Adams-Cheshire Superintendent Sets Goals For Next Year

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Gordon has put forth four specific goals for the School Committee to evaluate her performance, but that is only part of her overall plans.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — The new superintendent has put forth four goals for which the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee can judge her.

Superintendent Kristen Gordon met with the evaluation subcommittee Monday to discuss how the committee will evaluate her performance in a new state rubric. She has identified four goals to accomplish — creating a new strategic plan, improving administrative meetings and communication, implementing new ways to judge teacher performance and furthering the progress of Race to the Top.

Updating teacher evaluations is already a state mandate as well as a part of the federal Race to the Top reforms but the district is behind. The state released an evaluation system that schools could adopt or adapt, or create their own with any changes being approved by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Race to the Top wanted those to be implemented in 2012 but negotiations with the teachers' union has delayed that. Gordon says she expects the new system to be implemented in September 2013.

"We're in the process of negotiating the new teacher evaluation system right now," Gordon said during an interview on Tuesday morning. "It is more about accountability, student achievement and it is not so subjective."

A major change is the frequency and number of visits administrators make to classrooms. Gordon said currently the contract does not allow administrators to make unannounced observation visits and the new system would include some number of those as well as 10-minute walkthroughs to assess the classroom.

A task force of administrators, teachers, union representatives and the School Committee is picking through the document to reach an agreement.

Meanwhile, Gordon said she is beginning the process of updating the school's five-year strategic plan to direct the future of the district by identifying goals and paths to reach them. The plan that was crafted by school officials, staff and community members at a retreat five years ago  expires in September.

"I want it to be a direction. I want it to be measurable," Gordon said.

The plan will help "get everyone on the same page," Gordon said, and will again include input from the community, staff, students and administrators. The school is currently generating a survey for students, then will gather input from staff, parents, and the community. Then there will either be a series of meetings or another retreat to craft the actual planning document.

"We can stay the same or we can get better. This is one way to get better," she said.

Additionally, with new administrators at both C.T. Plunkett Elementary School and Hoosac Valley Middle and High School, Gordon has begun to revamp the administrator meetings. The principals and vice principals meet weekly but instead of just reporting on what is happening at their schools, Gordon has begun to incorporate more research about how to improve various aspects of operations.

"We didn't study things together. We didn't research together. We didn't hold each other accountable," Gordon said.

Reading "realtime" articles about issues facing other schools in the state, Gordon hopes the administrators can take away tactics to improve their school. The discussion will also put the school leaders "on the same page" with where the district is going.

Gordon also says she will continue the school's Race to the Top efforts. The school is in its second year of the federal program that provides funding for schools to make strides toward a variety of goals. The school has been using the money to align the curriculum with new state common core frameworks, to create a "plan for college" program for high school students, to update both teacher and student evaluations, and to re-do the report cards and improve school climate.

"Its been really beneficial for us," Gordon said.

But while those four are the specific goals the School Committee will be judging, Gordon says she has a lot of other goals that do not fall into the state rubric.

Gordon is hoping to bring the school further into the community, launch an effort to retain students who otherwise opt out, increase computer lab time for elementary school students, meet with Police and Fire departments to re-examine their school safety plans, continue anti-bullying efforts, set a maintenance plan and increase professional development days.

The former Plunkett principal is in her first year as superintendent after taking over in November for Alfred Skrocki, who retired.

Tags: ACRSD,   school program,   superintendent,   

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