The Groton Dunstable Regional School District current has no adopted a strategic plan and according to superintendent, Dr. Kristan Rodriguez, “We had more of a maintenance plan than a capital plan”.

When asked about how the five-year strategic plan was developed, Dr. Kristan Rodriguez states that “Our work is guided by the book, Strategy in Action: How School Systems Can Support Powerful Learning and Teaching by Rachel E. Curtis and Elizabeth A. City”. The composition and timeline were defined at a school committee workshop.

Dr. Kristan Rodriguez developed an entry plan so that she could learn about the school district, introduce herself to the community and establish a basis for future leadership.  A summary and the goal of this entry plan can be found at http://www.gdrsd.org/files/user/1/file/KR-Entry%20Plan-GDRSD.pdf

This entry plan included but was not limited to the review of relevant documents and data, visits within the district and in both towns, conversations with individuals and groups within the district and a review of the current mission and culture.  The entry work ran began in June 2014.

The makeup of the strategy committee was determined by the school committee during a school committee workshop along with the definition of tasks for both the strategy committee and the leadership team.

Current Strategy Committee Members Include:
Alison Manugian, School Committee
Leslie Lathrop, School Committee
Ellen Potter, Elementary Staff
Kelly Cook, Secondary Staff
Liz Garden, Flo Ro Principal
Amy Lovell Kelly, Groton Parent
Karen Locker, Dunstable Parent
Danny Devlin, Dunstable Board of Selectman
Mark Haddad, Groton Town Manager
Peter Cronin, Strategy Expert (recent addition)
Katie Novak, Assistant Superintendent
Kristan Rodriguez, Superintendent

The strategy committee helped review the data that was articulated in the report. The data for this report was reviewed and vetted by the strategy committee and the report of entry findings was shared in January 2015.  It was distributed widely and later presented at a SC meeting.  The result of this work can be viewed in the entry report findings at http://www.gdrsd.org/files/user/1/file/Entry%20Plan%20Final(1).pdf

After the themes and identified areas for improvement were identified, working groups (led by strategy subcommittee members) were established to do root cause analysis and engage in the logic model. This work was conducted between winter 2015 and spring 2015. This work was reviewed by the greater stakeholder groups. Dr. Kristan Rodriguez stated, “An example of these groups were all teachers validating potential root causes at faculty meetings during spring 2015 for the curriculum areas”.  Details on the root cause work can be found at http://www.gdrsd.org/files/user/17/file/Strategy%20In%20Action-Check%20In.pdf

At a recent school committee workshop, the school committee decided to set up a meeting to review the next steps in this process.

The entire SC approved the National High School Journalism Conference Field trip as it was a third-party field trip in which there was insurance coverage.

Jon Sjoberg and Jennifer McKenzie were not able to attend tonight’s meeting.

Jon Strauss provided the SC with some preliminary info on the re-surfacing plan for the MS track. Leslie Lathrop voiced concern about the track being used for summer programs and if the re-surfacing would interfere with those programs.  Jon Strauss confirmed that the summer track program was being held at GDHS not at the MS track at this time so that would not be an issue.  A full proposal will be provided at a later date.   The track is in rough shape which can result in injury, resurfacing this track is a great idea and is well overdue.  Peter Cronin asked Jon Strauss “Are there any other fields or facilities that are in need of repair because I anecdotal heard that the athletic fields are in need of repair as well.”   It seemed that the athletic director would probably be the best person to comment on that as Jon Strauss came to discuss the track at this time.  Superintendent Kristan Rodriguez mentioned that there has been hope that additional recreational surfaces be repaired through a future capital plan. I have heard that there were some athletic teams that refuse to play Groton on our fields because of our poor field conditions. I would hope that our town as a whole would take pride in our fields and appropriate funds to maintain and repair these recreational surfaces for the community. 

SC approved a stipend to be paid to Russ Hoyt for taking on the Director of Pupil Personnel Services on a temporary basis while he still is the active Director of Early Childhood Learning Center at Boutwell. The total amount of this stipend was $1950.96 for the month of June. The Stipend is the difference in pay on a prorate basis between the salary of his position as Director of Early Childhood Learning Center at Boutwell and the Director of Pupil Personnel Services position he is temporary holding.  Although Russ Hoyt had stepped forward to help the district fill this temporary need; he has expressed that he prefers not to fill the position permanently if that need is determined as he enjoys his position as the Director of Early Childhood Learning Center at Boutwell.  I am personally interested in this situation and hope to get some clarity on who is going to hold this position in the up coming school year. 

SC voted to establish a Regional Transportation Reimbursement Fund which was recommended by the Budget & Finance Subcommittee. This fund will not hold a substantial amount of funds as its recommended use would be to help off set the cost of chapter 71.

SC voted to approve the Memorandum of Agreement Unit A.  Unit A (teachers) ~ includes all certified teachers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, computer instructors, salaried occupational therapists, adjustment counselors, English language learner (ELL) instructors, and school nurses, but excluding:
1. Superintendent of Schools
2. Principals and Assistant Principals
3. Director of Pupil Personnel Services
4. Substitute Teachers
5. All managerial employees of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School
District
6. All other employees of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District

SC voted to assign the six community members to the Public Communications & Community Engagement Advisory Committee.  Those members are:

Sarah Campbell (Groton)
Marlena Gilbert (Groton)
Malham Hamami (Dunstable)
Russ Harris (Groton)
Christine Muir (Dunstable)
David Sciuto (Dunstable)

A diverse group of folks that bring a variety of skills to the committee. I am excited to get to work with these folks so we can increasing transparency, community engagement and communication between the SC and the community. 

The public meeting adjourned and the SC went into executive session roughly around 8:20pm.

 

“There were a couple of articles that made it seem like we were not looking for help, but that is not the case” said GDEF President, Kerri Figueroa as she opened the Groton Dunstable Education Foundation, Inc. annual meeting.

Due to the fact that there is not much time to get plans in motion for next year without additional volunteers, a contingency plan has been put in place for next year. This plan is to not to do events and to have one last final grant cycle. The deadline for grants would be December 31, 2015. This will allow GDEF to give out the funds they raised this year through their annual giving campaign during that time frame.  “That is the contingency plan, hoping we don’t have to do that, but in order to do more we would need to get some help in terms of volunteers on our board”, said Kerri Figueroa.

Kerri Figueroa has stepped down from President of GDEF and Bea Alice Loos has stepped forward to fill that position. Bea Alice Loos was the Grants Director. Kerri Figueroa originally joined as a Teaching Star liaison to Boutwell (volunteer) in 2004, joined the board of Directors as Secretary in 2005-6, then became Co-President for one year 2006-7, then president for the last 8 years – 2007-present.

Janet Sheffield, Director of Community Relations and Lorrie Morgan, Treasurer both are staying on to mentor volunteers. Janet joined the board in Fall of 2004; Lorrie joined the board in early Summer 2005. The Director of Fundraising position is vacant.  The current plan is that mentors will stay on for the upcoming academic year to transition new volunteers and then step down.  The mentoring may be fulfilled “behind the scenes” if new Directors are determined in certain areas. For example, Kerri Figueroa has officially stepped off the board, but will be working closely with Bea Alice and hopefully a new co-president.

The GDEF exceeded their goal by generating a record-breaking $35,470 in revenue this year.

In collaboration with NHS students and the Main Street Cafe, GDEF held a successful Trivia Night in March 2015.

The GDEF awarded 29 Grants totaling $45,945 within rolling mini grants and spring grant cycles. More than half of the awarded grant money went to the Groton-Dunstable Middle school, awarded a total of 15 grants.

Ten math teachers had the opportunity to learn cutting-edge curriculum ideas and teaching strategies to incorporate into their classroom practice through a grant awarded to attend an annual National Associations of Teachers of Mathematics meeting in Boston. “I was told that as a result they are coming up with a new math curriculum in the middle school and in the elementary”, said Caitlin O’Brien, Director of Grants Disbursement.  Yes folks the new math curriculum referenced here is Eureka Math and will be a great benefit to our kids. Thank you GDEF!  

“Many hands make for lighter work”, said Kerri Figeroa. Although several people have expressed interest in helping GDEF continue its work in supporting our district schools through enrichment grants, there is still a critical need for volunteers in key areas that need to be filled in order for this work to continue

If you can help in any way, please contact the GDEF via email at info@gdef.org so they can continue their work in our school district.

At the SC public workshop meeting held on June 15th, all school committee members individually acknowledged the enormous amount of work that has already been done by the superintendent, strategy committee, subcommittees and teachers to develop the five-year strategic plan.

All school committee members also expressed concern that there are still many community members that do not feel like they had opportunity to participate in the process and that there is additional research to be gathered.

Leslie Lathrop was not able to attend the meeting.

Superintendent, Dr. Kristan Rodriguez suggested to the school committee that they show the community what work has been done thus far with a summary of the strategic plan and ask for public feedback of that document.  Funding has already been set aside for the Barometer so sending this summary and allowing the community to participate in an additional survey will not have a negative financial impact on the district.  The mass mailing could provide the community the ability to provide feedback on the work that has been done so that it may be utilized to solidify that the current plan truly does represents the community vision or if the strategic plan requires some adjustment so that it better aligns with a broader community vision.

Peter Cronin had a broader process question that relates to the strategy development. “I believe there are inputs into the imagining process of vision creation that I didn’t see in here, but I think they are really important”, said Peter Cronin. A couple of those inputs is a comprehension review of the state of the district today, not just on a performance basis, but also the history spending levels, additional cuts that have occurred over the last ten years and comprehensive data on class sizes with teacher/student ratio.  Alison Manugian added “I think there are a lot of people in the community who don’t realize what our schools look like now compared to ten years ago”.

“Where we have been, is where we have been, but let’s compare ourselves to where everyone is today, find the best in class for athletics, best in class for arts, best in class and how do we pair up along there”, says Jon Sjoberg. Peter Cronin agreed with Jon Sjoberg, but made note that the comparison should take place after we have the comprehension review of the current state of the district.

Jennifer McKenzie commented, “I would say to put some more energy in the upfront work, and maybe that data is there and I have not seen it, or maybe it wasn’t in the report.  But I think presenting that data to not just to us but the community, and convincing them that this is the key of where we want to go.  It is worth the time, it is worth the investment of resources and it is really big deal”.  I did an independent survey and found that 80% of the 110 community participants do not feel that they had an adequate opportunity to participate in our schools strategic plan. 

Superintendent, Dr Kristan Rodriguez is willing to do the new scope of work that is now being discussed by the school committee but also expressed the need for the school committee to provide a time line in which they expect the work to be complete so the community and the multi-board can be informed accordingly.

After 3.5 hours of constructive debate, the school committee agreed that the discussion would continue at a later date. The meeting was adjourned at 10:30pm.

The school committee will be scheduling another public school committee workshop to allow further discussion on the development of the five-year strategic plan for sometime next week.  Once determined the meeting time/date will be posted for the public.