Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Countdown. Reflecting on successes, challenges, and looking ahead

So, let's be honest -- parents, staff, students -- we've all started some type of countdown at this point. The magic number - 10 - hits tomorrow. 10, 9, 8...

In so many ways it seems like we just got started. In other ways, August seems like a long time ago.

I just decided that it was time to drop another blog, with a little bit of reflection on this school year - successes, challenges, and looking ahead.

There have been great accomplishments that many of our students throughout the district have experienced this year. We have had numerous examples of students succeeding at the highest levels in academics, athletics, fine arts, and many other activities. In this time where we often read in the news about the struggles of young people, it is refreshing to read about the many successes of our students, provided by Jim Elert, communications coordinaor, each Friday. If you haven't signed up for E-News, please do so.

These student successes would not be possible without the support provided by staff, as well as their commitment to making this a world-class learning community each day. In fact, like our students, we have staff who have been recognized for their efforts by highly respected experts in the field, as well as state and national organizations.

It's also been a difficult time. Like other school districts, businesses, and families, we have limited resources with which to meet the many needs of our students and community. We are doing our best to identify creative, innovative means to effectively and efficiently align our resources around improving student learning, while at the same time arriving at decisions that position the district to make effective student-centered decisions in the future.

Earlier I referenced the successes of our students and staff. This is why making the decisions that lead to a balanced budget have been so difficult. We have had to let go of quality people throughout our district. This is a people business, with nearly 80% of our expenditures being staff. Inevitably, this is why I and other decision-makers have sleepless nights. There is nothing worse than budget decisions that affect people. We value and care about our staff. I wish we didn’t have to let any of them go due to budget modifications.

There are also questions when we are going through challenging times. It is important to provide transparency in our planning. Jim has provided updates each week throughout the spring, not only about the successes of students and staff, but also the planning going on in the district. If you've missed them you can find them on our website.

I won't ever promise perfect communication, but I'll promise that we'll always do the best we can. I encourage you to ask questions when you have them - of me, school principals, program directors... If you hear something you're not sure about, just ask.

Looking Ahead
Collectively, the staff of the Spring Lake Park Schools has an awesome responsibility – preparing nearly 5,000 kids for their future. Despite the the financial challenges we face, each of our students, and their parents, want and expect a school of excellence. They count on us to do all we possibly can to open up the world to them, and prepare them to have as many opportunities in their future as possible.

As we wind down on this year I'm confident this next year will be another great year. I'm also confident we will be presented with both challenges and opportunities. The key to responding to these challenges, I believe, will be aligning our collective efforts (staff, parents, and community members) around our kids. This is what leads to our schools being the world-class learning communities they are.

Have a great day!


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