May 15, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Greetings families and community members: As we approach the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year, I’d like to take this opportunity to update you on the accomplishments and progress that we have made throughout the year. It’s been a very busy and successful year for the District! My key messages in this update will cover the following:
- Updates on Strategic Plan Objectives
- Noteworthy Leadership Accomplishments
I’ve always been inspired by Stephen Covey’s philosophy of “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When we began this journey together last summer, it was important for me to ensure that all voices were heard in order to gain an understanding of where we are as a school system and a community. I shared the mantra of “Believe,” a statement that compliments our District’s Vision of Excellence for All and our Mission of Preparing All Students for College Readiness AND Career Successes. I believed in our great teachers, staff, administrators and Board, our students and parents, and community partners to work together in order to continue the District’s reputation of fostering a successful and thriving learning institution.
STRATEGIC PLAN OBJECTIVES
As you recall, one of my first priorities was to immerse myself in a listening and learning process that enabled me to identify strengths, opportunities for improvement, and hope for the District for the next 5 years. The ideas and outcomes generated from those listening sessions, paired with the work completed by District leadership teams, will help to develop and shape the strategic foci for the 2017-18 school year. This strategic plan aims to provide clarity, direction and focus for our District.
For the 2016-17 school year, below are the strategic objectives the District has been working on.
What follows is a high-level update on what we have accomplished in each of the five key strategic objectives, and what we continue to make significant progress on.
- Goal teams were established to continuously improve curriculum, instruction and assessment by providing strategic and systematic direction, decisions, and action plans resulting in an increase in student growth and achievement. Goal teams include: District Curriculum, English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science, Social Studies, Music, Art, World Language, Physical Education, Career and Technical Education, School Counselor, Talented and Gifted, Reading Teacher/Specialist, Summer School, Response to Intervention (RTI), Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS).
- As a result of the tireless efforts across the District, students have been able to achieve and grow as learners and individuals in pursuit of our Mission of Preparing All Students for College Readiness AND Career Success. In our quest for Excellence for All, we have been able to learn, celebrate and improve together to provide students with a learning experience that as a community, we can be proud of.
- Two District-wide professional development data summits were held on November 23, 2016 and February 13, 2017. The purpose:
- Work collaboratively to develop knowledge, skills, and competencies required for progress monitoring our assessment results, as a way to determine if we are on track to meet our school and District goals.
- Meeting the “Study” and “Act” process steps for individual school goals and District strategic plan
- Update the Board on our progress on school goals and District annual goals
- During the winter of 2017, a directive was issued to form and lead a team to analyze the District’s current Balanced Assessments System, and provide subsequent recommendations for improvement. That process is currently in its final stages, and the Assessment Review Team is scheduled to present its findings this month.
- In collaboration with the Board, revisions were made to the following Curriculum & Instruction policies: 330, 331, 361, 424.
- Professional development opportunities for our staff are essential. In May 2017, we started the process of identifying learning opportunities to support development and began shaping a two-day Summer Institute, scheduled for August 2017, where District staff can select from a variety of learning tracks which support their professional growth, and align with our District Vision and strategic objectives.
Culture & Climate Strategy:
- In the spring of 2016, the District launched its first Employee and Engagement Satisfaction Survey. Results were released in December 2016 and each site created and deployed a goal team comprised of staff to implement action plans designed to increase on-site satisfaction. This process is ongoing.
- Aligned with the pay and benefits feedback expressed in the Employee and Engagement Satisfaction Survey, the Human Resources Department reviewed pertinent regional data and completed a comprehensive wage study for all work groups. Presented to the Board, it was recommended that our first strategy should continue to be to “meet the market” in order to recruit and retain top talent. To further define our compensation philosophy, the District is undertaking a study of our Administrative and Teacher salary frameworks. These two studies will involve staff members to create salary frameworks that motivate and inspire our staff to achieve our ambitious aims. The results of these studies will be completed and presented to the Board in October 2017.
- Recognizing that employee recognition is critical to employee satisfaction, the District Recognition Committee has been working hard this Spring to develop and deploy a greater focus on a culture of recognition, which will be launched for the 2017-18 school year, one that closely aligns with our District’s core Mission and Values.
- Systematically, the Human Resources department focused on streamlining its communications across the District, using the internal HR Intranet site as its “home base” to increase efficiency of communicating key human resources topics, and in a timely manner.
Community Engagement Strategy:
- Deployed and conducted a communications audit that included 200 parents, staff and community members in January 2017, with the goal of identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement as it relates to both internal and external communications.
- Hired a full-time Communications Manager in April 2017 to lead the strategic development of a comprehensive Communication and Engagement Plan that engages, develops partnerships and supports educational process and programs, aligning with the District’s overall strategic objectives.
- Developed a partnership with the Washington County Workforce Alliance with support of the United Way, which seeks to provide a sustainable pipeline of appropriately trained and work ready individuals to support the needs of business and industry in Washington County. This strategic partnership aligns perfectly with our District Mission of Preparing All Students for College Readiness AND Career Success.
Safe & Orderly Strategy:
- To ensure the safety of all students and staff across our District, a systematic process was created in October 2016 to establish baseline data on safety issues. Elements of that process include:
- In conjunction with the West Bend Fire Department, create an assessment strategy utilizing the facilities management software package for each building
- Assigned inspectors to each building, to assess all rooms throughout the District
- Documented and issued work orders to resolve code violations in (ranging from minor to severe). This process is ongoing
- Scheduled District-wide follow-up inspections for Summer 2017
- Review current technology and systems to support safety and security in all buildings. This process is ongoing
- A Digital Citizenship Goal Team was created with the object of developing updated curriculum designed to ensure student safety online.
Effective & Efficient Strategy:
- We continue to utilize a zero-based budgeting process to efficiently and strategically allocate resources. The District’s enhanced budget development approach includes input from the Board and leadership team, focused on prioritization of student learning, human resources, and strategic priorities. A review of the 2016-17 District Budget, and the presentation to the Board can be found here.
- Depending on the year the budgeting process typically spans 10 – 12 months. We are currently working on our 2017-18 budget; with the State of WI’s projected completion date of October 2017.
- Developed an annual strategic planning process to guide the District in setting long-term direction supported by action plans that provide short-term direction to accomplish our goals. Noteworthy enhancements include engaging community in an environmental scan to inform 2017-18 strategic direction, analysis of student, stakeholder, and workforce requirements, and implementation of District strategic goal teams made up of teachers, staff, and administrators charged with developing annual goals and plans for realizing goals.
- This year, progress was made against the 25-year capital improvement plan in terms of:
- Board and Facilities Committee approval of project list for capital budget, (project list sourced from 25-year plan)
- Project-specific bids were submitted, and work has been scheduled for Summer 2017
- This year, we made progress against the 5-year technology plan in terms of:
- Developed a plan for applying and utilizing the Federal E-rate Category 2 Program
- Implemented and updated our network monitoring system to increase the ability to provide safe and secure access to information technology resources
- Goal of: “Provide digital equity to all students in grades 2-4 with access to digital tools and devices” met one-year ahead of schedule in Technology Plan
NOTEWORTHY LEADERSHIP ACCOMPLISHMENTS
2017 Wisconsin Fast Forward:
In addition to the work completed by the strategic goal teams, a noteworthy accomplishment for the District this year was the submission of the Fast Forward Application to Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence on March 23, 2017. Why was this significant? Submitting this application allows us to answer three meaningful questions:
- Are we doing as well as we could be?
- How do we know if we are doing as well as we could be?
- What should we do to improve, and how do we accomplish that?
To better align with to our District Values, our goals for completing this process are two-fold:
- Continuous improvement of the value the District provides to students, parents, community members, Board members and business partners
- Improve overall operational performance
We anticipate receiving feedback on our application from state leaders within the next few weeks.
Jeridon Clark Hired as Principal of East and West High Schools:
Thanks to the great feedback from community forums and panels, in March we hired Jeridon Clark as principal of West Bend East and West High Schools. We are impressed with Jeridon’s strong leadership and the energy he brings to our administrative team, and look forward to have him begin his tenure in July.
I’d like also to take this opportunity to thank Tracey Conners, Director of Elementary Education who has served as interim principal for the 2016-17 school year. Thank you for your great leadership, Tracey!
Recruitment Underway for Assistant Superintendent:
Currently, we are mid-way through the process of recruiting for an Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. Community feedback has been an instrumental component of this process – it has allowed us to bring focus and clarity as to the ideal profile for this position. We are currently narrowing down our list of candidates, and a decision will be made within the next month.
Last week we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week! We are blessed to have wonderful staff that is dedicated to inspiring, empowering and transforming the lives of the students in our District every day. I want to acknowledge and thank our staff across the District for their hard work and commitment to realizing Excellence for All.
In closing, you can expect a more detailed review of our accomplishments this year, and our vision for the upcoming 2017-18 school year in our Annual District Report, which will be distributed this summer. Let’s make the few remaining weeks that we have left together, great!
Erik T. Olson