By Susan Miller
Missouri Staff Writer
Four major initiatives will be undertaken by the Washington School District in the coming year and beyond.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer discussed the goals with the school board at its last work session.
The goals include implementation of the new Common Core State Standards, a national education initiative that seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform.
“Leadership and staff workshops are being held to prepare for transition to this rigorous curriculum,” VanLeer said, “and a professional learning plan and time line has been established to meet the needs of staff as they work to implement the standards.”
Additionally, communication strategies will be developed to educate students, staff, parents and the community throughout implementation of the curriculum, she said, as well as intervention strategies.
“An evaluation model also will be established to promote professional growth of teachers and leaders,” she said.
A second major goal is the formation of Focus Group 3: Improving Student Achievement and Engagement in the Technological Age. Two other focus groups on student achievement and facilities are already meeting.
“Teachers, staff and patrons are all being invited to participate in the new group,” VanLeer said.
An analysis of wireless infrastructure needs will be conducted, she explained, including 1 to 1 (student to computer) and other aspects of embedded technology in the everyday learning process.
The group also will research equipment needs, financial sustainability of any new technology, training and implementation, communication and evaluation.
Focus Group 3 will meet monthly starting in August. Subcommittees also will be formed and will meet to assist in the development of future technology plans.
Another major goal for the district is hiring and retaining high-quality staff, VanLeer said.
The administration will continue to study pay schedules, as well as instructional support and training to meet the needs of all staff.
VanLeer said it’s important to have a competitive benefit package that is “controlled, viable and proactive.”
Continued marketing of the school district and communication with the public in multiple ways also will be important with achieving this goal, she said.
“The fourth initiative being undertaken is ensuring safe and efficient 21st century learning environments for students,” VanLeer said.
This includes adequate capacity for classrooms and program instructional space through new construction and renovations, she said, with buildings technologically equipped to meet learner needs.
Proper maintenance of facilities is key, she added.
VanLeer said the district also needs to have facilities that meet standards of the Gateway Athletic Conference.