Garfield Re-2 School Board OKs District Office restructure
April 18, 2017
For over a decade, Garfield Re-2 has had the vision of encouraging, nurturing and challenging every student, every day. That vision helps our students and staff stay grounded in the very important work that they do daily. The vision is a 30,000-foot view of our values, but it has limitations. It does not give specificity to our work, provide specific goals to reach, nor provide direct instruction on how we will achieve those goals.
Earlier this year, the board and Superintendent Curtice approved four district-wide goals:
• Improve culture and climate;
• Improve student achievement;
• Be good stewards of school finance;
• Lead our communities.
At the March 28, 2017, school board meeting, the board gave direction to Superintendent Curtice regarding how we will reach our goals. The School Board's "road map," is a product of work in our workshops where we discussed the big rocks that are facing public education and specifically, Garfield Re-2.
In order to carry out the future work of the district, there will be a reorganization of the District Office and the leadership team. These decisions are not personal, and the impacts should not be taken as a reflection of the work or dedication that people have shown to the Garfield School District Re-2. Decisions were made to ensure that our district will remain competitive and will meet the goals that the board set. As a new superintendent, this reorganization provides Curtice the opportunity to put the right people in the right positions and accomplish great things for the students, staff and communities of Garfield Re-2. The board approved the plan at the April 11, 2017, school board meeting.
We will continue to assess and improve our climate and culture goals. We are in the midst of creating a student achievement plan, a professional development plan for our staff and evaluating the possibility of moving the fifth grade back into our elementary schools to alleviate overcrowding in our middle schools.
The Garfield Re-2 road map is anchored around our four goals — and a new one. The board directed Superintendent Curtice to be more specific with the culture and climate component of our work. We know that many of our great teachers leave our district to our neighbor districts, to other states with more competitive salaries, or leave the profession all together where they can make higher wages. This does a disservice to our students, to our schools and to our communities when good people leave. With the assistance of Curtice, we will be adding a fifth goal that specifically addresses teacher recruitment and retention. This goal will include a focus on providing a comprehensive evaluation of our salaries and providing comprehensive services and professional development that values our staff.
Not surprisingly, much of the roadmap focuses on student achievement. We have great staff that work hard for our students every minute of every day. The biggest items in the road map include the design and implementation of a four-year achievement plan, and our current work on graduation guidelines. We are beginning work now and hope to have a final plan for complete implementation for the 18-19 school year. The school board approved a new, districtwide agriculture instructor position to support the students at Coal Ridge High School and provide equal access to these agriculture classes. We have so many students that can benefit from an agriculture program and not just in the areas of animal husbandry, or the actual tilling of the land. We are excited to add this option for our students districtwide for the '17-'18 school year.
For the last several years, to stave off the impacts of declining state funding, Garfield Re-2 has been deficit spending about $1 million a year. As a district, we have been doing this to maintain our programs without cutting staff. We knew that the day would come where we could not continue to spend down our fund balance. Our fund balance is currently at $10.5 million and getting close to the $8 million minimum specified in policy. If we get to the $8 million threshold that will leave little wiggle room to replace a roof, or a boiler. The School Board has directed Superintendent Curtice to begin working toward a balanced by reducing expenditures up to $500,000 a year for the next two-years. We know that the state funding picture will not be getting any better in the next several years, so we will also be evaluating ways of improving our revenue streams — through the addition of students and the possibility of a mill levy override.
This is very exciting work, and the board is committed to providing every opportunity to support our staff and our students. We know that change can create uncertainty and anxiety. School boards support community schools. Know that we want to create an environment that fosters innovation, creativity and high academic standards while being accountable to our communities that support us. Our vision is to encourage, nurture and challenge every student, every day. The adoption of this road map provides objective measures and benchmarks for our district to reach and in doing so, helps us live and breadth our vision.