Our custodial staff has been hard at work to prepare the schools for your students. Some things will be very noticeable to you and your student such as the shiny polished floors throughout the buildings and the gymnasiums. Other improvements will be less noticeable but just as important to your student’s well being. We just completed updates to the heating and ventilation systems at the high school that will give much better air flow and exhaust capabilities in the high school science rooms that so often include noxious chemical odors as part of their lab experiments.
Our teachers completed two weeks of professional development workshops and meetings to be more fully prepared to meet the changes coming in education in Wisconsin with the new State Accountability Initiative. The goal of this initiative, just as is the goal of each one of us working in the schools, is to find ways to build and improve on the very strong education program we have had and continually see growth in student achievement. The work the teachers have done over the last week will give them additional tools to more effectively instruct and engage our students in educational growth.
This year will be no exception to the proposition of facing new challenges. Last year the unexpected drop in consolidation incentive aid and the failed referendum caused concern and necessitated budget reductions. This year that does not look as bleak because of unpredictable swings in the aid formula and how they impact our consolidation incentive aid. Recently we spent an hour with Senator Jauch to discuss, among other things, our concern with this unpredictable formula and the severe financial drop we will face coming out of the consolidation in 2014-2015. We will continue to work with our politicians to address the unique financial challenges we face in our consolidation as we continue to look at ways to run more effectively and efficiently.
The students, parents and community have much to be proud of in our schools and our students. Our WKCE test scores met or exceeded state averages in most areas. Meeting this target was one of the Strategic Planning Goals the District made in 2008. However, this year the challenge we will face is that the state is completely changing the way WKCE tests are scored utilizing the National Assessment of Education progress (NAEP) grading scale. As an example of how this will affect us, in the past approximately 82% of students in Wisconsin scored proficient on reading testing. Utilizing the new NAEP scoring, that will translate into 34% as being proficient. Students are not performing worse on the testing. The state, as part of its waiver from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Law, is now adopting a more rigorous scoring system which will help us all in the long run.
We had our school district open house last Thursday and it provided an opportunity for students and parents to meet their teacher and learn about the programs and opportunities for our students this year. Whether you have children in school or not, I urge you to visit a school and see the many good things we are doing for the children of our communities. If you couldn't get to the open house come another time. Come to a sports event, volunteer to read to students, attend a concert or play, become part of a parent support group. Your involvement in our development of these future citizens is crucial to their successful education so thank you in advance for that involvement. Welcome to the 2012-2013 school year!