Northampton Public Schools Superintendent Blog

February 3, 2012 Weekly Musings

Posted on: February 6, 2012

Photo by africa

I would like to begin by thanking the extra efforts of Nathan Ziegler, Director of Special Education and Mark Prince, Director of Academic Effectiveness who have carved time out of their busy schedules to offer an administrative presence to Leeds Elementary while Principal Joseph Smith has been out enjoying time with his wife and new baby boy.  Mark and Nathan have both been available to guide and resolve a number of issues for students, parents, and staff.  In addition, Brandon Abbott, who serves as lead teacher has also been on-call daily for administrative support.  Joseph will return on Monday February 6th.

As our students are entering a new semester, I too, feel like we have turned the corner in our year and have a new direction for our efforts.  I feel the Entry Plan days are far behind us as we now focus on:  (1) building our new District Improvement Plan, (2) developing a draft budget for FY13, (3) preparing for our DESE audit to begin on Monday, (4) initiating a new and exciting technology plan, (5) learning about our new Educator Evaluation Tool/Process, and (6) engaging in our final mid-year evaluation goal meetings with our Administrative Leadership Team (ALT).  I’ll address each of these briefly.

Last Tuesday’s retreat allowed ALT and School Committee a 4 ½ hour opportunity to work together, to hear each others’ passions and ideas, and to strengthen relationships while building our District Improvement Plan. Annie Thompson, Clerk to the School Committee is working on typing up Draft I in a format that is easy to read and work with as we continue to refine and fine tune.  Our next steps are: to prioritize the goals with ALT, to share the information with School Councils who will also have the opportunity to voice their opinion on the priorities, and to bring this back in draft form to School Committee for the March meeting.

Following Thursday evening’s Budget and Policy meeting, Business Manager Mark McLaughlin and I have a bit of homework to develop the Draft FY13 Budget in the next two weeks.  I am excited to begin this process and to match our priorities with our budget dollars for next year.  We recognize we are building this budget without an accurate final dollar amount from the City, but we will make a good faith effort to build a reasonable budget with the understanding that changes will need to be made throughout the spring.  The following timeline was agreed:

We will have a draft budget ready by Feb. 17.
Principals and School Councils will discuss their budget priorities during their February meetings.
I will meet with
ALT to review the draft.
The Budget & Property subcommittee will meet to discuss the draft budget on Monday February 27th at
5:30 at JFK Principal’s Conference Room.
The joint School Councils/Budget & Property subcommittee meeting will be held on March 1 from
6:00-7:30 at JFK. There will be an introduction followed by a 10-minute presentation from each school.

Our DESE Auditors will arrive Monday February 6th and will be with us throughout the week.  They will engage in a series of interviews and workshops with their team, our teachers, administrative team, and so on to take an analytical look at our system, practices, and policies.  We all welcome this audit and look at it as a way to have a set of “critical friends” help us to improve. Unfortunately, it is my understanding that their results and report usually take one year or longer to produce.

Friday, Technology Director Bill Dornbusch coordinated a committee to work with a technology planning facilitator to draft our new technology plan. They worked at the high school from 9-3 and I am really looking forward to putting their energy and ideas to work immediately.

Friday afternoon, I attended the Connecticut Valley Superintendent’s Round Table event in Holyoke where we heard from the Lt. Governor and the Executive Director of M.A.S.S. The main topic was the new Educator Evaluation Tool/System.  The entire state is working on its implementation and the important information sharing and training that has to happen now in order for us to use it in September.  Mark Prince and I will discuss this in more detail at School Committee next Thursday.  Our ALT team had an introduction last week and our Union officials and teachers are also working on our committee.  NASE leadership is charged to assist us in the training of the teachers and to help draft an addendum to our Collective Bargaining Agreement prior to next September.

We are nearing the final ALT mid-year evaluation goals meetings.  These should be complete by the end of next week.  It is wonderful to sit down with each administrator one-on-one and hear the progress we are making in our schools.  The new initiatives and new School Improvement Plans are assisting us in measurable progress in student learning.  I’m excited to get to the end of the year so we can more accurately document our students’ progress.


Brian L. Salzer, Ed.S.


2 Responses to "February 3, 2012 Weekly Musings"

Thank you for taking the time to give us such a thorough report on all your initiatives. I am especially excited that you are prioritizing technology in the schools. While you work with the auditors, Karen and I are at a national conference for community coalitions working to reduce underage drinking. We’ll bring back as much as we can to Northampton. As our coalition reduces underage drinking and marijuana use, we expect to see improvements in academic performance. Glad we are working together.

With new/additional editorial capacity at the Department of Education, the report for the Northampton Public Schools Level 3 Review should be ready for review in the district in the spring.

Linda L. Greyser, Ed.D., Review Team Coordinator

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