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Schools column: 'Think Kids' spells out priorities

It's been almost a year since I first talked about the need for a community conversation about Duluth Public Schools and about six months since we launched the Think Kids initiative, providing opportunities for citizens across Duluth to talk abou...

Bill Gronseth
Duluth schools Superintendent Bill Gronseth

It's been almost a year since I first talked about the need for a community conversation about Duluth Public Schools and about six months since we launched the Think Kids initiative, providing opportunities for citizens across Duluth to talk about the past, present and future of our schools, to share what is valued in education and to identify common beliefs about what students and the community as a whole should gain from our schools.

The conversations were candid, straightforward and ultimately grounded in a desire to see Duluth's schools and students be successful. The result is a set of guiding principles that will impact our district, schools and classrooms for years to come.

To realize the community vision identified through Think Kids, I've worked with people inside and outside our schools on a continuous improvement plan that includes specific goals for the next four years.

Each goal includes baseline data with targets to be reached by the end of the 2016-17 school year; progress will be shared through an annual report to the community. The goals are not meant to be inclusive of everything we do, but rather to focus efforts on the priorities identified through Think Kids.

Details are available at www.isd709.org .

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Briefly, the goals are associated with three aims: High Achievement for All, Safe and Welcoming Environments, and Efficient and Effective Systems.

High Achievement for All

  • Increase student achievement, reduce the achievement gap, and raise graduation rates
  • Continually improve and enhance the quality of our curriculum and align it to state standards
  • Provide high-quality staff development that aligns with our goal to provide opportunities for students of every culture and ability to be successful
  • Improve and enhance program offerings before and after school

Safe and Welcoming Environments for everyone in our schools

  • Decrease bullying among students
  • Reduce use and disproportionality in the use of Out-of-School Suspension (OSS) as a discipline consequence. The percentage of students involved in OSS will be consistent with district student demographics.
  • Increase safety and decrease injuries of students and staff
  • Increase family and community involvement, engagement and satisfaction, and deepen our community partnerships

Effective, Efficient Systems that make the best use of resources

  • Prioritize general fund spending to instruction and support of students
  • Improve communication, cooperation, and teamwork within and across employee groups
  • Increase the diversity of staff through culturally competent recruitment and retention practices. The percentage of staff of color will reflect the percentage of people of color in our community
  • Expand and improve community use of facilities that supports the needs of families and the greater community

Everyone in the district -- no matter their position -- will work towards the achievement of these goals. But we can't do it alone. It will take the entire community to realize the vision we have created.
Together, we can build stronger schools, a stronger community,

and with it, a stronger future.

Bill Gronseth is the superintendent of Duluth Public Schools. Contact him at (218)336-8752 or email william.gronseth@duluth.k12.mn.us .

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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