Superintendent's Report for January 30th

Superintendent's Report for January 30th

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Norris Board and administration met the evening of January 30th for our annual management team retreat.  The purpose of said retreat was to review and discuss Board goals and areas of focus.  No motions were made and no actions were taken at this work session.

Board goals and areas of focus for 2012-13:

Board Goals and Areas of Focus

  1.     Insure that the 3-5 Intermediate School and facility renovation to the high school are completed, furnished, and owner-occupied prior to the 2013-14 school year.
  2.     Achieve AdvancEd district accreditation through administrative and staff efforts and board support utilizing the recognized school improvement process.
  3.     The Board will work closely with the Superintendent & designees to develop and approve a budget for the 2012-13 school year that will adequately meet the operational needs and educational priorities of the school district.
  4.     Study, analyze, and develop a plan to increase the campus safety and security focusing primarily on access to buildings when school is in session.
  5.     The Board will facilitate planning  and move towards implementation of various co-curricular facilities projects, addressing both long- and short-range needs of the district.  These include but are not limited to developing field turf, campus baseball field, enlarging strength training facilities, developing tennis courts, and adding suitable visitor bleachers on the west side of the football field/track.

Notes for corresponding items above:

1. Attached are some recent snapshots and annotation on construction progress updates in the Intermediate School. Both the high school renovation (west) and Intermediate building are coming along nicely thanks to the efforts of CM Hausmann Construction and their team of subcontractors.  Team leads for grades 3-4-5 have now toured the facility.  Board members will tour (again) a week from today as part of a Building & Grounds committee-of-the-whole meeting.  If things proceed on the current timeline, we will be able to occupy the building (meaning move-in, place furnishings, set up classrooms) sometime in May which will be incredibly advantageous (having the full summer to prep!) in helping us be fully ready for the fall opening.  Personnel note: We have had a number of inquiries regarding "Where will I be next year?" from folks curious about position assignments with the new building coming on line.  Administration will make and communicate internal staff assignments by mid-March regarding positions and assignments PK-2 / 3-4-5. Some additional staffing will be required in both support staff and teaching positions. For certificated staff, this is limited to specials areas; regular grade level teachers are posited to remain with their current team assignments.

2. The district is committed to attaining district accreditation through our accrediting agency AdvancED.  The external visitation will occur in mid-September. The stakeholder input process is ongoing.  We are using the AdvancED-developed and approved stakeholder surveys.  We will ask staff members to provide input through staff surveys, and also solicit the input of students via this electronic feedback form. This will be done this spring.  Teachers will, at the building level, also reflect this spring on performance standards to help identify areas of strength and areas where we can continue to get better.  We have made an increased commitment to systemic and systematic practices through a clear focus on four areas in professional development (curriculum alignment; RtI; tech integration; health and wellness) and this work is overseen and guided by our Exec Council for School Improvement, which meets regularly to plan our PD.

3. As we continue to execute the 12-13 budget, we are now transitioning into planning for the 2013-14 budget.  Legislation is pending which would delay the certification date of state aid until June 1. Governor Heineman in his State of the State address committed an increase of 5% in state revenue going to state aid, but it is uncertain at this time how those resources will filter down to individual districts if the increase is realized - since nearly half of NE districts have fallen out of equalization and currently receive no aid.  Norris receives $6.5M in aid for this year, so it continues to be a very substantial revenue source for the district.  Board and Superintendent will work to advocate for state aid legislation which is, at the very least, not immediately deleterious to the district. Some considerations legislatively related to aid include the possible elimination of the Teacher Education Allowance.  We will advocate instead for retaining this allowance, which is very favorable to Norris since we have a higher-than-state-average percentage of teachers who possess master's degrees.

4. The personnel plan we would like to enact related to campus security is to increase SRO staffing for 2013-14.  However, this occurs only through a shared staffing agreement that involves the like-minded commitment of other county schools and the ability of the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office to help fund to offset FTE costs.  Currently, our SRO staffing is about half-time.  We also are watching with interest federal initiatives promising grant funding for SROs and other school safety programming, and will pursue any resources available.  The operations plan the district will enact related to campus security is to move to electronic locking mechanisms with institution of a card reader and video surveillance buzz-in at identified main entrances during the regular school day.  The Intermediate will have such a system in place upon opening in August, and we will move to retrofit the existing buildings.  How quickly we can enact this plan (whether work is done on other buildings this summer or delayed) will be a reflection of the resources available.

5. The Board will consider at the February meeting awarding an architectural services contract for designs for the identified area (former MS entrance/commons area in east-northeast HS and adjacent class space) for fitness center to expand the space available for strength training / Body Conditioning.  We have solicited proposals from three different firms.  By getting drawings to a substantial degree of completion for this area, we will be able to get hard numbers bid on it to make a determination about the actual renovation construction cost is and whether we can proceed.  The Board will also consider at the February meeting contracting with a firm for media services for a capital campaign to cultivate donor interest and solicit donations to determine what level of charitable commitment exists to accomplishing the identified facilities development projects.  We will turn to a committee of community/parent volunteers to help champion this effort. Teachers in the identified HS area will not be displaced but will be able to occupy other available classrooms in the HS when this re-purposing of the area does occur. The Beatrice Daily sun profiled the total project in a recent article. We'll host another info meeting on the evening of Monday, February 11 at 7 pm.