By Katie Dahlstrom
Developing a marketing plan to recruit and retain students, securing future funding sources and increasing student achievement will be at the forefront of Clinton School Board members’ minds this school year.
Clinton School Board members during their Monday board meeting unanimously approved their goals along with Superintendent Deb Olson’s for the district in the 2013-2014 school year.
“The goal was to make a manageable amount of goals so that the board would be able to understand what they are and were working on and also be able to go back to them several times during the year,” Olson said.
The board will be guided by a dozen goals spanning the areas of learning, finances, facilities, human resources, board development and operations as they act.
In learning, the board will focus on having 100 percent of students in second and third grades demonstrating one or more year’s worth of growth on the Northwest Evaluation Association exams or on an individualized education plan in reading and math.
Board member Jim McGraw questioned the goal to have all students growing by one or more years.
“This isn’t a perfect world. And while we should probably have a goal of that, are we going to be punished if we don’t do that?” McGraw asked.
Olson explained that there wouldn’t be any punitive measure attached to the district not meeting this goal. While she agreed with McGraw’s thought that the standard was high, she said it should be.
“Is it hard? Yep. Should that be our goal? I think so. Absolutely,” Olson said.
Olson has the goal to increase the number of second-grade students achieving the same goal by 5 percent. Further, she will need to collaborate with teachers and administrators to develop and sustain teacher leadership and hold building staff responsible for collaborating and implementing response to intervention programs.
The board also has a learning goal to see 100 percent of peer learning communities throughout the district gauging learning periodically, analyzing results and responding to those results.
On the financial side, the board will work to increase the general fund balance by .5 percent in order to reach the 5 to 10 percent solvency rate suggested by district CFO Cindy McAleer. Looking at a voted physical plant and equipment levy as the board nears the end of the bonds used to pay for the elementary school updates also will be on the board agenda this year.
As part of their facilities goals, McAleer will need to work with board members on inter-fund lending that will need to occur in order to finish the new middle school, as well.
Olson will be responsible for monitoring construction projects and developing timelines for the new middle school to be occupied while also planning for old schools.
“Not knowing about exactly what the timeline for the new school is going to be and I’m going to deal with that one way or the other. I’ve got to be flexible enough, but yet have the forethought about what’s going to happen if we are not in the building, what’s going to happen if we are in the building and what goes along with that,” Olson said.
The board’s other facility-related goal is to develop long-range planning for facility and transportation needs. Ensuring the district’s buildings are safe and secure will fall in Olson’s duties this year. She also will need to work with McAleer on the communication, maintenance and sustainability of the district’s finances.
As most of the school board candidates, both incumbents and challengers, have indicated they would like to take action on, board members and Olson committed to developing a marketing plan for the district that would address the positive aspects of the district with an emphasis on recruiting and retaining students.
“(This) would also include a plan of looking at open enrollment and how we are going to be able to look at combating or changing the mindset of our population in regard to that,” Olson said.
Board members will focus on increasing the number of highly qualified teachers by looking at recruitment, selection and retention of the teachers who are most qualified to fit the vacancy, building and district.
Board member Jack Wenzel raised concerns about the district’s turnover and its struggle to have a full roster of teachers by the time the school year starts.
Human Resource Director Jess Terrell said the goal creates an opportunity for he and the board members to talk about the district’s retention and hiring practices. Terrell also explained the district’s turnover isn’t a cause for alarm.
Board members and Olson also will strive for open and honest reporting about the district, transparency and data-driven decision making.