Superintendent

Harbron








October 2017

Dover School Community,

 

I am starting my fourth month of service with the Dover School District and continue to be amazed and impressed with the Dover community and schools. It is apparent that the community’s children are surrounded by a highly supportive community and a committed school district. Over the past three months, I have had the opportunity to meet and to have conversations with community members and school employees who want outstanding schools that support children in their physical, emotional, academic, and social development.

During September, I began my visits to the schools and classrooms where I sense enthusiasm and positive energy from the teachers, support staff, and administration. I had the opportunity to observe and talk with students as they are engaged in their learning. They speak freely about liking their school and their teachers which speaks volumes about the climate and culture of the schools. Most importantly, it speaks of the passion and commitment the Dover educators consistently demonstrate for their students and the personal value they place on learning and continually improving the quality and effectiveness of their classes and their school.

On August 28, I had the opportunity to address the faculty, staff, and administration. My topic was Small Matters. Those little acts that demonstrate sincere care and appreciation for others and help to make the connection and develop healthy relationships. I am hearing and observing those small acts of care and kindness in our schools. These small acts continue to build to make a positive difference and impact upon the children we serve. Again, this speaks volumes about the climate and culture of the Dover Schools.

September has also been a busy month of school open houses which has afforded me the opportunity to meet and observe parents and guardians as they participated in the open houses. All the open houses were well attended demonstrating the commitment of parent and guardians to their child’s education.

Second Community Coffee

I still have a great deal to learn about the Dover community and schools. To continue my Entry Plan into the school district, Mayor Weston and I will be hosting our second community coffee on Saturday, October 28, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Dover Police Department Training Room. I hope you will join Mayor Weston and me so I may learn more of your observations about the Dover School District. If you are unable to attend, I am interested in having conversations with individuals and small groups about the Dover School District. If you would like to schedule a time, please contact the me at 603-516-6804.

 

Strategic Plan

I shared in the September Superintendent message that the Dover Schools are engaged in the process of developing a five-year strategic plan. In September, the Steering Committee met to review the process and to provide feedback. The impact received was helpful as we move forward with the timeline to complete the strategic plan:

  • October 2017
    • Small group meets to review and blend the work of school and SAU groups.
    • Leadership Team and SAU meets to review and refine drafts.
    • The District Strategic Planning Committee will meet in October to review and provide feedback on the initial draft.
  • November 2017
    • First reading by the Dover School Board. Board will provide feedback on the strategic plan.
    • Leadership Team and SAU makes refinements and revisions based on Board feedback.
  • December 2017
  • Second reading and adoption of the Dover School District Strategic Plan by the Dover School Board.

To date, the following are the goals and objectives of the strategic plan:

GOAL 1: The Dover School District will improve educational outcomes for students by effectively engaging with the broader community.

  • Objective 1.1 – Student Voice: We will enhance student voice by creating a student-driven environment that allows all students to have meaningful input and choice into their learning program.
  • Objective 1.2 – Student Support and Wellness: We will enhance support and wellness for all students through purposeful engagement in classroom and community based activities.
  • Objective 1.3 – College and Career Partnerships: For students to freely explore all post-graduation options, we will improve and expand out college and career network by strengthen existing partnerships and develop new Partnerships with businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions.
  • Objective 1.4 – Family Understanding and Participation: We will provide opportunities for diverse families to engage with the Dover schools using sustainable strategies to foster consistent and authentic two-way communication.
  • Objective 1.5 – Community Understanding and Participation: We will provide opportunities for diverse community stakeholders to engage with the Dover schools in shared problem solving and decision making.

GOAL 2: The Dover School District will develop and sustain a culture that is characterized by optimizing social, emotional, civic, physical, and rigorous academic learning.

  • Objective 2.1 – Social, Emotional, Physical: We will promote and support the overall health and well-bring of all students and staff.
  • Objective 2.2 – Student Engagement in Learning: We will maximize each student’s level and investment and engagement in learning.
  • Objective 2.3 – Student Achievement: We will optimize individual achievement by ensuring every student receives academic instruction that is culturally responsive and matched to development needs.
  • Objective 2.4 – Competency Based Education – We will optimize student learning and achievement by developing and implementing a competency based education model.
  • Objective 2.5 – Technology Integration: We will establish and sustain effective integration of technology into all aspects of the curriculum, teaching, and community.
  • Objective 2.6 – Technology Instruction: We will facilitate the student’s ability to critically evaluate information available through technology.
  • Objective 2.7 – Extracurricular and Co-Curricular: We will establish and sustain opportunities for all students to engage in a variety of healthy and productive extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

GOAL 3: The Dover School District is committed to continue investments in infrastructure to support student learning inclusive of facilities, technology, and safety-security.

  • Objective 3.1 – Facilities Maintenance and Development: We will provide, manage, maintain clean, safe, and adequate facilities to support student learning, effective instruction, and community engagement.
  • Objective 3.2 – Informational Technology Maintenance and Development: We will provide a robust technology infrastructure, support and training to facilitate a technology rich, collaborative 21st century learning environment.
  • Objective 3.3 – Safety and Security: We will commit to investing and supporting the safety and security for the wellbeing of all students and staff.

GOAL 4: The Dover School District will recruit, hire, develop and retain effective and caring educators and support them in their growth as strong community members.

  • Objective 4.1 – Recruiting and Retaining: We plan for and manage staff hiring, placement, turnover, and succession.
  • Objective 4.2 – Professional Development: We will cultivate continuous improvement of instruction and leadership capacities to increase student growth and achievement through individual and collective professional development.

Dover High School and Career Technical Center

The new Dover High School and Career Technical Center is under construction and quickly taking form. The Joint Building Committee meets twice monthly with the architect and construction manager to monitor and review the progress of the project. The construction project is on schedule and on budget.

 

In 2015, the Dover School District worked with Dr. Frank Locker to establish the vision and direction for the new high school and career technical center. The Educational Vision reflects the work of a Visioning Team; approximately 45 teachers, administrators, students, parents, community members ad board members. HMF Architects, chosen as architects for the new Dover High School and Career Technical Center, was represented in the process. Created through intense facilitated workshops over six days, it is intended to guide the long-term development of both education and facilities for Dover High School and Career Technical Center. 

 

The work of the Visioning Process is composed of two parts, the Educational Vision and the Facility Concept. The following is a summary of the two parts.

 

The Guiding Principles presented were created to express the values, beliefs, and concepts developed by the Visioning Tea, which examined educational trends, best practices, and issues affecting the delivery of 21st century education. These guiding principles present the essence of that inquiry. They are not policy, but they address the overarching themes identified by the participants. They serve as the foundation for the planning of DHS and CTC. As such, they are intended to form the basis of future educational delivery and facility development.

The overarching Guiding Principles are:

 

  • Integrate CTC and DHS through facilities planning and as much as practical, course offerings
  • Create flexibility in facilities, thinking, scheduling, and curriculum
  • Provide communication, leadership, and staff professional development to continue shifting educational model to one that is research-based, employing innovative student-centered practices
  • Prepare students for success in the 21st century, an emerging world of global competition, uncertain employment prospects, infinite access to information, and rapid change in technology
  • Teach 21st century skills at the same time as traditional content
  • Foster relationships in all aspects of school, including paying conscious attention to building relationships with students, families, and communities through school structure and programs
  • Aspire beyond the Common Core to do what is best for student learning, and to instill a life-long sense of wonder and purpose. Create independent, life-long learners.
  • Establish a program of staff professional development to support educational delivers outlined here
  • Make all learning and facilitates design student-centered
  • Increase opportunities for project based learning.

The Visioning Team reviewed fourteen exemplar schools from the USA, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Working in Table Teams they ranked the schools for appropriateness for the future DHS and CTC. Four of the schools were cited for their specific concepts. The concepts from those models were included in further discussion of school organization ultimately leading to a diagram of the school organization. The critical concepts from the models and from the discussion are:

  • A centralized space which could be called Commons or Town Square. Public Access to this space will be encouraged
  • Spaces most likely to have public access require special care in planning to maintain safety and security. Coordinate public access to these destinations with controlled access doors as few as possible.
  • School organized into Small Learning Communities
  • Academic and CTE spaces should be integrated within the Small Learning Communities
  • Integrate public facing CTE programs such as culinary, cosmetology, and the school store into the centralized space
  • Small Learning Communities must be flexible and adaptable to operate either in a thematic mode or interdisciplinary mode.
  • Encourage a high level of visual connection throughout.

Garrison Elementary School Project

The Garrison Elementary School remodeling and modernization project will be getting underway in January. The architect is Harriman and Associates and the construction manager is Harvey Construction. The project will be completed in phases to allow for the appropriate funding of the project. Phase 1 will begin in January and will expand eighteen-month period. The following is included in Phase 1 at the investment of just under $7.5 million.

 

Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Process

The budget process for Fiscal Year 2019 is in the beginning stages. What is the role and purpose of the school budget? The school budget—and accompanying process—provides school districts and their leaders with an opportunity to justify the collection and expenditure of public funds. In its most simple definition, a school budget describes a district’s plan for the upcoming year as related to anticipated revenues and expenditures. School budgets allow districts to translate sometimes intangible missions, operations and objectives into reality by outlining and providing specific programs and funding/financial terms. A school budget helps bridge the gap that can exist between a district’s stated goals and resource allocation. The budget process forces the discussion that will inform choices among various programs competing for the limited available resources. As William Hartman writes, key steps of the school budget process include, “…establishing the district’s objectives and priorities; allocating resources; involving the public through budget hearings, school board decisions and other means of representative democracy; and, in some states, conducting budget elections.” (Hartman, 1999).

As the Dover School District prepares for the development of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, the budget priorities need to be guided by the District’s Strategic Plan which establishes the district’s direction and the priorities for a five-year period.

 

Furthermore, it is recognized the District’s goals are for a five-year period. In addition, the strategic goals will need to be addressed in increments to provide adequate funding and to allow for the realistic implementation and accomplishment of the strategies that lead to goal accomplishment.

The District must be fiscally responsible and be able to annually demonstrate what has been achieved through the appropriate and adequate funding of the strategic goals. Furthermore, to determine the performance of the budget, it is essential that benchmarks of success are established for the budget categories.

The core purpose of the school district is student learning and achievement. It is further recognized for all learners to be successful the appropriate programs and services must be in place to support the learning of all students. It is also recognized that student learning encompasses not only the core academics, but encompasses the emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of the student. It is essential the District has the resources to educate the diversity of students and the whole-learner and to prepare all students to achieve their post-secondary goals, to be continual learners, to be engaged in purposeful vocations, and to contribute to the welfare of their family and community.

During the monthly Superintendent Message, I will strive to continue to keep you informed of the significant projects that are evolving in the Dover School District.

Sincerely,

 

William R. Harbron, Ed.D.

Superintendent