Duluth Public Schools Superintendent John Magas laid out his first 100-day plan during a School Board meeting Tuesday.
The plan was broken down into three phases. The first phase, which Magas said has been completed, focused on initial relationship-building with people in the district and community by listening and learning as much as possible.
Magas said he also spent time reviewing the financial data of the district and hired two key leadership positions at the district administration level.
Phase two will focus on academic excellence, equity, cohesive leadership teams and continuous improvement. This phase includes planning for the 2020-21 school year within the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re focusing on maximizing learning for each student, especially given the COVID closure,” Magas said. “We’ve put together cross-functional planning teams to develop feasible, engaging learning plans for the different models that are before us.”
Districts across the state were asked by the Minnesota Department of Education to plan for three different scenarios: in-person instruction, distance learning or a hybrid model. The Department of Education is expected to announce next week which scenario schools will use in the fall.
Magas said the district’s experience with distance learning in the spring left it with many lessons for improvement, if that model were used moving forward. Magas’ plan also addresses professional development for staff members and teachers.
“That is something that I heard from people that they are thirsty for,” Magas said. “They want to make sure they have the skills and professional learning to ensure that they are successful in serving all kids.”
As part of phase two of his 100-day plan, Magas will also be looking at the district’s education equity framework as well as implementation of accountability planning. Magas said his plan will also include doing a complete analysis of district policies, procedures and practices, using the results to create a prioritized revision plan.
“So we’ll be bringing policies to (the board) throughout the year that we’ve identified as not serving students well or not contributing to equity,” Magas said. “We also want to make sure that we're conducting a review of our district behavioral practices to make sure that we are implementing best practices throughout the district, and we plan to launch dialogue sessions with high school student groups to discuss issues of equity race and power.”
Phase three would be planning for ongoing long-term work and analyzing lessons learned in phase two to inform next steps, such as creating a five-year strategic plan to begin in the 2021-22 school year.
“It is a really ambitious plan, there's a lot a lot to it and there's a lot that we're looking at doing within the first hundred days, but given the current realities with the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the financial implications of the crisis, we might have to adjust as we prioritize students, staff, safety and learning needs to some of the steps within this plan,” Magas said.