Yesterday staff presented an update to the Board during a Work Session on the Strategic Plan. I did not attended but just read thru the presentation. It includes survey results of both parents and staff.
Here's what I wrote the Board:
Looking at the Strategic Plan Presentation, I see this notation:
At this stage, we are highlighting data but do not yet have root cause analyses or proposed solutions.
I can help.
- turnover of staff
- culture of bureaucracy at the district (Moss-Adams
said this way back when but no one listened; if anyone HAD listened to
MA and the CACIEE report, our district would be a lot better off right
now). I think there was some movement about 10 years ago over silos but
they appear, to the outside eye, to be back.
- basic structures not in place.
It's 2014 and the district still has issues over issuing district cars,
field trips, etc. Basic things. I can't tell you how many times I've
sat in an A&F meeting and heard Kathy Technow say, "We don't have a procedure/system for that but we're getting one."
- TOO many new initiatives that
are seemingly part of the Strategic Plan but are not really necessary
to get the basic work of the district done and up-to-speed. In a word, OVERREACH. In two words, MISSION CREEP.
You need to get the basics right FIRST. You will never see this district get ahead until you do.
- go back and look at MA/CACIEE. Although dated, they could be a good first start.
ask the front lines - teachers, principals, school staff and front-line
district staff - what is your biggest challenge (high-level and
low-level)? What keeps you up at night? What interface with the
district is the most difficult? You might find solutions in those
- I'll be frank on this one. It looks, again to the
outside eye, that a few at headquarters don't seem to be working for the
district. Maybe it's the Gates Foundation, the Alliance, the Chamber
of Commerce, I don't know. Everyone has to be on the same team, NOT
looking down the road at the next best thing. I appreciate that these
are careers we are talking about but since the rise of entities like
charters, TFA, Gates Foundation, apparently there is money to be made in
making a name at a school district in a fast 2-3 years and then jumping
On the survey results in the presentation:
- the school is responsive to input and concerns of families 65.5%; district, 27.8%. Houston, we have a problem.
- ease of website, just under 40%. Not good for a nearly new site.
- for subjects/programs - no surprise where parents/teachers are unhappy. Not a single data point for Advanced Learning or Special Ed was above 32%. Enrollment, 37-31% staff; 37% from families. And where is the Enrollment Director?
- Transportation and "timely, accurate and useful info" - 31% from staff, 49% from families; meanwhile nurses get great marks from both staff (98%) and families 85%.
Customer Service - families - 55% (I'll add a plug - front desk staff
at JSCEE are not friendly or
welcoming - the phone people are).
- Data and staff; 54% use
data or reports from ADW (data warehouse); 40% receives timely, accurate, useful info;
36% district leadership meetings organized by Central are informative
and effective use of time; 19% district systems/process for student data
- Powerschool and staff; satisfied w/accuracy/quality of data accessible there - 12%
- Custodial; parents say custodians give good service 71%; customer service from Maintenance, parents- 53%, staff 30%
The presentation on page 27 says to:
- look at what programs/services can be cut internally. Start
with anything new, first.
- a special levy. No and no. Look, this is
not an emergency. The district will, eventually, have more dollars
flowing to it via McCleary. Do not create mistrust in voters for asking
for money when there is no true emergency.
- Request a major
grant from "local philanthropy." You mean like the Gates Foundation?
Or Bezos? Look, both those foundations have huge numbers of strings
attached for their grants. Don't do this either.