Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kimball Administration does away with "The August Institute" - Changing culture

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In the August 6 School Board Meeting, Superintendent Kimball announced the "August Institute" was dead.  He jokingly said, anyone saying the words "August Institute" would have to pay $5.00. The Administration and School Board also did away with the thirty-year old District LOGO.  This appears the beginning of a sea change in LWSD culture.

Prior Superintendent Don Saul was a big believer in the Institute.  According to LWSD Communications Director, Kathryn Reith, "the Institute represented the kick-off to the new school year with the intention of   professional development of the district's leadership team".  It occurred two-three weeks prior to the opening of school.    

Ms. Reith wrote:   "The drawback of August Institute was that it could take up to two weeks worth of time just when principals needed time in their building to plan and prepare for the year and hire teachers if needed. Operations staff members were busy preparing school buildings, materials and systems for the return of teachers and other staff."   In short, the Institute interfered with operations. 

Superintendent Kimball said rather than "cram a bunch of information in their heads" in two weeks of August to remember in November, it's better to develop and train the administrators over time throughout the year.

Kimball was pleased to tell the Board and public that 85% of the District's elementary school teachers took summer math training even though it was optional.  He said this kind of commitment was "unheard of".   Read More
Another event of culture-change was the noticeable and welcome increase of staff presentations to the School Board.   John Vaille (Technology Chief), Traci Pierce, (School Support Staff Chief), Janene Fogard, Deputy Superintendent, Kathryn Reith, (Communications Director) and  Barbara Posthumus (Business Services Coordinator) all gave Board presentations.  The Board listened intently.

Traci Pierce, Director of School Support, reported the District"s eleven new administrators received two days of training in August.  She said it was nice not to have to process August Institute development while training these administrators.   The Board asked John Vaille to come back and present again.

Finally, the School Board's practices are changing.  For the first time they've held two meetings in August.  They are working harder.  Ravi Shahani "pulled" an item from the Consent Agenda.  Parliamentary process is improving.  Board Chair Pendergrass explained her meeting times and types of public meetings & sessions.

Reported By Bob Yoder
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