Sunday, October 25, 2015

#USD116Engage

The mission of Urbana School District 116, a multi-cultural community committed to educational excellence, is to ensure that all learners acquire knowledge, develop skills, and build character to achieve personal greatness and help create a better global society, by providing innovative, comprehensive programs, respecting individual learning styles and cultural differences, and fostering caring and nurturing relationships, while engaging each student, every family and the entire community.

I am very excited to begin a new level of engagement with our school and larger community to help us update our Strategic Plan.  As you know, our Mission, Beliefs, and Parameters are strong powerful statements that have community and organizational support.  We want to preserve those elements of our current plan, and engage in a process that asks students, teachers, families, and the larger community to help us plan for the future. My hope is to increase participation while at the same time analyzing which issues, concerns, dreams, and aspirations are most widely shared.

Our current strategic plan served us very well. As we have evaluated the plan, we have determined that we accomplished about 75-80% of the action items. That doesn't mean that we reached 80% of our goals; however, my hope is that we keep reaching for the three broad objectives while we engage our USD116 families, students, employees, and community members in helping us set new targets for the future.

Our plan is to engage our USD116 staff, students, families, and community in a variety of ways. We will do road shows at staff meetings, visit with PTA groups, and hold district wide forums. As you know, we enjoy going out and literally going door to door if that helps with engagement.

We have been very impressed with a company called ThoughtExchange as a platform for engagement, analysis, and support. They have experience assisting large and small districts engage around issues of strategic planning, facilities planning, redistricting, referendums, and marketing. They also do what they call a 360º weather report about how the district is viewed by different sectors of the community. 

Later this week, we will be launching our first ThoughtExchange engagement.  Three open ended questions that ask about your thoughts about your school and your district.  Your responses will be anonymous, they will be reviewed, and they will be shared.  Please join the conversation.  Watch for an email from your building principal and me later this week.  If you don't receive an email directly, watch the district website and social media for ways of joining the conversation.

You are all aware how important it is to have a plan to guide us through uncertain times. Today, next year, and ten years from now are very uncertain. Now is the best time to engage in a strategic planning process to help us focus on the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of our local community.  Please join us as we launch #USD116Engage!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Report to the Board October 20, 2015

Superintendent’s Report to
Urbana School District #116
Board of Education
October 20, 2015


Board Meetings on YouTube


Remember that all Board Meetings are broadcast live on UPTV, Channel 6. They are also posted on the USD116 YouTube Channel within a few days of the meeting.


The Future of Virtual Field Trips: Google Expeditions


Today, I had the opportunity to experience Google Expeditions using Google Cardboard.  Actually, I  just wanted to write that sentence.  Google Expeditions is an app (Apple and Android) based virtual field trip that I can only describe as a 3D Stereoscope or a View Master.  The teacher and student interface is very interactive, and the result is the feeling of being able to walk through a spherical picture of whatever place in the universe you choose (and has Expeditions content).  This would be a great idea for a CUSF Grant Application!


Strategic Planning Re-envisioning Starting Soon


I want to outline my vision for the strategic planning process and rationale.  As you know, our Mission, Beliefs, and Parameters are strong powerful statements that have community and organizational support.  I want to preserve those elements of our current plan but engage in a process that asks students, teachers, families, and the larger community to help us plan for the future.  My hope is to increase participation while at the same time analyzing which issues, concerns, dreams, and aspirations are most widely shared.  

Our current plan served us very well.  As we have evaluated the plan, we have determined that we accomplished about 75-80% of the action items.  That doesn't mean that we reached 80% of our goals; however, my hope is that we keep reaching for the three broad objectives while we engage our USD116 families, employees, and community members in helping us set new targets for the future.  I have attached a basic presentation that reviews the main parts of our current Strategic Plan.  
My plan is to engage our USD116 staff, students, families, and community in a variety of ways.  We will do road shows at staff meetings, visit with PTA groups, and hold district wide forums.  As you know, we enjoy going out and literally going door to door if that helps with engagement.  

We have been very impressed with a company called ThoughtExchange as a platform for engagement, analysis, and support.  They have experience assisting large and small districts engage around issues of strategic planning, facilities planning, redistricting, referendums, and marketing.  They also do what they call a 360º weather report about how the district is viewed by different sectors of the community. ThoughtExchange is an option that can be tailored to our needs and customized to help us discover answers to specific topics.  They also will help us continually evaluate our work be engaging our stakeholders in annual weather reports.  

You are all aware how important it is to have a plan to guide us through uncertain times.  Today, next year, and ten years from now are very uncertain.  Now is the best time to engage in a strategic planning process to help us focus on the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of our local community.


Urbana Crossing Guard and Substitute Crossing Guard Positions - City Seeking Applicants

Urbana School District #116 has been working closely with the City of Urbana and the Urbana Police Department to ensure the safety of school crossings.  Through our partnership, the City of Urbana employs nine crossing guards across the city.

This school year, the City has not been able to fill all nine positions.  They are also planning to hire several substitute crossing guards.  I am attaching a Job Announcement that describes the crossing guard and substitute crossing guard positions, hours, and compensation.  If you are interested, or know someone who is interested, please apply online at: www.urbanaillinois.us/jobs

Thank you for helping us ensure safe routes to schools.  Please remember to drive slowly and alertly through school zones and other areas of town when students are walking or riding bikes to and from school.  For more information about our safe routes to schools, please visit the district web page: http://www.usd116.org/schools/c-u-safe-routes-to-school/

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Report to the Board - October 6, 2015

Superintendent’s Report to
Urbana School District #116
Board of Education
October 6, 2015

Board Meetings on YouTube

Remember that all Board Meetings are broadcast live on UPTV, Channel 6. They are also posted on the USD116 YouTube Channel within a few days of the meeting.

Barbara Linder Announced her Retirement effective June 2016

Barbara Linder, District Coordinator of Mentoring, addressed the Board of Education tonight and announced that this would be her last year.  She discussed her experiences as a parent volunteer in 1991 and how that experienced grew into a full time position that coordinates over 1000 tutors, parent volunteers, and CU One to One Mentors.  During the next month, we will be be holding focus groups to help set the vision for what we are looking for in the next district coordinator.  I know I speak for the entire Urbana community when I say that Barbara has transformed the culture of this district and this community.  Thank you Barbara!

Walk and Roll to School Day is Tomorrow (Wednesday, October 7, 2015)

All USD116 Elementary Schools are participating in the National Walk and Roll to School Day tomorrow.  We want to emphasize the importance of traveling safely to school.  A listing of our “Safe Routes to Schools” can be found on the district website:  http://www.usd116.org/schools/c-u-safe-routes-to-school/

Dr. Tony Smith, IL State Superintendent

Last week, I had the privilege of attending Dr. Tony Smith’s presentation at the IASA Conference in Springfield.  He outlined his areas of focus for the 2015-2016 school year:
  • Finance reform: “We need to address the most regressive and inequitable funding formula in the country.”
  • Quality: His is committed to utilizing the talent and resources of IL to create the strongest school system in the country.
  • Autonomy: Dr. Smith stressed that local districts and boards of education know how to best address the needs of their students and families.
  • Competency:  Dr. Smith is committed to moving past “seat time” requirements for graduation and moving toward a mastery based model of advancement.
  • Community:  “A healthy public system organized around schools is the cornerstone of healthy communities.”

UHS and Urbana Alumni Association Homecoming Activities

This week is Homecoming Week at UHS.  The parade will take place on Friday at 3PM, followed by the Tail Grate on the UHS Practice Fields.  The football game starts at 7PM against Peoria Notre Dame High School.  At halftime, the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees will be honored, including: Mykhail Chambers (2008); Mandy Kirby (2008); Shannon McFarland (2005); Daniel Wingler (2001); and “Tiger for Life” recipients, John Dimit and Dr. Preston L. Williams, Jr.

After the game, the Urbana Alumni Association will be holding their Homecoming Celebration at Lincoln Square Mall.  There will be music, raffles, and auctions.  All proceeds will be directed to the Wall of Fame Project honoring the accomplishments of UHS graduates.  If you would like to buy tickets or learn more about the event, please visit: http://www.urbana-alumni.com

Celebrations

Congratulations to Rusty Clevenger, Elementary Fine Arts Teacher, for receiving the 2015 Teacher Ace Award from 40 North - Champaign County Arts Council.  He will be presented with the award at a reception on Friday, October 9.

Congratulations to UHS Seniors, John Dandria, Rebecca Hanks, Jared Hatcher, and Eamon Kuo for being recognized as Commended Students in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Congratulations to UHS Seniors, Henry Ando, Fiona Munro, and Marshall Schriner for being recognized as National Merit Semi Finalists by the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Please check out tomorrow’s News-Gazette for the #TeacheroftheWeek, Karla Schroeder, Kindergarten Teacher at Wiley Elementary School!  Congratulations Karla!