Clay Community Schools Corporation administrative staff has developed a list of specific objectives for 2003. Although many of the items in the plan will be completed during the course of the year, many others will have only the initial steps taken which will eventually lead to improvements in the corporation.
School Board members unanimously approved implementation of the Corporation Improvement Plan. The goal is to help shape the school corporation's future direction and direct energies of the administration toward goals the board would like to see addressed. It adopted 13 target goals designed to target specific problem issues and/or provide leadership to improve the total instructional program.
One of the goals is to analyze the current unfunded liability obligations for retirement benefits.
Prior to 1990, the school corporation entered into a collective bargaining agreement that called for retirees to receive compensation pay. This obligation has been met through the accumulated cash balance. However, due to an increase in unbudgeted expenditures, the cash balance is being reduced to the point that this unfunded liability can no longer be covered.
Another goal is to negotiate a new contract with Clay Community Classroom Teachers Association for the 2003-2004 school year. The current contract expires Aug. 31, 2003. With the current financial situation of the state requiring delayed tax draws, increased insurance costs and an increase in overall expenditures, the settlement of the next contract will require a great deal of thought and discussion.
A comprehensive analysis of all compensation-related issues for all employee groups is an additional objective. The past practice has been to review compensation packages of neighboring school systems to determine if employee packages in the Clay County school system were in line with similar type positions. This review will be expanded to determine equity among each employee group.
To develop and implement Clay Community Schools Assessment Plan is another objective. This will identify the needs of the instructional program, current status through data analysis, weaknesses to be addressed and provide an avenue to funnel resources to solve weaknesses.
Corporation-wide guidelines for teaching and assessing student writing is a goal to be established.
There is a growing emphasis on writing competency on all forms of assessment used to measure student performance. The ISTEP, Core 40 and Advanced Placement exams require students to show proficiency in writing and very soon, so will the SAT. It is necessary to prepare students to be successful with their writing skills. This includes not only the mechanics of writing, but also the ability to put their thoughts in a logical and understandable order.
An additional goal is to evaluate and modify the current alternative school program.
The corporation has had some type of alternative school program for the past eight years. During that time, the program has been housed in inadequate facilities that made any type of program enhancement unrealistic. With the newly-built facility at the Northview High School/North Clay Middle School campus, needs of students can be better served. Using knowledge, experience and background from the past few years, a more comprehensive and meaningful program will be developed.
To better prepare special needs students for success is a major concern at all schools. Special needs students are expected to take and pass ISTEP just like other students. Their scores are averaged in with all other scores, which has a tendency to bring down the average. Behavioral issues also need to be assessed. One way to address this is to train teams in each building to evaluate behaviors and write effective behavior plans.
Comprehensive orientation and induction programs for beginning teachers should be implemented. In the past, a short orientation meeting for new teachers was conducted. It is becoming more important that new teachers understand the expectations of the corporation.
Updating and modifying the facility and maintenance plan is another priority.
The corporation has been operating under the same 10-year plan, updated annually. However, due to some significant changes by the board in which capital projects funds are allocated, the plan hasn't been followed. It is necessary to re-establish priorities and identify what is necessary to accomplish as well as develop contingency plans.
Another goal is to improve the delivery of technology.
Tremendous progress in availability and use of technology occurred over the past 12 years. Major equipment is in place, but it is necessary to improve infrastructure between sites. This year, an emphasis will be placed on greater integration of technology in the classroom, by administrative staff and resolving technology-related problems in a timely manner.
Information needs to be reviewed and updated on the feasibility of offering full-day kindergarten. Although there appears to be strong educational support for full-day kindergarten, the lack of financial resources is preventative. The only feasible way to afford this priority seems to be a change in the allocation of resources. The review would include all possible ways to reallocate resources.
Preparation for mandating teaching algebra is the final goal of the 2003 plan. In preparation for growing support to require all students to take algebra before graduation, much staff training needs to be done.