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Looking Back and Ahead

Like many of you, it’s been trying as Cassia School district works through issues in the course of a once in a lifetime event. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t moving forward and tackling situations as they arise. Each school year provides its own memories and unexpected turns, but this one could not have been planned for or anticipated. As we review the 2019-2020 school year, we don’t want the work of the beginning to be lost amid the crisis at the end. The goals and priorities that chartered our course back in August are still valid efforts now.

Superintendent , Jim Shank, initiated professional learning communities for all staff and schools at the kick off meeting in the fall. We have written and spoken much about the power of developing teachers and leveraging their strengths to grow educators and spur on achievement. The current circumstances have not diminished the importance of great teachers. If anything, it’s been underscored. Professional teaching skills that draw on collaboration will be needed more than ever as we look to strengthen students coming back to school after an extended break. The tenets of professional learning communities will continue to drive instruction: teaching doesn’t stop until the learning has taken place.

The Board and central administration spent the first part of the year reviewing and investigating budgets leading up to the supplemental levy election held in early March. This exercise has shown its value in light of current budget reductions and forthcoming reductions. School district budgets are complex and are primarily dependent upon state support with needed supplemental dollars coming directly from local taxes. A scheduled June 18th budget hearing at 5pm will be open to the public.

Strategic planning was a focal point of Board work during the preceding school year and summer. The Board spent a considerable amount of time developing the plan and reviewing department strategic plans before adopting all plans. Like the timely budgeting exercise, strategic planning has provided guideposts for making decisions throughout the year and will certainly inform future planning.

The transition to outside management of janitorial services has been a success as we consider the output and performance of ABM. Services began as the start of the school year and work reports confirm the Board’s decision. The numbers of completed work orders have substantially increased in the September to April time frame and many deferred projects were started, as well. ABM initiated early cleaning protocols in March when students left school buildings and have been following strict sanitization guidelines since then.

A focus on student emotional health remains a priority with increased efforts to train teachers and staff to pick up on cues from students that may require additional support from families and school supports. Our district wide behavioral health program, Connect, is demonstrating success for students who are managing school life with significantly challenging life circumstances. In addition to Connect, we have partnered with Family Health Services, at several schools, to provide in-house counseling support to complement and aid the work of school counselors.

Despite the unusual school end and unexpected circumstances, Cassia schools have not lost focus on their mission: Supporting high levels of learning and success. And we would add that this will continue regardless of the format of instruction.