Superintendent’s Annual Report 2016
As we developed the 2016-2017 budget, we needed to face the unfortunate reality that state funding is being dramatically reduced and healthcare and retirement costs are rising. Our challenge was to provide optimal education for all students in the face of serious fiscal constraints. Thankfully, the Hinsdale School District is part of an engaged community that understands and appreciates the value of a quality education and — in the toughest of times — has come out strongly in support of school district budgets.
In addition to the 2016-2017 budgetary challenges, we are facing the ongoing issue of school safety. We all remember too well the Columbine and Virginia Tech tragedies, and our hearts are still aching for the families and community of Newtown, Connecticut. Obviously, the district’s first priority is providing the safest environment possible for students and staff. To that end, we are undergoing a safely and security audit provided by the New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security. While we can’t anticipate any issues the audit will reveal, we will move quickly to fix any problems identified by Homeland Security. We are also working with the “Safe Routes to Schools” program to help us provide recommendations to our families and transportation providers regarding improving safety for our students on their way to and from school.
We have successfully managed the initial move to the College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core). The standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate from high school fully prepared for what follows. This means that our students will be held to a national standard, that the opportunities for our students to align their education with their peers across the nation should result in a better prepared nation of learners introduced into real-world environments. In May of 2015, our 3-8 grade students, and our 11th grade students, took a College and Career Ready Standards assessment to determine a starting point for our student growth model. This assessment is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Key features of the Smarter Balanced Assessment include:
- Writing component for every grade
- Questions and performance tasks that require students to demonstrate skill in the areas of research, writing, and problem-solving
- Accessibility and accommodations for students at all ability levels
- Our current Board goals are as follows:
- On August 1, 2016, we will make the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA allows for more local control than NCLB. Under ESSA we are encouraged to report progress on goals developed locally. Fortunately, the Hinsdale School Board has already developed quality Board goals.
- The next challenge related to the adoption of the College and Career Ready Standards is to make certain all our students make significant growth in proficiency as measured by the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
- Develop a strategic plan, based on data, to address the long range needs of the district.
- Develop and support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, highly qualified staff who are innovative, dynamic, and dedicated to the success of all students.
- Provide a continuum of instruction at all ability levels, preschool through grade 12.
- Develop a budget and a technology plan that supports all aspects of the district.
- Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community through ongoing, open communication and a culture of openness among the board, administration, staff, students, parents and the community.
As noted in our first goal, the Board intends to develop a strategic plan this year. At the community forum on January 27, 2016, the Board began the process of compiling community input that will be of help in the creation of a strategic plan. One of the topics we discussed at the forum had to do with a building issue at the elementary school. The Board will decide this spring if this issue should be included in our strategic plan.
We are in the process of implementing a new evaluation system for our staff. We still have a few adjustments to make but the model is sound. Staff members have completed their Professional Growth Plans; evaluations and self-assessments are taking place on a regular basis. When completed, the new evaluation plan will incorporate student assessment data as an element of the evaluation.
I believe a quality education is more important to our children’s future than ever before. Therefore, our responsibility to do what we can to ensure that our students receive a quality education is greater than ever. During my first month as your superintendent, it became clear that Hinsdale is a remarkable school district that has the strong and enthusiastic support of the community as well as a talented, dedicated staff overseeing the education of Hinsdale students.
On behalf of the Hinsdale School District, I would ask the community to continue to show its support by attending the District Meeting on Saturday, March 12th at 9 a.m. in our middle school/high school gym.
Wayne Woolridge, Superintendent of Schools