Last year, the North Syracuse Central School District released a strategic plan outlining the district’s goals for the next three years.
However, according to Superintendent Annette Speach, many people felt the plan wasn’t working for the district.
“The comments that I’ve gotten, the general feeling was that it encompassed too much and we weren’t able to prioritize,” Speach said. “We wanted something we could focus on for this year, something we could give everyone in the community — teachers, students, parents — as a common focus, at least for this year.”
At its Nov. 4 meeting, the NSCSD Board of Education approved a new list of goals for the 2013-14 school year. Those goals are as follows:
Integrate the Common Core Learning standards to meet the needs of the 21st Century Learner
Increase the capacity and utilization of effective instructional practice through:
synthesis/critical thinking/problem solving
formative assessment and feedback
“The first one focuses on student achievement because, obviously, that’s what we’re here for, so it’s no surprise that’s the first one listed,” Speach said. “We did a lot of work over the summer on Common Core and the rollout of Common Core learning standards. Those come right off the rubric for our teacher evaluation system. Our APPR design team continues to work on our teacher evaluation system. The design team determined that the items listed there are the most critical in terms of how they translate into good instruction for students. The focus this year is on professional development around those pieces.”
Demonstrate mutual respect at all times
Provide opportunities for collaboration
Cultivate trust through consistent actions
Explore innovative strategies for using time
Maintain and promote a safe environment
The second goal, Speach said, has two parts, both aimed at creating a more supportive environment.
“Basically, effective schools have some things in place,” she said. “They have a culture of collaboration, they have a culture of trust and they think creatively about using the limited time they have to do the work that needs to be done.”
The first part, clearly, needs involve a physically safe environment.
“Promoting a safe environment needs to be there at the forefront,” Speach said.
But the environment needs to be emotionally safe, as well, for adults and children alike.
“We need to demonstrate mutual respect,” Speach said.” We’ve been through some rough times in this district, and we need to take a step back and think about how we interact with each other — students, parents, teachers, administrators, community member. We have to be modeling respect at all times.”
Prepare a balanced budget in a timely manner that is transparent in its development and understandable to its constituents
Be accountable for utilizing all resources appropriately in accordance with state and federal requirements
Maximize state aid and grant funds
“Last year’s budget process was not a smooth one, and we’d like this year’s to be better,” Speach said. “We’ve already started working toward this year’s. We’re committed to a more transparent process this year, a more timely process this year. We want to put forth a budget that people are better able to understand. We’re also actively pursuing grant funds.”
For more information on the district’s 2013-14 goals, visit nscsd.org.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.