a handle on standards-based education.
- To improve the use of technology, and have a better more effective website.
One of my roles as Superintendent is to translate the goals that have been set into an action plan for the districts. I have done that in the draft action plan that is attached. Staff members will see a continuation of the work of identifying instructional goals that are based upon standards and to learn about the comprehensive framework of the Art and Science of Teaching. As the Steering Committee continues the work of learning how to implement the comprehensive framework known as the Art and Science of Teaching and practicing the use of instructional rounds to observe other teachers, we will plan to expand that work next year to open up opportunities for other staff members to participate with the eventual goal of full fruition implementation. As professional staff examines educational practices, we will undoubtedly identify practices that need to change throughout the system in order to ensure that all students achieve high standards. Some of that work to achieve standards will be integrated with the other Board goals of increasing the effective use of technology and evaluating programs.
This plan of action is ambitious, but a synthesis of good work that I see already in progress throughout the district. The strategies are developed to support collegial work among all staff members, and to recognize and encourage leadership throughout the schools. The task before us, to educate all students to high standards so they can be competent, confident and compassionate citizens, is large enough for each of us to play an important role.