Watervliet School Board updated on strategic planning process; The district is clearly a “highly desired school of choice”
By Annette Christie The Watervliet School Board received an in-depth review of just where the strategic planning process is and where it is going, at their Monday, Feb. 10 meeting. The team of Superintendent Ric Seager, Curriculum Director Susan Toothman, and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) Consultant Vickie Markavitch provided the current assessment and community engagement report. It presented the findings of the “ENGAGE” phase of the process, the data gathering and focus group involvement portion. Toothman presented the academic data – much of what is available right on the district’s website on the dashboard. The data was presented, by school, and showed how Watervliet Schools compare to like districts and state-wide. She noted that the data is not always the whole picture as it is compiled by looking at about 100 students per grade. Comparisons were made by looking at overall performance, testing scores, economic status, gender, college/career readiness, advanced course pass rate, and graduation rate. Toothman even presented data on the beyond-high-school performance with regard to college enrollment and completion.
PANTHER PRIDE AWARD… winner for the month of February was announced at the last Watervliet School Board meeting. The winner of this month’s award was given to volunteer Masano Crago. Crago (center) was acknowledged for her endless volunteer work and stepping in to do whatever is needed to support the Watervliet Panthers. The award was presented by Watervliet School Board and Superintendent Ric Seager. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)
Seager presented some data with regard to the culture and climate of the district as it compared to other like districts and state-wide. He noted that the more they have kids out of school, the less likely they are to achieve. “We would rather not suspend or expel kids,” Seager said. There was some discussion on attendance rates. Seager said that studies show that schools that have attendance rates under 95% have an ill effect on the success of the students and the school overall. Markavitch reviewed the findings from the surveys and focus groups that were held with teachers, parents, staff, students, stakeholders, and the community. The state of the district survey was completed by 91 stakeholders. Data showed that it was compiled from 46.2% teachers, 22% staff, and 18.7% that were parents with students attending the school. Those who responded noted that the district schools were safe, the facilities were well maintained, the district has high standards for student performance, the district employs effective teachers, administrators and support staff, and technology is integrated into the classroom. Surveyors said the top priorities for the future were to foster a positive, professional climate of mutual trust and respect among faculty, staff and administrators; establish a culture of high expectations for all students and personnel; recruit, employ, and retain effective personnel; provide transparent communication; and integrate personalized educational opportunities into the instructional program. In the focus groups, participants were asked to describe what a Watervliet High School graduate should look like. Some of the descriptions given were to be able to adapt and grow intellectually, socially and economically; able to independently handle basic life skills; appreciate the differences in others; be college and/or career ready; and be a confident, contributing member of the community. The talented and dedicated teaching and support staff was said to be the top strength of the district. Extra-curricular opportunities in athletics and music were also noted as a strength. The district is clearly a “highly desired school of choice” given that it is 28% school of choice students. Some of the issues that were noted as needing addressing was for more behavior interventionists/counselors, consistency with policies, consequences, and discipline programs; more consistent training and use of PBIS in all buildings; and social-emotional curriculum for students in all grades. Some other comments in Markavitch’s review were that the district will need to look at their facilities and staffing if the growth is going to continue, and that the teacher and support staff salaries needed to be studied to insure that it is fair and competitive. Overall, the vision for the district’s future as seen by those that participated in the focus groups: Be the premier district in the county and the best small school district in the state. The process will move to Phase 2 now, “FOCUS” which includes creating a framework for broad direction and priorities in a more formal strategic planning document. The plan will include the mission, vis