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Superintendent's Corner

posted Apr 15, 2014, 1:21 PM by website team   [ updated Apr 15, 2014, 1:21 PM ]

As we enter the month of April, the state assessment season is upon us.  You have probably not heard nearly as much about state assessments this year as in previous years.  In part, this is due to the fact that this 2014 state assessment is a transitional assessment.  The 2014 assessment begins to assess students over the common core standards.  The types of questions and format of questions is different than what has been used in the past.  The questions are more interactive and will not always involve a multiple choice style question.  As with any new system, technical difficulties exist.  While our initial testing runs have been free of substantial technical difficulties, the same cannot be said for schools across the state.  The system has had to be shut down on multiple occasions during the testing season.   The 2014 assessments will not be used when considering school accreditation, due to its “transitional” nature.  Discussions are ongoing at the state level as to whether the results will be released publically, as the validity of the assessments has been drawn into question with the repeated technical difficulties and interruptions to the testing environment.   

In a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, employers cite child-care issues as causing more problems than any other family-related issue in the workplace, with increases in absenteeism and tardiness reported in 9 out of 10 companies. Eighty percent of the companies surveyed said that work days were cut short because of child-care problems.  In USD #386, we have offered positions to individuals who have had to turn them down due to lack of available childcare.  On average USD #386 staff (collectively), miss 10 days a year due to their child’s daycare provider being ill or closed for some reason.  We spend $800 in substitute fees to cover these absences, but more importantly, that is 10 days (2 weeks) where those teachers and/or staff are out of the classroom and not providing instruction to our students.  Not all staff would utilize this option in terms of a childcare provider, but it would be available to them when their childcare provider was not open.  Based on surveys and feedback from staff, we are anticipating the daycare would serve 8-12 children.  The daycare would only be open during the school year.  The plan is for the district to reach an agreement with an independent contractor to staff the daycare.  In other words, the staff would pay the daycare provider directly.  They would not receive benefits or payment from USD #386.  The daycare would simply be housed in the elementary.  With advances in technology and the adoption of the 1:1 iPad initiative, the traditional computer lab is becoming obsolete.  While we do need to keep a few desktop computers for independent student use (in the classroom and in the library), the days of bringing the entire class to the computer lab are essentially gone.  Students now remain in their classroom and complete the same work on their iPad that they previously completed in the computer lab.  This allows us the option of utilizing the computer lab areas for a more efficient purpose.  With some minor changes (adding a sink, refrigerator and phone), the room which previously housed kindergarten students would serve as the daycare facility.  While this will require a change in location for future kindergarten classes, all PreK-6 students will be in a classroom of the same size.  We will budget $500-$1000 per year for various facility expenses for the daycare, but with the potential savings of $800 in substitute fees this really becomes a budget neutral initiative from year to year.  The potential exists in the future for high school students to assist in the daycare as part of the Family and Consumer Science Program.  They could receive college credit for their work and potentially earn industry certification in the area of childcare development.  We have visited with other schools in the state who house childcare facilities in their buildings.  The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. 

In summary, for what we feel will be very close to a budget neutral employee benefit, USD #386 will benefit in the following ways:

·         Increase the days that teachers are in the classroom with their students versus a substitute.

·         Improving employee morale, reducing turnover and absenteeism, and increasing productivity.

·         Attracting and retaining high quality staff

·         Offering students the ability to gain college credit, experience, and certification in the area of childcare development.

 

As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns. 

Have a good week and remember, “It’s A Great Day to Be a Bulldog!”

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website team,
Apr 15, 2014, 1:21 PM