School year brought challenges, triumphs


USD 410 superintendent

With the passing of the 2009-10 school and the pending arrival of 2010-11, there are many challenges and triumphs to share on behalf of USD 410.

Our district continued to achieve ?standard of excellence? in all content areas and buildings, significant increases in reading performance occurred throughout our schools, and our special education students showed great performance gains.

Our high school unveiled the 1-1 laptop initiative with great anticipation. This proved to be challenging and tremendously rewarding at the same time. Students enjoyed the profound increase in access to online research, learning software and communication tools.

Many of our high school faculty challenged themselves to become a 21st-century instructor innovatively using technology to enhance learning. Often, our teaching staff and students learned side-by-side in support of each other.

Our middle school began the process of its transition to 1-1 laptops for students by attending technology trainings, visitations to other 1-1 districts, and team discussions about appropriate computer use policies for middle school students.

Additionally, our middle school entered into the Multi-Tiered System of Support arena by providing appropriate three-tiered reading instruction in core, targeted and intensive learning environments.

Our elementary faculty began year two of its implementation of MTSS with a renewed focus on teaching reading skills by using a system-wide approach to curriculum, tiered instruction, and ongoing assessment.

Additionally, our elementary school recently applied to become a ?School-Wide Title I School,? allowing further flexibility to place federal Title I dollars to address the immediate learning needs of students.

Athletics and activities also continued their outstanding tradition of excellence. Our fine-arts programs displayed the tremendous creativity of our instructors and students as shown in the elementary, middle, and high school concerts, contests, and the annual fine arts festival in the spring.

Athletic success was monumental with 10 of 12 (83 percent) Trojan teams being represented in state-level competition?a state participation percentage unapproachable by nearly every other high school in the state.

On the business side of things, our operational budget has seen a $750,000 reduction the past two years, forcing the board of education into the unenviable position of continued program and people cuts.

Recently, the board of education and the USD 410 Teachers Association agreed on the revisions to the 2010-11 Master Contract. Included in the revisions was a continued commitment to provide a benefit to pay health insurance and to add $625 to the base salary schedule.

It is notable that even with the increase in wages and salaries to 2010-11 staff, total salaries for next year are actually lower than 2009-10. This is due to less overall staff, significant reductions in overtime hours, fewer paid supplemental positions and fewer bus drivers for activities.

Our staff continues to ?do more with less,? and the modest increase in salaries and wages during tough budget times is a reflection of the commitment our board has made to attract and retain a highly qualified staff.

In closing, our challenges moving forward are many?yet, USD 410 is poised for continued greatness in all educational areas. We will need to maintain our resolve to be great like never before in the face of budget shortages.

In the fall, our board of education will be working to establish new and revised district goals in the face of our financial reality. These goals will lay the foundation for our ?Plan for Success.? I am confident our district and communities will rise to the challenge.

It has been said many times that great challenges create great opportunities. Opportun?ity is knocking.

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