March Message to Community

March 31, 2016

Greetings to Parents, Students, and the PRSD Community,

I hope that all of our students and families enjoyed a restful, long weekend. We have already begun the fourth nine weeks! In our schools, specific attention is being given to the transition process for 2016 – 2017. The high school Program of Studies and course request/verification process is such an important component of student scheduling. At all other levels, our teachers and administrators are planning for the student transition between grades and buildings. There are so many things happening in PRSD – inside and outside of the classroom – for our students.

Strategy implementation is a major emphasis of the strategic planning process. Given the scope of our organization, it is difficult to ensure awareness of the many action plans and initiatives. Ms. Hathhorn, Director of Communications, led a process to develop a concise summary of the district plan and the progress-to-date. Please take some time to navigate the PRSD strategic plan website. This plan is built on a foundation of mission, vision, and values. It is organized into the five major categories. As you will continue to see, there are many linkages and connections between categories and initiatives. It is also important to know that the strategic plan is not completely written in concrete. On an annual basis, we will need to reflect on strengths and opportunities for improvement. We will need to monitor larger trends in the field.

One element of the plan relates to an annual parent survey with a series of questions about satisfaction and engagement. We expect this survey to be administered in the late spring. This survey is organized to gather information in the following major categories: overall experience; academic experiences; school culture; finance and operations; communications; and community response. It is our intention to administer this survey on an annual basis to help us monitor satisfaction and engagement over time.

There are many committees at work within the district. For example, a recommendation will be made shortly for new resources in English Language Arts (grades 7 – 9), Science (grades 3 – 8), and Social Studies (various grade levels and courses). This investment is important to the learning process and also part of the overall budget of the district. Dr. Pasquinelli has worked closely with department chairs, teacher representatives, and administrators to facilitate this process. Opportunities for parents and community members to view these resources have also been extended. It has also been discussed through Academic Achievement Committee meetings of the school board. The priority of these departments and grade levels emerged from the focus on curriculum development over the past couple years. Please look for more information on this topic from Ms. Hathhorn.

Information about the budget, budget process, and overall financial factors affecting the district is an important part of organizational performance. As a public school district, staffing-related costs comprise the largest portion of the budget. This is followed by the debt payments connected to new construction and renovation over the past couple decades. One goal of the strategic plan is to improve community understanding and engagement in the annual budget process to aid decision-making and consideration of potential tax increases. The next Finance Committee meeting is scheduled for April 25th at 6:00 p.m. in the DeWitt Blank Conference Room. The continued focus of this work is to consider a multi-year budget perspective that also considers strategies to address capital funding needs.

We have many other initiatives underway in the district. Examples include: emergency operations planning and training; demographic study with an outside company (i.e., enrollment projections); transportation routing; technology infrastructure at the middle school; technology end-user devices; gifted education; school counseling; Google Apps for Education; athletic facilities planning; and more. These areas of focus and continuous improvement are tied directly to strategic plan.

Thank you again for your support and engagement in the Pine-Richland School District.

Brian Miller