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Goal Setting Keeps District Accountable

Goal Setting Keeps District Accountable

The District finds new ways to help all students become lifelong learners

 

 Debbie

Debbie Patterson asks board members to modify several local policies. The special session took place in Room 302 at the Education Center instead of the board room because the board room was used that day as a polling place for the Nov. 8 election.

 

 

Setting goals for the district isn’t the most exciting part of education, but it must be done, said Peter Griffiths, associate superintendent for the Wichita Falls Independent School District.

 

Mr. Griffiths presented an updated version of the District’s previous five-year District Improvement Plan to board members in a Special Session at noon on Nov. 8 and asked for feedback.

 

The process of updating the District Improvement Plan is valuable because it creates new ways to keep the district accountable for children’s learning, he said.

 

A lot can change in five years, he said, so the goals really need to be updated annually, he said.

 

He reminded board members that the District’s Mission Statement is to prepare all students to become lifelong learners. The District does not have a specific vision or purpose statement, he said.

 

WFISD orients its education around five specific goals:

  • Develop a culture of continuous improvement and accountability
  • Produce students who are globally competitive
  • Provide safe, secure facilities
  • Promote a culture of mutual support, collaboration and community engagement
  • Demonstrate fiscal responsibility and operating efficiency

 

Each goal in the plan lists several performance objectives and evidence that will demonstrate success.

 

Improvements the District is striving to make include funding intensive remediation programs, providing more staffing positions to give academic support to strugglers, funding Class Size Reduction teachers and purchasing instructional materials and supplies in math, reading, history and science.

 

The District will determine whether its efforts are successful by making classroom visits, analyzing data, verifying that teachers have received professional training, scouring discipline data, and evaluating state assessment results, attendance records and other documentation.

 

Board member Elizabeth Yeager urged Mr. Griffiths to broaden the goals to showcase how the district would help all students be globally competent. “How will we assure success for non-CTE kids?” she asked. “We need to look at all our student populations,” she said, so they can “be successful at whatever path they’re taking.”

 

Just because students have increased access to technology or just because teachers take professional training doesn’t mean they will achieve more, she said. “How do we know the training is effective?” asked Ms. Yeager.

 

Success is difficult to measure because it could be one or more of many things that finally work and bring about change, said Superintendent Mike Kuhrt. “It’s easier to measure student use” of technology, for example, he said. “Technology is an accelerator of learning.”

 

One easy data point to track is the staff turn-over rate, said Mr. Griffiths.

 

Going through the process of setting goals “is pretty painful,” he said, because it forces administrators to study the areas that are not working. “But it’s helpful,” he said.

 

One element to keep in constant focus is student performance, said Mr. Kuhrt. “If we want 10 to 12 National Merit Scholars, we have to increase the rigor in Advanced Placement classes,” he said. That success may come through teacher training, curriculum design, the use of technology or something else. “You want to measure what you can measure,” he said.

 

Mr. Griffiths asked board members to approve the list of goals, which have been enhanced with new data, but will be rewritten anew next spring.

 

Policy rewrites

Debby Patterson, executive director for school administration, asked board members to address policy changes that will clarify the District’s transfer request response timeline.

 

She asked board members to strike wording that committed the district to a specific response window and say instead that the District will “notify as soon as possible.”

 

In the past, the district has had policies that require a response time of three weeks, but some decisions have required board approval and delayed such decisions, she said.

 

If the District becomes a District of Innovation, a more general commitment is even more important, she said.

 

Selling property for less

A property that was previously struck off the tax rolls now has a sales offer, but the offer is considerably less than its appraised value and judgment amount.

 

WFISD shares an interest in the tax trust property along with the county and city.

 

Board members were asked to approve the sale, despite the fact that it will be sold for less than the judgment total.

 

The property, 4336 Hughes Drive, has been off the tax rolls and has been requiring the City’s attention for mowing and maintenance. It is the former home of a hoarder and is in poor condition. It has also been targeted by thieves. The written offer is for $20,000; the appraised value is $75,104; the judgment amount is $37,187.

 

Budget amendment

In a 6-0 vote, board members approved October 2016 budget amendments that created a budget deficiency of $4.5 million.

 

The district has set aside $137,000 for fine arts instruments that will be purchased soon, according to board documents.

 

TexPool designated authorized representatives

With a change of staffing, Superintendent Mike Kuhrt asked for changes to the TexPool/TexPool PRIME authorized representatives for WFISD.

 

In a 6-0 vote, board members approved adding Tim Sherrod, interim chief financial officer, and Twila K. Boydston to TexPool and removing former CFO Jan Arrington, who recently resigned.

 

Human Resources report

Ten professionals gave notice of their recent or expected retirement from the District by December 16, 2016. The report also included the retirement of two clerical workers and the resignation of Ms. Arrington and 10 support workers.

 

In a 6-0 vote, board members approved the hiring of three teachers with a total of 14 years experience. The new teachers will go to Kirby, Zundy and Booker T. Washington.