Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hickman Mills Unveils First Draft of One-Year Blueprint

By Paul Thompson

The Hickman Mills C-1 school district has laid down a path towards full accreditation in 2014.

The C-1 administration unveiled eight priorities, complete with achievable goals, in the freshly minted one-year blueprint they presented to the Board of Education during a Tuesday, September 10 work session.

The district garnered just 51.8% of the possible points under the first year of MSIP 5, the state of Missouri’s updated standards for accreditation. The district would need to garner 70% of the points to earn fully accredited status. The one-year blueprint, and the action items within it, was designed to serve as a living document that could help keep
the district focused on obtaining their goals over the next year. The district blueprint will also serve as a guideline for developing subsequent plans at each of the district’s individual buildings.

“Once this blueprint is approved, then the buildings will be in charge of developing a system that mirrors that,” said C-1 superintendent Dr. Dennis Carpenter. “We’re trying to operate as a school system.”

The priorities outlined in the blueprint have been broken down into eight distinct categories, each with its own action items and goals. Among the eight priorities, the district has resolved to (1) ensure full accreditation, (2)
increase academic achievement, (3) improve student attendance, (4) improve faculty and staff attendance, (5) improve safety and discipline, (6) attract, retain, and ensure the professional development of highly qualified teachers and staff, committed to increased  student achievement and more effective teaching, (7) develop and coordinate capital improvement plans in the areas of facilities and technology that support continuous improvement,
and lastly, (8) to ensure the funding of priorities through an ongoing, coordinated approach to district budgeting.

Carpenter encouraged any feedback from the board during the presentation, with the hope that he and his staff could make the requisite adjustments to the blueprint in time to be approved at the Thursday, September 19 regular Board of Education work session. The board obliged, especially when the topic came to the district’s stated priority to ‘improve safety and discipline’ during the school year.

In the wake of a September 5 attack by a parent against a kindergarten teacher at Truman Elementary, board members displayed grave concerns about the safety practices used within the district. Board member Shawn
Kirkwood noted that in the previous few weeks, he had been able to get into various district buildings easily, without identifying himself as a member of the school board.

“I’m being let in the school blindly,” said Kirkwood. “On a day-by-day basis, the protocols aren’t being kept.”

One of the goals described within the safety portion of the one-year blueprint, presented by C-1 Executive Director of Operations Steven Meyers, revealed that the district had already planned to put together a Safety Committee headed by Director of Security Sgt. Russ Dykstra. Dykstra would work with administrators to raise safety awareness and develop new safety strategies. Meyers added that the committee’s first step would be to investigate “the processes of dealing with angry parents.”

 But board member Darrell Curls said that he wasn’t willing to wait for a committee to come up with an acceptable

“I want to know what we have done, and what we are doing immediately,” said Curls. “I want something brought to this board ASAP. We have to take care of our buildings and our people. If we don’t, shame on us, because somebody is going to be tremendously injured next time.”

Board member Breman Anderson Jr. expressed a similar sentiment.

“We’re all very concerned about situations that have taken place in the recent past, especially as it relates to last week,” said Anderson. “We have to have some type of plan that really encompasses the whole school in general.”

Superintendent Carpenter acknowledged that the issue was serious, but maintained that the district’s safety protocols
weren’t overlooked on the day of the incident.

“I will tell you on that particular afternoon, every protocol that we have was followed,” said Carpenter. “I just want you to know that this is serious business for us. On this particular day, there was no gap.”

Among some of the other stated district goals for the next year are to institute Mathematics and English Language Arts benchmarking, to begin taking part in Truancy Court, to increase retention of certified and non-certified staff by 3%, and to earn ten out of ten MSIP 5 district attendance points after earning zero in the first year of the MSIP 5 cycle.

“The way Missouri looks at (attendance) is minute by minute by minute,” explained Associate Superintendent
of School Improvement and Accountability Casey Klapmeyer. “Anytime they’re gone, those minutes accumulate. Our goal this year is 82% of our students at 90% attendance or better. That would get us to six status points, and in terms of what we would get in terms of progress, that will get us to ten out of ten.”

Although the blueprint is not expected to be finalized until the regular board session of September 19, board Vice President Dan Osman thanked the administration for their efforts in compiling the district’s priorities for the coming year.

“Thank you Dr. Carpenter, thank you administration, and thank you to staff for helping out with this,” said Osman. “This is the first time in two and a half years that I have seen measurable goals for the district.”

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