I am nearing my 90th day as superintendent of Manatee County Schools and even though the challenges are much greater than I envisioned, I wake up every day grateful for the opportunity to serve the children and families of this community.
Before school ended June 7, I visited all 51 of our traditional elementary, middle and high schools. At those visits I listened, learned and spoke with teachers, principals, staffs and I came away thoroughly impressed with our school teams and the passion they have in education. I firmly believe our schools provide a rock-solid foundation to build upon to restore our district to greatness.
I have also met with and examined our school support sites and departments, and I have come to believe the vast majority of problems facing our school district exist at the district level around how we provide support for our schools.
As the state Transition Team states on page 8 of its report, certain "pervasive issues" permeate the Manatee district, including:
"Absence of systems thinking has contributed to limited collaboration, resulting in a system of schools and departments rather than a school system."
"A lack of personal, corporate and organizational accountability."
"Conversation is not centered on the core business of the district; student achievement and teaching and learning."
The vision I unveiled this past Tuesday to several hundred school district principals, assistant principals and district administrators is designed to deal directly with those deficiencies as well as the other obstacles blocking this district from achieving greatness.
Far from being a strategy designed to micromanage individual schools, it is a plan to bring focus, alignment and ultimately accountability to all areas of the Manatee County School District.
The goal is to implement a district-wide educational performance management model to produce great outcomes around student achievement, which I refined based on Bob Paladino's "5 Key Principals of Corporate Management."
The five key principals I proposed include: Data, Strategic Planning, Alignment of Resources, Monitoring Execution and Performance, and Leveraging Technology in Instruction.
Data must be utilized with more competency at the district level, at the intermediate leadership level and even down to the school level by creating data teams within schools and training them so they can obtain data, manipulate it, package it, and get it to their leadership teams to make decisions around instruction.
Strategic Planning means making sure we have full alignment strategically from the district down to the school level. You do that by starting with a sound and capable district strategic plan, followed by an academic plan. The academic plan will contain strategies to deliver a framework of instruction in our classrooms focusing on higher order thinking skills.
Using those two source documents, executive directors will then draft strategic plans to meet the needs of their portfolio schools, and then schools will write five-year strategic plans that will serve as the source documents for their School Improvement Plans.
Alignment of Resources is needed because statistics show 67 percent of organizations fail to execute strategic plans because they don't align their resources and training to their strategic plans. We will make sure we align all of our district resources and budget dollars to our strategic plans so we know where every dollar is going and how it is serving the purpose of increasing student achievement.
Monitoring Execution and Performance involves putting systems and structures in place that monitor the strategic plans at every level so you know how well you are executing your plans. We will be vigilant in reviewing strategically how well we are doing in the execution of our plans, and how well we are doing in our data and metrics to make sure we are seeing the desired outcomes and results.
Leveraging Technology in Instruction is something in which the military excels. Although our school district has great technology capacity in our classrooms, we need to take it to the next level where we are actually using technology to create new tasks in how we are delivering instruction.
When we move to that level, technology will become the great turbo charger of creating greater outcomes and exponential results for our students.
Most importantly, you need to know these plans
are not written yet. I want your input, suggestions and support as we go through the process of implementing these strategies over the next year.
If you would like to know more, I strongly encourage you to watch the entire video of my presentation to our administrators.
You can find it on our school district's website at www.manateeschools.net.
I know the difficulties this school district has faced and our need to identify and publicly share those challenges.
Now I ask for you full attention, collaboration and support as we work together to move our school district to greatness.
I know we can do it. That's why I am thrilled to be here. "TOGETHER WE CAN"