The weather has certainly reminded us that the beginning of the New Year in Wisconsin means brace yourself for frigid temperatures! With any luck this arctic chill will be over soon and we can return to enjoying the many outdoor winter activities that are possible because we choose to live in the beautiful Northwood’s of Wisconsin.
The temperatures haven’t slowed us down here in the Merrill Area Public Schools. I hope you are just as encouraged as I am with the progress being made on significant issues within the District. There are four items I would like to draw your attention to: Strategic Planning/ Establishing Plans to Reach Board Goals, Maximizing Resources, snow make-up day, and the 2015-16 calendar.
Strategic Planning/Establishing Plans to Reach Board Goals
Effective planning begins with identifying a vision that everyone believes is worth turning into reality. We believe a learner-centered approach will engage students and improve the climate and culture in our District. We also believe that becoming learner-centered will result in efficiencies across the District that will prove to be fiscally sustainable. As we move forward we will engage more stakeholders in the planning process. Our 2014-2017 Board Goals are the framework of our plan. Our goals are learner-centered and will require us to establish priorities as we must remain fiscally responsible.
What we need to recognize is that our priorities will be competing for limited resources in the District. The best we can do is develop ways to maximize the impact of our resources. The challenge will be to make decisions that are in the best interest of the District as a whole. When we make decisions that have competing priorities, we will most likely have individuals that will believe that we should have made a different priority more important. While our decisions will be based on data, what makes intelligent and reasonable sense, and what is in the best interest of the District as a whole, we will always listen to individual concerns with the impact of our decisions. When our decisions result in a change for individuals we will listen, support, and provide appropriate training when necessary.
Over the next several months, various committees will be developing plans to meet Board Goals. Some of these committees will provide advisory recommendations such as the recent technology committee that made a recommendation to investigate the feasibility of a 1 to 1 iPad initiative. Both staff and Board members will be a part of many of these committees and we want input from our families and community as we proceed.
As we develop plans to shift our District to a learner-centered approach, we will develop processes that seek to enhance and transform learning that prepares students for college and career readiness. A guiding principle will be to not simply substitute what is happening now, but to truly redefine learning that is rigorous and relevant; use of technology that promotes creativity; teaching practices that supports individual student needs; leadership practice that focuses on outcomes; collaboration that is focused on relationships, climate and culture; and, Board relations that are centered on student success.
Maximizing Resources: The reality is that the most significant cost of education is personnel. Teacher salary and benefits are an area in which the District can maximize resources and continue to recruit and retain staff. At the December 17, 2014 Board meeting, the Board approved a transition from the current post employment benefit to a 403(b) plan. By doing this, the Board has significantly reduced the District’s long-term debt. Furthermore the District will be able to repurpose funds to provide a new teacher compensation model and begin to look at developing plans to achieve other priorities throughout the District.
Please Take Note of the following:
At this current time we will proceed with Feb. 27, 2015 as a no school day. J
We are in the process of developing the 2015-2016 School Calendar. We are interested in feedback from those that are impacted by the school calendar. The two major items that we are considering is going back to a five-day spring break the week prior to Easter 2016 and conducting seven full day in-services in which students would not attend school on those days.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at the District Central Office or feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a safe and warm January!