This summer was pretty special. For starters, we did not have to move into a new house. Second, we actually got to enjoy a lot of activities in and around Syracuse, and I had a chance to get my family acclimated to the area. Third, I got the opportunity to sit in and play with a band, play on a softball team, and watch my sister skate on her Roller Derby team. Fourth, I had the opportunity to teach a graduate course at LeMoyne College. Fifth, of course, would be that I get to enjoy the State Fair with my family.
No, I don't get summers off. I just like to keep busy. I think it is important for everyone to have things to do that do not involve work. It is okay to leave the office every now and then and do something with your family or for yourself. It will all be there when you get back!
Speaking of work, we spent a lot of time this summer making sure that all of our budget adjustments were in place for the start of the school year. We were fortunate that our planning actually worked in our favor and a few of the items that had been slated to be cut were actually able to be restored. Most notably, the hours for our Early Literacy Teaching Assistants, field trips, and some limited equipment were returned to the budget.
Patty Davern is putting together a very nice program and continuum for enrichment for all of our students and our distance learning equipment is almost here. The interactive boards that we installed this summer in classrooms are already being used by teachers arriving early, and I am looking forward to seeing how they are used in classrooms with our children.
We are also going to be able to provide better services to a segment of our student population that has not been reached adequately in the past, thanks in part to the federal stimulus package. Federal monies can only be used for new programming or to avoid layoffs, so we are going to use a portion of our allocation to begin a new program for students who are at-risk. My definition of students who are at-risk is: those who have had sudden changes in attendance, behavior, and grades. I think in our neighborhoods, churches, and schools we can identify those children who are at-risk. These children, when left unchecked, get into the habit of making poor choices which can lead to drug use, pregnancy, truancy, fighting, bullying, and dropping out of school. The time spent trying to react to the actions of at-risk students is a waste of time in my opinion and that time is taken away from students who are not at-risk. Everyone loses.
Our plan is to provide a K-12 integrated system involving guidance, programming, and counseling so that all children receive opportunities to advance, complete, and be enriched by their school experiences. To do this, we are expanding our high school pro-school program, we are exploring credit recovery and accrual options via technology, and we are looking at providing better at-risk counseling K-12. I think you will see immediate improvements even if you do not have a child who is considered to be at-risk. I expect the number of discipline referrals to drop, time on task in classrooms to increase, and student morale to improve as all students recognize that they have a chance to be successful.
We are also re-evaluating our Special Education programs as well as our guidance structure. We need to make sure that we have top to bottom accountability in both areas so that we can more efficiently transfer children from elementary, to middle school, to high school. I hope to have these structures changed by mid-Fall and will make sure that our new organizational charts and service charts are made available to you on our website.
Thanks to our maintenance and custodial workers. We take their work for granted, but you would recognize them if one thing was out of place, which never happens.
All for now. I will be posting at least once a week from now on as we get ready for school. Make sure to sign up for a Twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/cbrownwgcsd). You will get posts more regularly so that you can always be in the loop. I will also use Twitter to announce snow days and delays before I contact the media.
See you soon.