911 Board talks future professional development

By Rachel Kytonen

Professional development and plans for the future were discussed during the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting Thursday, March 22.

Susan Burris, director of teaching and learning, presented the professional development plan for 2012-13 through 2016-17.

Burris explained the theme, “Developing 21st Century Learners and Leaders,” follows the framework of Rigor, Relevance and Relationships by the International Center for School Leadership.

“We have great teachers, I know that,” Burris said. “They have passion, commitment and dedication. We need to keep moving forward … We need to do this because it’s an investment for the future.”

Burris said staying connected to the International Center for School Leadership is a way to raise student achievement and support instructional leadership. She said use of technical bulletins, newsletters, webinars and videos can give the district up-to-date next practices to support its professional development.

Burris said technology integration for all students and staff is also important. She said the district needs to evaluate its support for the core areas of instruction as the teachers move toward better use of technology to guide and support learning for all students.

Burris touched on implementing an iPad initiative for teachers to support professional development, as well as a ‘Bring your own technology’ opportunity for students and teachers in the district. She also wants to continue to utilize the Academic Coach Program as a conduit to the classroom in regard to technology integration and use.

Burris wants to focus on data-driven decision-making that includes frequent use of data and structured collaboration and instructional improvement.

Part of this includes maintaining and supporting building level leadership teams as they plan data driven decision making into the process of school improvement and raising student achievement. It also is based on continuing to base instructional and operational decisions on research-based information.

The last area Burris touched on was embedded professional development and growth, building leadership capacity and structured collaboration.

This would include developing and implementing an aligned job description and evaluation program for all staff, and implement a new teacher evaluation system as required by state statute. Like the other areas Burris discussed, this area would also utilize the Academic Coach Program.

Board Member Mark Becker asked Burris about the status of the Academic Coach Program since the funding was coming to an end.

Burris said funding for the program is being discussed as part of the district’s budgeting process that is currently taking place. The board asked details regarding costs of the program, and Burris said that information can be provided at an upcoming meeting.

Becker also asked about class sizes, and determining student-teacher ratios. Burris explained that is determined by the school board, and the district follows the parameters set by the school board.

Becker commented that even though decisions haven’t been made yet, the board may want to consider bringing more teachers to the classrooms.

He said he feels the new school board that began in January should have a chance to discuss teacher-student ratios in the classrooms.

Burris said the district isn’t far enough along in the Academic Coach Program to provide statistics regarding student improvement as a direct result of the program. The data isn’t available yet due to the program being in the beginning stages.

Burris has talked about the benefits of the Academic Coach Program at previous board meetings, and provided comments from teachers who feel the program is a benefit to the school district.

“I can tell you our instructional coaching is stellar,” Burris said. “School districts all across the region, and into northern Minnesota, are watching the Cambridge-Isanti School District. Cambridge-Isanti is a beacon. We have developed a model that is successful.”

Superintendent Bruce Novak said the district needs to give its teachers and students the elements they need to succeed.

“Our teachers are expected to do more and more, and we need to provide them with the tools of the trade so to speak,” Novak said.

In other action, the school board:

  • Approved the C-I Traditional School Calendar and Year Round School Calendar for the 2012-13 school year. First day of school for the traditional calendar is Sept. 4; and Year Round is Aug. 1.
  • Approved Monday, April 9, as a make-up day for traditional calendar year students due to the snow day.
  • Approved the bid from Culinex in the amount of $286,223 for the CIHS cafeteria kitchen remodeling project.
  • Met in closed session to discuss teacher negotiations.
  • Watched a video made by CIHS multimedia students in response to the Rachel’s Challenge presentation heard earlier in the school year. The multimedia students interviewed students and teachers in regard to their thoughts on bullying at CIHS. Rachel Scott was the first victim killed in Columbine. One of the objectives for Rachel’s Challenge in the schools includes creating a safe learning environment for all students by re-establishing civility and delivering proactive antidotes to school violence and bullying.