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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Strategic Plan Update

The District has posted a Strategic Plan Update to the web site. It's pretty thin - a 24 slide powerpoint presentation that went to the Board on December 2. It is NOT, by any means, a comprehensive list of work done on each of the strategic initiatives. It does, however, contain a couple of interesting chunks of news.

The update focused on just a few of twenty-plus strategic initiatives. There was no mention of the others. There was some good information about the progess on the improved hiring process and the pilot project of the assessment system.

The comprehensive communications plan has been deferred - as if we didn't already know that. On slide 7, Quarterly Milestones for September - December, they acknowledge that this is when it was supposed to be done. But on the slide that discusses this milestone in depth (slide 14), we learn that the communications plan was delayed by the capacity management work. The new timetable suggests that "A comprehensive communications plan will be complete by March 2009" and so it appears on slide 22, the list of milestones for the next quarter. They do take credit for "Engagement protocol completed along with summary of outreach to key civic and family advocacy groups who helped shape the protocol" but they fail to note that the protocols have not been implemented in the least.

A lot of the money for these Strategic Plan initiatives is supposed to come from grants. There was an update on the District's work to secure the grants and an expectation to hear more grant news by the end of the calendar year (the update went to the Board on December 2, 2008). I wonder what they heard.

This document while helpful in some ways, is neither the amount of information nor the level of detail that was promised to the public in the Plan. Moreover, I can't imagine why it took the District over a month to post it to the web site.

I will continue to seek more detailed information and the fulfillment of the commitment made in the Plan document.

11 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Here's a quote from Don Kennedy in a recent newsletter to employees about how the budget might efffect employees. It has the phrase "reduction in force" in it, but also says this reduction will come from attrition and retirement, plus the hiring freeze.
Some of the lost postions will be in admin and some in such non-classroom I-728 funded things as Pathways; additionally, the 4.2 million reduction in Weighted Student Formula to schools might reduce staff at those schools as their BLTs and principals design next year's budget. 90 schools, 4 million dollar reduction, comes to maybe an average of -50,000 per school.
It's unclear, still, if closed programs/schools' staff will be able to bump; This might deserve a thread.

Quote:
The size of the budget gap requires us to make reductions in staffing – at central office, in some of the activities funded through I-728 both at central office and at schools, and at schools based on reductions in WSS.



Staffing reductions are always very hard – most especially for those directly affected. My goal is to ensure that every individual who may be impacted by this necessary reduction in force is briefed in advance of information being made public.



As you know, we implemented a hiring freeze in December. The reason for that hiring freeze is to protect, as much as possible, our current employees from eventual lay-offs. In addition to the hiring freeze, we will accomplish some reductions via attrition and retirements."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, that hiring freeze is only on the general side; Facilities is spending on new hires ($500,000 over 3 years for 2 people). Mr. Kennedy should at least be honest about it.

dan dempsey said...

Seattle Citizen reported that:
It has the phrase "reduction in force" in it, but also says this reduction will come from attrition and retirement, plus the hiring freeze.

WOW!!! I believe it will take more than attrition and retirement to reduce the central administration to a realistic size.

dan dempsey said...

Quite an Update ???
Pretty much dodged the ongoing math fiasco.

There will be a focus on math & science at the high school level, whatever that means.

No mention of the abdication of the responsibility to follow the strategic plan in regard to k-8 math and state standards. For the Everyday Math pacing plan dictates k-5 math in the SPS ... nothing else matters.

dan dempsey said...

Randy Dorn addressed the House Education Committee yesterday and said that the WASL should measure students academic progress as they progress through the school years.

He also said that Algebra II for all is not a reasonable idea as a graduation requirement. Randy has a much better grip on reality than many education administrators.

As Charlie Mas has often said "High School graduation has never meant four year college ready". Mr. Dorn said that schools need to do a better job of serving all students.

I am thrilled to have a new Superintendent of Public Instruction.

I wonder when Mr. Dorn's ideas will impact the Strategic Plan?

Anonymous said...

School-based coaches were informed last Friday that their positions will be eliminated next school year. Central Office coaches will remain. That's definitely a reduction in force of classroom teachers.

seattle citizen said...

SPS Parent - you're right that it's a reduction, but technically it's not a reduction in CLASSROOM teachers. Coaches don't have classes.

Of course, the net effect is the same: fewer educators in the building, but it might help to properly identify which resources are which, so that everyone, including the district, can be clear about which resources they are losing.

I have heard many good things about coaches. In some buildings they are, evidently, very organized, motivating, many are experts in their fields, and many are especially expert in WASL-type strategies, which are often good strategies, even if the WASL itself isn't the best assessment (or at least the most properly utilized assessment)
Downtown coaches often are great resources, and offer trainings in "modern" (currently used...) curriculum and assessment.

While the loss of any instructional staff is disheartening, I wonder: If we are going to lose coaches, I wonder if it's better to lose "downtown" coaches or building coaches?

sigh. This really is hard, ain't it?

seattle citizen said...

equity issues vis-a-vis loss of staff:
Coaches, while often benefiting entire schools, do a lot of work that is remedial, particularly around WASL.

Any loss of educators is bad (well, almost any: analysis might reveal efficiencies to be had in some areas, where educators are better utilized, and therefore loss is "right-sizing") but the loss of coaches will, no doubt, disproportionately hit struggling students.

This is unfortunate, indeed. ALL students need the right resources; struggling students need more.

Anonymous said...

Many school-based coaches, especially the math coaches, spend a large portion of their days in classrooms teaching children. It's one of the ways they support the teachers and provide professional development (by modelling and mentoring). I know a math coach in the SE Cluster who, on some days, will teach three different math lessons to three different classes at different grade levels, and who also runs the math clubs for those students who are close to meeting standards.

The classroom teachers appreciate the assistance and guidance (mostly) and so do the students.

seattle citizen said...

Absolutely, SPS parent: Coaches help teachers teach (sometimes by actually teaching themselves, and by so doing free the teacher to do small-group teaching or do other work, and also allow the teacher to learn how to use strategies.

So this is a loss, generally, and also a loss to those students who need their teachers (and coaches) to better use strategies to teach them.

seattle citizen said...

Ach, just found out I misunderstood the coaches cuts. Some of the cuts would effect Pathways TEACHERS, who are not specifically coaches, but are in fact teachers teaching such things as the new Read 180 reading program (which the District should keep: developmental reading benefits from consistency across schools, and common strategies, and direct instruction...all of which Read 180 has, and all of which is a stated district goal...)
and Pathways teachers also teach Collection of Evidence, which is an alternate pathway to WASL (students produce documents that are equivilant to WASL strands, for submittal to state.)

Pathways is I-728 funded.

So some "coaches" are classroom teachers. Teaching in classrooms serving struggling students.