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North Hills

Pine-Richland board reviews district strategic plan

| Monday, Oct. 31, 2016, 5:42 p.m.

The quarterly strategic plan update for Pine-Richland School District was presented at the Oct. 17 school board meeting, which included the progress summary for six key initiatives.

Areas reviewed included instructional strategies for teachers, an in-depth program review, a look at standardized assessment and universal screeners, technology integration, evaluation and performance-based feedback, and the long-range budget and capital funding plan. The review was read and reviewed by Superintendent Brian Miller and the rest of staff and board.

The strategic plan update process was initiated after months of collaborative planning in the spring of 2015, said Miller.

“The purpose of the quarterly updates to the school board are to ensure that we monitor progress, celebrate results, and clearly outline next steps for major initiatives,” said Miller.

Those who want to view the report can do so at the school district website. The next update will be in February, he said.

In brief, in the area of instructional strategies, the district had specific areas of focus for all teachers, such as learning goals, learning activities, procedures or routines, and relationship-building, according to the review. Academic leadership council and building level technology coaches received additional training to support other staff members.

The in-depth program section refers to the district's effort to review each department in the district, having just finished the review and revision of curriculum from a kindergarten through 12th grade perspective in every content area, according to Miller. The written curriculum outlined the units, big ideas, and learning goals for each grade level and/or course.

He said the next step in this process will serve as a “deeper dive” into reviewing smaller departments.

For the 2016-17 school year, the focus is on science and health and physical education, partly by researching trends, other “exemplary” programs, as well as any relatable data and information, Miller said.

Current universal screeners have been given in grades kindergarten through sixth and math assessments have been given in third through eighth grades. Teachers from Richland Elementary and Eden Hall Upper Elementary at each grade level have been identified to pilot three alternative universal screeners and an update presentation is scheduled for the Academic Achievement Committee meeting on Nov. 14, according to the report.

In the area of evaluation and performance-based feedback, some of the items reported on included on administration training and how it's being utilized in walk-through feedback and conversations with staff.

The technology update included a report on the middle school Google Apps rollout. It's been used in the high school and was most recently added to the middle school classes. Officials tentatively expect it to roll it out to Eden Hall in January.

During the meeting review, school board member Therese Dawson commented she felt the rollout process was moving quicker than she expected. However, Assistant Superintendent Michael Pasquinelli said using these applications was not a requirement for teachers but an opportunity to have “another tool in their tool belt” and feedback had been very positive.

She wanted to ensure proper feedback was being gathered, particularly for those in the lower grades.

In the same category of the strategic update, the deployment of interactive display boards at the middle school, and Hance and Wexford elementaries was completed before the start of the year. Feedback has been positive for this also.

The update on the long-range budget and capital funding plan revealed the district's ongoing evaluation of the details of the athletic facilities study. Last school year, the district had VEBH Architects conduct a study of the district's athletic facilities and future needs by gathering input from administrators, trainers, coaches and people at public meetings, according to Rachel Hathhorn, communications director for the district.

Looking at the district's athletic facilities helps prepare for the next multi-year capital funding plan, she said. The plan outlines projects that need to be completed and helps assist in developing cost estimates. The study looks at fields, gymnasiums, locker rooms, the stadium and other areas. The ultimate goal is to address routine maintenance of existing spaces and to consider other facility improvements within the next 10 years.

The capital plan also looks at other building maintenance as well, such as roofs and other repairs. The superintendent, assistant superintendent, director of finance and director of athletics all work together to review not only athletic facilities but district-wide building improvements to include in long-range budgeting, she said.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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