School Matters, Sept. 23, 2022

Hello Rogers Family,

Welcome to the next installment of School Matters. It is our hope these broadcasts will help keep you informed of important events and initiatives within the district. A transcript of the presentation can be found on our website. Thank you for tuning in for this update and contact us if you have questions.    

Today’s broadcast will focus on one item, which will be a discussion of our proposed district goals. I once heard someone say that the worst thing you can have heading in the wrong direction is hope.  We want to make sure that we clearly know what we want to accomplish this school year and for the next three years. These goals will eventually be converted into our strategic plan which will provide guidance for our efforts in the future and ensure we are heading in the right direction. For the last 30 days, we have collected feedback from various stakeholders throughout the school district.  We have conducted listening tours in most of our schools and held a community forum in September to solicit input. From this feedback, we have created the following draft goals for the district.  

It is important to understand these goals are not yet finalized. We have shared them with the School Board but they have not taken action. We are providing a draft copy to all stakeholders to request additional feedback before finalizing the plan at our October meeting. Please take a moment to review the following thoughts and provide any comments to our communication director. We will record all comments and share with the board before finalizing our strategic plan.  

Before presenting the strategic plan goals, it is important to identify the guiding principles we will utilize as we make the final decisions. I possess the firm belief that we must identify our core beliefs before developing a strategic plan. We need to discuss and articulate the values which define us before we move forward. With this understanding, these core beliefs will guide our priorities. The following is a quick summary of those core beliefs.

First and foremost, we must ensure that the safety of staff and students is our main priority. Second, we must ensure that all staff feel valued, appreciated and have a voice in the decision-making process. Third, all of our efforts should be focused on improving student achievement and ensuring all students have the necessary academic skills to be successful. Fourth, we must continue to be service-oriented and never lose sight that we exist to serve this community. Fifth, we must develop a purpose-driven curriculum which will specifically prepare our students for success in their post-secondary endeavors. Sixth, we need to focus on the strengths of each child and create programming around their needs. Seventh, we must continually work on developing the next set of leaders within our district. Eighth, we must provide our staff with the necessary resources and focus on being successful. Ninth, every decision we make must be based on what is best for students and staff. Finally, we need to value the individual differences of each child and be inclusive where all students belong, learn, and succeed.   

Each of the following goals will have approximately ten strategies associated with them. We purposely made each of these goals simple and easy to understand. It has been my experience that the more simply stated goals have a better chance of being successfully implemented. Some of the strategies will be extremely specific, while others may be more general in nature. Regardless of that specificity, these thoughts will help guide our efforts throughout the school year.  In this broadcast, we will not discuss each of the strategies.  However, we will mention some of the more important ones, and then provide the entire list at the end of this broadcast. Please review the following and contact our communication director if you have additional thoughts and suggestions.  

Our first goal is focused on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff and students. We will ensure we conduct annual safety audits and trainings connected with school safety. We will continue our efforts to increase the number of school resource officers within our schools and maintain a close working relationship with local law enforcement. Safety will continue to be our top priority. Safety of Staff and Students 

Second, we will focus on creating a positive working environment for staff and administration. The entire nation is experiencing a major teacher shortage and we must ensure we are providing competitive salaries and benefits to recruit the very best teachers. We must also provide multiple opportunities for staff to have a voice in the decision-making process. We must eliminate all of the unnecessary programs and requirements which create obstacles for teachers to teach effectively. We must create staff appreciation programs and ensure teachers feel valued and appreciated. This will increase the probability they will possess more energy and connect more effectively with students.  

Third, we must address the behavioral issues and mental health needs of students. Throughout the nation, schools and our communities are seeing a number of students who are exhibiting severe behavioral and mental health issues. Many of these children are not able to perform at an optimum level because of these social-emotional problems. We must create plans to effectively deal with these mental health issues to ensure we have a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. We need to develop programming which will intervene early and help address these issues before they become problems.  

Fourth, improving student achievement will be at the heart of everything we do. We must continue to identify areas of weakness within our curriculum and instructional program so that we can develop solutions for any identified deficiency. We have to clearly define the standards which need to be taught, create common benchmarks to assess what was taught, and implement effective remediation strategies when students fail to learn. Within this category, we will pay careful attention to specific subgroups that are struggling academically. Students must have the necessary academic skills to be successful in their post-secondary careers.    

Fifth, we must strengthen our early childhood programs from preschool to third grade to ensure children possess the necessary literacy skills to be successful. We must define those essential academic expectations for the lower grades and provide staff with the necessary resources to be successful. We must implement a strong phonemic awareness and phonics program in prekindergarten through second grade to ensure children possess effective reading fluency skills. We must then focus on converting those fluency skills into comprehension skills in the upper grades.    

Sixth, we will improve our career and technical school programming.  We need to better educate students and parents on the benefits of CTE programming and how students can leave high school ready to enter the workforce if that is the path they choose. CTE works well at the secondary level and all parents should consider these options; regardless of their child’s post-secondary education, all will have a future career. Students can transition from high school directly into the workforce and secure well-paying jobs without any college debt. We also want to create and maintain strong working relationships with local industries and businesses to do what we can to help provide the next generation of skilled workers and entrepreneurs.   

Seventh, the data indicates that our students with identified needs and our ESOL students need additional help to be successful. We need to create a plan to ensure these students receive specialized instruction to be successful. In addition, we also want to create an environment in which our ESOL students and English Language Learners feel welcomed and appreciated in our school district.   

Eighth, we must address some very specific logistical needs to provide essential services within the district. The entire nation is experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. We met with our transportation department last week to determine what we could do to help recruit and retain drivers. In addition, we are experiencing a serious shortage with the number of substitute teachers who are available. We suspect this is part of the same shortage of workers plaguing our nation. There are several initiatives within this category, such as addressing some technology issues, creating a more diverse staff which is representative of our student demographics, and conducting an audit to determine if specific programs are needed at this time. Also, we are creating a program to build capacity and develop the next set of leaders within the district.

Ninth, we will strengthen and improve our fine arts program.  We are committed to promoting fine arts within the district. This will include initiatives such as expanding facilities, establishing a district-level coordinator who will advocate for fine arts, and providing multiple opportunities for students to showcase their talents. In addition, we will encourage fine arts programming within the lower grades to create that essential feeder program to ensure the strength of our high school programs.  

Tenth, we must create a rigorous and challenging program for our gifted and high ability students. We have a number of students who are working at an extremely high academic level. We need to ensure these children are challenged and are presented with an instructional program that will take them to the next level. We must begin to celebrate, recognize and challenge our most academically able students at all levels. 

Eleventh, we will promote and highlight the various staff, programs, and initiatives which make Rogers Public School a special place to live and work. All school districts are competing for students, families, and industries, which will make our communities thrive.  We will develop and disseminate a district message which informs individuals on the uniqueness and benefits of sending your child to the Rogers School District. We will become the school district of choice.   

Twelfth, we must create a well-defined capital building program to ensure we have the necessary facilities to provide our staff and students with a safe and orderly environment that is conducive to teaching and learning. We will need to begin construction on the new proposed elementary school on the north side of town this school year. We will also need to develop a solution for Oakdale Middle and Tillery Elementary Schools soon. We must continue to address all safety issues and finish all current projects. In addition, we need to expand CTE programming, the fine arts program, and opportunities for preschool.  

There are a number of exciting and positive things happening within the Rogers School District and we are proud of what our staff and students have accomplished. However, I possess a firm belief that you don’t have to be sick to get better. We are committed to a constant state of continuous improvement within the district.  We are dedicated to creating a school system that demonstrates excellence at all levels. Please reflect on the attached goals and contact our communication director if you have thoughts and suggestions on how we can create the school district you want and deserve. I appreciate your attention to this broadcast and remember, School Matters! 

ROGERS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

GUIDING PRINCIPLES AND GOALS

DRAFT - SEPTEMBER 2022

Guiding Principles

  1. Ensure the safety of staff and students 
  2. Ensure staff feel valued, appreciated and have a voice   
  3. Improve student achievement 
  4. Be service-oriented 
  5. Develop a purpose-driven curriculum 
  6. Build on the strengths of students and create programs around their needs   
  7. Build leadership capacity 
  8. Provide staff with resources to be successful 
  9. Make decisions based on what is best for students and staff 
  10. Appreciate value of all and be inclusive

I. Ensure Safety of Staff and Students 

  1. Conduct annual safety audit 
  2. Ensure front entry systems/exterior doors are secure 
  3. Conduct annual safety trainings
  4. Provide additional school resource officers or equivalent  
  5. Address mental health and behavioral issues 
  6. Address specific building needs identify by building level administration/staff 
  7. Implement tip hotline and focus on early identification of safety issues  
  8. Create strong working relationships with local law enforcement and first responders 
  9. Respond to staff concerns and suggestions for improvement  
  10. Address high potential areas presenting the most likely safety problems

 II. Create a Positive Working Environment 

  1. Provide competitive compensation 
  2. Ensure staff are valued and appreciated 
  3. Provide multiple opportunities for staff voice 
  4. Provide quality benefits 
  5. Be service-oriented and customer friendly 
  6. Create staff appreciation programs 
  7. Provide necessary resources to school to be successful
  8. Provide focus and direction for district
  9. Eliminate unnecessary work and programs 
  10. Create safe environment to express thoughts and ideas  

III. Address Behavioral Issues and Mental Health Needs

  1. Identify most disruptive students and their needs 
  2. Provide alternative program outside the classroom for most severe  
  3. Provide additional staff and support 
  4. Provide family support and assistance 
  5. Intervene early to help mitigate severity of behavioral issues  
  6. Protect instructional time from disruptive students  
  7. Protect the safety of staff and students  
  8. Provide additional training and become educated on trauma-informed care 
  9. Provide wider range of services for students who are struggling  
  10. Implement inclusion in thoughtful and deliberate manner

IV. Improve Student Achievement 

  1. Define essential learnings and standards 
  2. Clarify use of Wit and Wisdom 
  3. Develop common benchmark assessments 
  4. Improve RTI process and effectiveness 
  5. Develop a strong focus on literacy skills 
  6. Develop realistic academic expectations for each grade level and subject  
  7. Create intense academic focus - Use surgical instruction
  8. Ensure vertical articulation and encourage district-wide collaboration 
  9. Focus staff development on instruction 
  10. Provide appropriate staff at our most at-risk schools

V. Strengthen our Early Literacy Program 

  1. Create more preschool opportunities 
  2. Connect preschool and make it an integral part of the entire PK-12 experience  
  3. Create private/public preschool partnerships to expand preschool 
  4. Develop common standards and expectations in PK-5 
  5. Ensure strong phonics foundation and ensure decoding/fluency skills  
  6. Develop common benchmarks 
  7. Provide district-wide PLC & collaboration 
  8. Create effective/comprehensive reading comprehension program
  9. Use data to drive instruction 
  10. Intervene early with ESOL and SPED 

VI. Strengthen and Promote CTE Programming 

  1. Create purpose driven curriculum and ensure students have some educational objectives  
  2. Align CTE programs with industry needs 
  3. Construct necessary CTE facilities to accommodate current industrial/community needs  
  4. Increase number of CTE completers 
  5. Promote CTE programming and change image of the program 
  6. Create JROTC program 
  7. Create strong business partnerships in which the school give back to community 
  8. Create strong transition-to-work program
  9. Create student-interest CTE programming where our courses match student goals  
  10. Provide more concurrent CTE credits/create partnerships with local post-secondary schools 

VII. Provide Additional Support and Focus on Special Education/ESOL Students 

  1. Determine pace and extent of inclusion and implement in effective/deliberate manner  
  2. Provide time for collaboration and planning  
  3. Provide specific training on inclusion and ESOL
  4. Intervene earlier with SPED and ESOL students  
  5. Evaluate ESOL programming to determine strengths and identify areas needing attention  
  6. Adequately staff ESOL and SPED instruction
  7. Establish clear academic goals for SPED/ESOL
  8. Provide multiple opportunities for staff voice in decision-making process 
  9. Protect core instructional time 
  10. Connect and build strong relationships/trust with ELL parents 

VIII. Address Specific Logistical Needs 

  1. Address lack of bus drivers and develop recruitment/retention plan  
  2. Improve substitute teacher program and increase number of quality subs 
  3. Provide incentives for staff to work in specific SPED programs when behavior is an issue   
  4. Define role/future of how the district will best utilize virtual instruction 
  5. Create a more diverse staff to better align with our student demographics 
  6. Address specific technology issues (blocked websites, techs assigned to buildings, etc.) 
  7. Address issue of in-house counseling services 
  8. Create school calendar based on staff/student needs
  9. Limit number of initiatives and new programs 
  10. Create a strong leadership preparation program at all levels 

IX. Strengthen and Promote Fine Arts  

  1. Construct appropriate facilities for fine arts program  
  2. Create district supervisor/coordinator for fine arts to be district advocate  
  3. Provide more opportunities for fine arts in lower grades to generate interest and appreciation   
  4. Build strong feeder programs in middle school 
  5. Provide more staffing for fine arts throughout the PK-12 experience 
  6. Highlight and focus on fine arts programming to promote its value 
  7. Fund fine arts program to ensure student success  
  8. Promote fine arts on district level and create flagship programs
  9. Provide multiple opportunities for students to showcase talents
  10. Explore benefits of fine arts complex 

X. Provide Rigorous and Challenging Curriculum to Gifted/High Ability Students

  1. Strengthen Gifted Education in Elementary 
  2. Provide Appropriate Training and PD 
  3. Promote Our Gifted and Most Able Students 
  4. Create Rigorous Curriculum 
  5. Provide More Concurrent Credit Programs 
  6. Collaborative and Partner with NWACC 
  7. Create Middle School Academic Celebration 
  8. Create Showcase Program 
  9. Provide Leadership Opportunities 
  10. Increase Under-Represented Students 

XI. Promote and Highlight District 

  1. Strengthen and Promote Education Foundation 
  2. Create Partnerships with Local Industries 
  3. Create Public/Private Preschool Opportunities 
  4. Create a District Health Clinic 
  5. Respond to the Needs of the Community 
  6. Become Active in Civic Organizations 
  7. Increase State-Wide Leadership 
  8. Investigate Merits of Day Treatment Program 
  9. Increase Participation in Extracurricular Programs
  10. Communicate with Parents and Community 

XII. Create Strong and Viable Capital Building Program 

  1. Complete Facility Study Program 
  2. Construct New Elementary School 
  3. Develop Plan for Tillery Elementary 
  4. Develop Plan for Oakdale Middle 
  5. Address all Safety Issues 
  6. Fund the Building Program 
  7. Expand CTE Programming 
  8. Expand Fine Arts Facilities 
  9. Finish all Current Programs
  10. Expand Preschool Programs