From the Superintendent's Desk
By Superintendent Leonard P. Lueck
The School District of Brodhead worked last summer to choose goals for the 2015-16 school year. After discussing several very good ideas, the Board and Administrative Team settled on three District goals. The first District goal was to increase achievement in all areas through a rigorous and balanced curriculum measured by assessments. The District is using three different strategies to achieve this goal. Those three strategies include professional development, the use of curriculum management software (Eclipse), and the use of assessment software (Edu Climber).
In the area of professional development, it is critical for teachers to have ongoing and regular opportunities to learn from each other. Ongoing professional development keeps teachers up-to-date on new research on how children learn, emerging technology tools for the classroom, new curriculum resources, and more. This year, the staff is involved in a book study, Maximum Tier One: Improving Full Class Instruction by Pat Quinn. This professional development opportunity provides teachers with strategies, techniques, and instructional models to increase learning and success in the classroom.
Brodhead started the year off with a four-district shared in-service. At this in-service Pat Quinn presented strategies and techniques that teachers could use in the classroom. Since then, each building staff has been reading and organizing different activities for sharing information from this book.
Each building staff has been addressing professional development individually as well. The Elementary School has spent time learning about research-based reading instruction. They have also continued their work on the balanced literacy components and how to accurately assess students. Balanced literacy is a comprehensive program that emphasizes a balanced approach to teaching reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. The Elementary School has also spent time working on “I Can” statements.
At the Middle School, two teachers were sent to a SMART Board training on the overview of the SMART Board and SMART Notebook collaborative learning software. The workshop walked users through the SMART Notebook features and helped educators gain an understanding of why the software is an important part of daily classroom activities. Our teachers developed extended SMART Board integration strategies and learned various lesson creation techniques. These two teachers and our Technology Director then trained the Middle School teachers on the integration of this technology tool into daily lessons to increase learning and success in the classroom.
Another area where teachers have received professional development is learning how to operate the District’s new data management system, which is called Edu Climber. The Middle School math teachers participated in a professional development day during second quarter that focused on learning how to use Aims Web to monitor students who are in a math intervention. Now that the teachers have data, the next step is to input this data into Edu Climber. Our school psychologist demonstrated and provided step-by-step directions on how to use Edu Climber.
The High School has continued its work on their intervention periods and the uses of Edu Climber. They spent part of an in-service learning how to use Google.docs to share information. This process will help them organize the intervention period and teachers can use this format to share locations, subjects, data, and scheduling.
The District’s second goal was to continue to engage the community in the direction of our School District. We have continued to offer our regular programs like the Veterans’ Day Program, Holiday Senior Luncheon, Madrigal, Caroling, Senior Citizen Prom, and Senior Projects. These programs are designed to entertain and provide an opportunity for the community to participate in activities alongside our students and staff. We have continued to use our local newspaper to share information about the District. So far there have been articles concerning District goals, curriculum/standards, summer work projects, new school slogan, and referendum information.
The Board has hosted two Public Meetings and advertised regular meetings for community members to hear about the District finances and offer suggestions. The Board discussed our current situation and listened to questions and concerns regarding a possible referendum. After theses meetings and seeking out community input individually, the Board decided to run an April referendum asking for $950,000 a year for three years.
In November the District Leadership Committee decided to change our current District slogan that has been used for years. The current slogan is not widely used or known to many. The District advertised for people to submit entries for this slogan. We received seventy entries over a two week span. The Board, Leadership Team, and Administrative Team are in the process of narrowing it down to five that the community will get to vote on.
The District’s third goal was to continue to seek an appropriate balance between maintaining excellent programs for our students and fiscal accountability to taxpayers. Referendum has been the solution to fiscal responsibility in the past and the Board chose to put another referendum to the public for the future. The Board held two public meetings and discussed this topic at regular meetings since last August in an effort to gather public opinion. After numerous meetings/discussions, the Board chose to run a $950,000 referendum. This amount may or may not cover the District expenses in the future, but it is an amount that the Board felt the public would support. With the lowest mill rate in the area, this amount will allow the District to keep a low mill rate while maintaining the current programming.
The Board will be addressing staffing needs for 2016-17 in February. Although the number of staff was reduced for 2015-16, a Special Education teacher had to be added back to the District in December. The number of students in this area increased and the District could not meet the needs of the students without the addition of a Special Education teacher.
The District continues to apply for and receive a number of grants to help supplement the cost of programs. The most exciting grant for this year has been the Community Learning Centers Grant. This was a $75,000 grant to start an after school program at our Elementary School. This program provides an opportunity for approximately 75 students that need extra help with homework and socials skills. Brodhead continues to apply and receive other grants such as Youth Apprenticeship, Perkins, Educator Effectiveness, and Title grants. Many teachers have received other smaller grants to supplement classroom needs as well.