NORFOLK - Norwood-Norfolk Central Schools new superintendent has set five goals for himself and school administrators to tackle during the 2013-14 years.
Its basically implementation plans for the many state initiatives. In order to effectively do it with fidelity, we need a plan, said James M. Cruikshank, who took over as superintendent on July 1, replacing the retiring Elizabeth A. Kirnie.
The goals are still in draft mode, but Mr. Cruikshank said he will be asking the board of education to adopt them during their September meeting and then they can begin working on them.
I havent had any negative feedback. Theyre organized with the mind frame of getting work done. I tried to create a system we feel will help us get from Point A to Point Z in the most efficient manner, he said.
Along the way, he said, he and board of education members will be able to monitor the progress of each goal.
One of the goals, Mr. Cruikshank said, is to promote the continual improvement of instructional program to raise the quality of educational services and student achievement. This is probably our largest goal. It gets into the new Common Core Learning Standards. It also gets into data-driven instructional practices, he said.
Those areas are among the initiatives in Race to the Top, a U.S. Department of Education contest created to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education, he said.
As part of that goal, Mr. Cruikshank said theyll be looking at ways to improve the performance of students with disabilities.
We have to have an open mind frame with students with disabilities. We have to reach them, he said.
That goal also includes using technology to enhance instruction. In addition, it addresses the graduation rates of students in poverty.
Weve made great gains in that area in the last couple of years. But the state reporting mechanism on this is two years behind, so were still getting deficiency marks on this even though its been corrected, Mr. Cruikshank said.
Their second goal is to develop a plan to provide the highest level of programs and services within the parameters of limited fiscal resources, he said.
This gets into basically transparency in our budget process, getting to the community so they understand what this is all about, the superintendent said.
That goal also involves looking at high-cost programs to determine if they need to be provided.
Were going to take a good, serious look at how we spend our money. Thats a big goal. Its kind of a behind-the-scenes goal, but we need to be as transparent as possible, Mr. Cruikshank said.
Another goal he and the administrators have set is to provide a safe, healthy and positive learning environment.
Mr. Cruikshank said the Dignity for All Students Act has additional components now that specifically address cyber issues with computers.
The Dignity Act seeks to provide the states public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.
The other prong to this goal is basically the potential for a capital improvement project to deal with health and safety and security. We need to provide a safe environment and a healthy environment for ours kids when were dealing with buildings that are 50 or 60 years old, Mr. Cruikshank said.
Negotiating fair, equitable and responsible employee contracts is also one of the goals for the year. The districts contract with the Norwood-Norfolk Teachers Association ended in June.
We need to be fair to both our employees and our community. Thats a goal I really feel we need to have so people know we want to be responsible, yet fair to our employees, he said.
Mr. Cruikshank said his final goal is to encourage clear communication among all constituent groups.
This is a theme Ive heard. This is not unusual or set aside just for Norwood-Norfolk. Its kind of system-wide, he said. In previous groups that was a deficiency and we had to work hard at this. Now Im hearing we need to increase the level of communication at every level. It needs to be a goal.
The goals will be monitored throughout the year by administration and the board of education.
Its all the things that we have to do. Im trying to provide a way that we can keep on track without losing our sanity. This is so the board can keep me accountable and I can in turn keep administrators accountable and they in turn teachers. The teachers and principals know the direction the board and I are going to be going, he said.