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Message from Board President Erica Nelson on behalf of the Board of Education
On May 6, our newly elected Board of Education (BOE) members will be sworn in and three members whose terms are ending will depart. At that time, the BOE will elect its officers, who will serve for the next two years. In light of these transitions, I wanted to reflect on a few of our accomplishments and to share my confidence in the future.
- After a national search for a new superintendent, the BOE hired Dr. Paul Gordon, a dynamic educator who will build on Dr. Ann Riebock's outstanding leadership toward meeting the goals of the district's Long-Range Plan.
- The BOE approved the 2012-2016 teachers' contract, which enhances the district's continuous improvement processes and supports financial sustainability.
- As part of our commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency and sustainability, we formed a citizen's Financial Advisory Committee; established a recommended fund balance and a process for addressing fund balances under or over that amount; abated $2.7 million to taxpayers by making bond and interest payments out of fund balances; and created a Transparency Section and a Financial Dashboard on our Web site where residents can easily find detailed financial information.
- We approved several measures to strengthen the educational experience of our students: next year there will be a Dual Language kindergarten option, and Spanish instruction will begin in first grade for all students; teachers in grades 2-5 will specialize in either STEAM/math (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) or literacy/social studies; and we will begin to implement a multiage educational approach over time. These progressive measures will help our teachers better prepare students for mastering the new Common Core standards and succeeding in the 21st century.
- We renovated the Hadley parking lot; repainted the elementary schools; upgraded our technology devices, hardware and infrastructure capacity; and improved our school security systems. We've also approved summer projects that will improve our students' experience, for instance remodeling the Hadley Library Media Center.
- We continued to engage the community on the issue of inadequate facilities and our 500 students in 32 portable classrooms. Although we put plans to acquire a property for a new junior high on hold after receiving discouraging feedback, we hope that constituents gained a better understanding of the issues and of why the board is committed to a long-term solution: so that these community assets-our schools-can contribute fully to the quality of life our community members deserve and, we believe, expect.
As we approach the transition between the "old" and the "new" BOE, I feel grateful to departing members Terra Costa Howard, Dan Smith Jr., and Steve Vondrak for their insights, their commitment and their capacity for hard work. Those of us who are continuing (or returning) board members-Sam Black, Drew Ellis, John Kenwood and I-are excited to begin working with new members Joe Bochenski, Dean Elger and Patrick Escalante. We will find in the transition the continuity of our Long-Range Plan and the opportunities that new perspectives and talents bring.
I'll end with an invitation from all of your BOE members, past, present and future: join with us by staying informed, coming to meetings and providing your input. You are the indispensible partner in everything we ever hope to achieve for our students.