St. Clair County Schools Striving for Excellence

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Have you ever watched an ant mound busy at work?  Through the racing around, carrying crumbs, and constant challenges, those ants work together to get the job done.  Well, school districts can be compared to that ant mound.  District leaders are racing around, dealing with the resource crumbs they  are dealt, and battling through the constant challenges that face schools on a daily basis.

At a time when negative press about finances and schools is rampant, St. Clair County School System is using this time to celebrate excellence and work together for continuous improvement at all levels.  The district is seeking District Accreditation.  Just as you were the observer over the ant mound, imagine that the external review team coming to the district will make those same kinds of observations while taking notes and providing an exit report to help the district continually improve. 

What does this mean for the district?  District leaders engaged in AdvancED District Accreditation will take stock in themselves in relation to a set of research based quality standards; establish a vision, assess their current reality, implement an improvement plan, monitor progress and evaluate results; and enhance best thinking with the insights and perspectives of an external review team.

This is a three step process:

  1. District completes a rigorous self-assessment based on the seven standards
    i. Vision and Purpose
    ii. Governance and Leadership
    iii. Teaching and Learning
    iv. Documenting and Using Results
    v. Resources and Support Systems
    vi. Stakeholder Communications and Relationships
    vii. Commitment to Continuous Improvement
  2. District prepares for and hosts a team of educational leaders who do school visits, conduct interviews of various stakeholders, and assess evidence gathered to support the standards.
  3. Team provides a list of Commendations and Required Actions. Visiting team gives a recommendation to AdvancED’s Accreditation Commission regarding accreditation status. Accreditation lasts for five years. (Information from http://www.advanc-ed.org )

St. Clair County Schools has completed the first step by creating a Standards Assessment Report (SAR).  Led by School Improvement Specialist Jan Darnell Bailey; teams of administrators, district leaders, and teachers have created a profile of the St. Clair County School District with evidence for the team.  Superintendent Mrs. Jenny Seals will do an overview of the district, and chairpersons will present highlights from the SAR to the team. Some of the highlights of that report include the following:  strong and evolving vision and mission, gains in assessments at various grade levels, an increase of the district’s overall graduation rate from 83%- 87%, strong evidence of policies and procedures, increased access to technology in the classroom, trust in the stewardship of school finances, indications that stakeholders surveyed are included in the educational process, and more.  Some of the challenges still facing the district: providing necessary resources and personnel during increased proration, making adequate yearly progress (AYP) in all subgroups within the schools, aligning curriculum across the district and with new national standards, communicating with stakeholders in an effective and timely manner.

The next step is the external team visit.  This will occur October 24- 27.  The team will be greeted with a gift basket of items displaying many businesses and goods of St. Clair County to acquaint them with the area and communities. They will stay in a local hotel, eat at local restaurants, and make visits to the central office and various schools interviewing leaders and stakeholders and observing the educational process.  The team is from all over the country and will be here to make an objective report to help the district capitalize on its strengths and continually improve. 

So just like that ant mound, keep in mind that the district is working in the midst of challenges to do the best job for the students of St. Clair County.  If you see this team at the end of October entering your school or your dining establishment at lunch, greet them and assure them that you support the work of the district to Prepare Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.

(article created for the St. Clair Times by Brandi Caldwell, Technology Integration Specialist)

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Latest Newsletter

Here is the October newsletter with information about our schools.
October Newsletter

Proration

Information about proration from a September 16th letter from Dr. Morton followed by my thoughts for SCCBOE:

proration

For us, this news was totally unexpected. We had not planned on additional proration for the 2009-2010 (current) year. Based on all indications from the state, we did not believe that additional proration would be called this fiscal year. Financially, this additional proration is not good news.   Already this year we have been faced with a loss of funding of approximately $3.2 million (7.5%) and the additional 2% will amount to approximately another $850,000-$900,000.  We are currently working on a plan to help offset the effects this will have on our school systems finances. 

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Celebrating why we teach…

This year’s Institute was held at Bethel Baptist Church.  Please read the St. Clair Times article highlighting all the great things our students presented.  Here is a video highlighting teachers in St. Clair County.

I Teach Because

Institute- an inspirational day

Thanks for a great job at Institute Day

Thanks for a great job at Institute Day

End of School Letter

End of School Letter

Financial Stability During Proration- Doing Our Best

Money Grab
Image by Steve Wampler via Flickr

In a previous post I shared with you a slide show given to legislators and board members regarding our budget situation.  You will hear many bleak stories regarding our state education budget and proration.  Although we will definitely feel the effects of proration, our number one financial goal is to be good stewards of the monies entrusted into our school district.  We are proud to have Laura Nance, the recipient of the fourth annual Robert L. Morton award by the Alabama Association of School Business Officials (AASBO), as our Chief Financial Officer.  She along with all members of the central office financial staff work hard to make sure our books are in order.  Here are just a few other things we celebrate in the area of financial stability during a tough time of proration:

  • Restructured finance department to help oversee to local practices in all of the schools for accountability including monthly internal audits by an internal auditor
  • All State Audits have been unqualified which is the best rating you can acquire
  • Our Comprehensive Review by the state department this November was outstanding
  • Continuously searching funding through grants
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Adding more lines of communication

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We have started a Twitter account for St. Clair County Schools.  This will just be another avenue to communicate with our communities.  If you are a part of the Twitter community, follow us at the username SCCBOE.

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Communication through social networks and the web

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You can follow me in other ways through my Facebook page. Although my blog is not open for comments yet, you can contact me or leave me a message on my website.  I look forward to your thoughts and feedback as we Prepare Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.

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Financial Status

St. Clair County Board of Ed

The St. Clair County Board of Education has always done the most possible for students with the money given to us.  As you can see from the slides above, proration has cut a deep hole.  We have had money in reserve to cover our district for rainy days, but the current situation is equivalent to a flood.  Because of proration we have lost almost $1000 per student in our district.  Continue to know that we will do the best we can with our funds even in times of proration and beyond. Please share with our legislatures the importance of supporting K-12  funding.