What I'm Thankful ForPosted by Dr. Curtis Jones on 11/15/2017 12:00:00 PM
Thanksgiving is right around the corner! We are about to take a break from the hard work of school to enjoy time with family and friends. It’s also the time of year when we begin to say in a more formal process how thankful we are for the blessings we have been given.
I want to thank you for the work you’ve done for our school district, and I want to thank you for your dedication and your loyalty. The first quarter of school was a very good one. We achieved a lot: Our test scores are higher, our graduation rate is higher, our enrollment is trending up, and the indicators that we have for the Pay for Performance show we’re doing a lot of things well.
You may not know this, but several of our schools and employees have been recognized and asked to present at state and national conferences this month. Congratulations to Dr. Lori Rodgers and Vanessa Wynn for presenting at the AdvancED Conference last week and congratulations to Howard Middle School for being recognized as a Breakout School at the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP) Fall Conference this week.
Howard Middle School received the School Breakout Award at GASSP this week.
A lot of things are moving in the right direction; and yet, there are always just a couple of steps backwards. Recently, we’ve had incidences where students have just done some foolish things – thrown an object that was inappropriate, not knowing where it was going to land; deciding to take matters of defending themselves into their own hands and not trusting the administrators and teachers in the building; and in some cases, just totally unexpected behavior.
I want to encourage you to remember why we do this job, why we’re involved in public education, and why this is important work. As you take this last week to be with students and get ready to enjoy a week with family and friends, know that I’m thankful for you. I’m very, very thankful for you, and I ask that you enjoy the beginning of this special season and that you come back to us ready to finish this first semester.
Things are getting better. When I arrived two and half years ago, I was told we used to say, “Things are better in Bibb.” I think we can say it again: Things are better. Let’s do our part to make it continue that way. You’re a large part of it. Thank you.
- COL DR
The Bibb Association of Educators recognized American Education Week on Monday. Thank you to all educators for your service to our students!
A Great Day for CelebratingPosted by Dr. Curtis Jones on 11/2/2017 8:00:00 AM
When I joined the Bibb County School District in April 2015, I said we had some work to do internally – that we needed to help ourselves grow in capacity. Two and half years ago, I said we would become better, and that once we became better the community would partner with us and help us become the school district it wanted us to be.
Today, November 2, is a great day for our District and our community! With the release of CCRPI scores from 2016-2017 today, we are able to share that our District’s CCRPI score has gone up! It is at 64.9, which not only represents an increase for us from the previous year, but also shows as a district we are above the line in being successful because this is the second year in a row we have had a CCRPI score above 60. Congratulations to our principals, our teachers, our students and to our parents. I’m proud of our CCRPI improvements and I know it is our intent to continue to get better.
But, that’s not the only exciting news today. The District’s mission statement says we will not only develop a highly trained staff, but we will have an engaged community. Today, the Business Education Partnership (BEP) from OneMacon announced it has raised $2.1 million to implement a character education program in all our elementary and middle schools. This program, The Leader in Me, is based on Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and it will allow us to teach our students, beginning in kindergarten, what the 7 Habits mean. They will learn how they can be proactive, how they can begin with the end in mind, and how to put first things first. Not only that, but it will teach them how to think win-win, how to seek first to understand before being understood, and how they’re able to synergize or come together as a team. And finally, it tells them it can’t be all work; you also have to be able to have fun, take care of yourself and find balance – to sharpen the saw.
I learned the 7 Habits back in 1999 and I still remember them today, and in many ways they help guide what I think and do every day. I’m very proud we are implementing this in our schools now. Currently, The Leader in Me is in eight of our schools – Burdell-Hunt, Carter, Bernd, Hartley, Ingram-Pye, Porter, Southfield and Vineville – and this great announcement today will allow us to expand it to others.
When you think about just two and half years ago when our CCRPI score was below 60 and now it has been above 60 for two years in a row, and when you think about this great announcement about the BEP’s $2.1 million fundraising effort for schools, you can see our District has come a long way. Our community has come a long way. So, November 2 is a great day for all of us!
On a related note, November is National Parent Engagement Month. It’s an opportunity for parents to reflect on how they’re engaging with our school district and how we’re engaging with parents. My hope is this month we will both recommit ourselves to what’s important – the students. I hope parents will find an opportunity to visit their child’s school, speak with teachers, look at students’ grades, and reflect on how we can better partner together for our students.
Again, congratulations to all. Let’s enjoy this time and let’s continue to get better together. Victory in Progress continues!
- COL DR
Thank you to Rutland High for inviting me to be a part of the dedication of your outdoor classroom this week. It was great to celebrate the support our district has received from the Peyton Anderson Foundation's Teach to Inspire grant!
Planning for the FuturePosted by Dr. Curtis Jones Jr. on 10/11/2017 5:00:00 PM
I’m going to do something I don’t like to do, and that is addressing a rumor going around the community about our school district. Currently, there is a petition being circulated throughout the community that now has more than 500 signatures, and the petition is asking for the Board of Education and Superintendent to not close L.H. Williams Elementary School. The petition, which you can find online, is based on a rumor that the school will close and that it will be reopened as a state charter school for DREAM Academy.
I want to start by clarifying that the Board of Education has not made any decision and I have not made any recommendation to close L.H. Williams Elementary School. We are in the process of reviewing all of the District’s facilities as part of our Five-Year Facilities Plan, which is required of all school districts by the Georgia Department of Education. As you may recall, last spring the Board and I went on a tour of schools. Some of the schools we visited had relatively low enrollment and the purpose was for Board members to see those schools in operation – to see how the classrooms that were not being utilized for instruction were still being used by the school in some manner. That was a good tour and I think it was very informative for our Board members.
Since that tour, the process is now at the point where a team of external facility experts are reviewing all of our facilities in the district. This is all part of the Five-Year Facilities Plan process, and once the plan is finalized, it will be used to inform our ESPLOST work. In some cases, the facility review process may lead to a recommendation from the external team that we build new schools, consolidate schools, or close schools. We are expecting an update on the facility review at our next Board of Education meeting, and that is just another step in the process.
As you also know, DREAM Academy has been approved to open next summer and its governing board is looking for a home for the school. Rumor has it they are interested in L.H. Williams Elementary School, but at this point we have not been approached by DREAM to purchase L.H. Williams. Here’s the point, though – if the recommendation from the external facility review process is to close or consolidate schools, and if we have the opportunity to receive funding for one of those schools instead of having the building sit empty, then we need to have the opportunity to review those possibilities. That’s what I shared with the Board and perhaps that’s the source of the rumor. It is reasonable to believe that in January I will be making a recommendation to the Board that will inform our facility usage over the next five years.
I have to be honest with you, and I knew this when I came to Bibb in 2015 – we have about 23,000 students in our district and in 2015 we were operating our facilities at about 80 percent capacity. That’s not a bad percentage, but since 2015 we have opened ACE, and we have opened and closed Macon Charter Academy. Cirrus Academy, a state-approved charter, has opened and DREAM, another state-approved charter, is scheduled to open next summer. We also have received a letter of intent from Bloomfield Academy, which would like to open as a locally approved charter school. My point is these additional schools did not and will not bring additional students. We still have about the same number of students we had in 2015, but they have spread out more among these additional schools, and that can lead to underutilization of buildings.
I think the conversation the community is about to have is how many schools do we need and how do we utilize them? It’s hard to say that you want more and more charter schools, without accepting that means some other schools will close because, again, you only need so many. It’s kind of like a family with two adults and two children who aren’t old enough to drive yet – they only need one or two cars; it doesn’t make sense to have five cars – it’s too expensive. This is the process we’re going through. From my perspective, this is a great conversation for the community to have. I’ve always said I believe that charter schools that help us are invited, but there is another side. That other side is once you get so many charter schools, there will be some schools that may need to close.
So, as I said earlier, we are looking at all of our facilities, not just L.H. Williams. No decisions have been made at this time. And, we’ll make the best decisions we can to be efficient and effective. We will continue to work through our process so we can make the best recommendation to the Board, so the Board can then make an informed decision about how we move forward as a District. That is the truth behind the rumor.
- COL DR
Williams Elementary School
Getting Better FasterPosted by Dr. Curtis Jones Jr. on 10/6/2017 10:10:00 AM
I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but I am Getting Better Faster. I truly am. I have been a Junior ROTC instructor, a high school principal, an assistant superintendent, and a superintendent now for 8 years, and I am getting better faster. Do you want to know how? It is by doing the things we have always talked about doing.
I started the school year by going to visit classroom teachers that were beginning teachers or who were new to our school district. I asked principals to share with me and show me who the new teachers were that went through our Get Better Faster training. Then, the principal and I would follow up with a conversation about what we observed. I finished that set of rounds throughout our district, and in my current rounds I am visiting some of the best teachers we have in our district. In fact, I am going to the principals and saying, “Take me to your best teacher.” The principals smile and say OK, and off we go. I have seen some tremendous teaching in our schools. It is impressive!
After the principal and I leave the classroom, I ask the principal to tell me what he/she saw, which is the same thing I said when we would leave a new teacher’s classroom. “Tell me what you saw.”
The principals and I have had some great conversations. Sometimes the conversation is, “Wow, that teacher is fantastic. All of the things we have seen in Get Better Faster – the Scope and Sequence of it – this teacher has it down.” Every now and then, we’ll find some teachers and we’ll say, “You know, if that teacher had made sure the entire class was fully engaged, it would have been fantastic,” or “There was a student who was in the back of the room who was lost, and if the teacher had just been able to monitor a little bit more aggressively and seen that, it would have been great.” Another one has been, “If the teacher had used aggressive monitoring to figure out which students were going to solve the problem quickly and had gone to those students first to give the others time to work it out, it would have been great.”
I’ll be honest with you – I have never had these kinds of conversations with principals before this year. I haven’t seen this level of focus for what it is we’re looking for, and what it is we think good teaching looks like. I’ve seen good teaching, but I didn’t really know how to focus my conversation about it.
So, I’m Getting Better Faster. I think I am a better instructional leader, I think I am better in having conversations with principals and having feedback, and I just think that it is a good feeling to know that even after being a superintendent for 8 years, I can go to a classroom and learn in each room that I experience. It has been fantastic!
For those of you going through Get Better Faster, enjoy it. For those of you who may not be going through the process, ask your principal to show you the Scope and Sequence, and look at some of the things going on. Many of you know that I am an Atlanta Falcons fan, and I will tell you that based on what I have seen the last couple of weeks Matt Ryan could use some good feedback as well. He may have been All-Pro, he may have been the most valuable player last year, but we all can use some good feedback. I think there’s an opportunity for all of us to learn from this.
Here’s another opportunity – this is Read for the Record month, and I understand this year’s Read for the Record book is Quackers. Let’s celebrate Reading for the Record! Our reading scores are improving, our community is helping, students know their Lexile scores, and things are moving in the right direction for us. Let’s keep building on this momentum!
I am very happy and very proud of the work that we’re doing. Congratulations, and keep up the great work! Let’s a have a restful and wonderful Fall Break next week.
- COL DR
We're celebrating reading! This week, I was honored to participate as Lane Elementary recognized fourth-grader Laela Freeland, who was the school's first "Millionaire Reader."
The Macon-Bibb County Fire Department held a ceremony this week to recognize the winners of its Louise Poe Fire Safety Essay Awards. The contest was open public, private and home school students in Bibb County, but all nine awards were won by students from our District!
Class of 2017 Graduation RatePosted by Dr. Curtis Jones Jr. on 9/27/2017 10:00:00 AM
I am very excited about the Class of 2017’s graduation rate of 77 percent – very excited and very happy!
This is one indication of the hard work that students, parents, teachers, principals, and all support staff are putting into place to make things come together. A graduate is the result of elementary, middle and high school experiences coming together and the demonstration of a student’s strength of character. Students have demonstrated strength of character in coming to school with good attendance and good behavior, with a work ethic to get their work done and make the grades to pass difficult assessments, and then to meet all of the other requirements so they can graduate.
This graduation rate meant even more to me when I was made aware that in 2012 our District’s graduation rate was 52 percent. The highest school graduation rate that year was 64 percent and the lowest was 39 percent. With the Class of 2017, the lowest graduation rate among the District’s schools is 74 percent, meaning 7 out of 10 students graduated! I’m very excited that we have closed the performance gap between high schools. This means that parents may believe one high school is doing exceedingly well compared to others in the District, but we now have a band of excellence all of our high schools are performing within. When we look at the District’s average of 77 percent, and then look within plus or minus 5 percentage points for our band of excellence, each of our schools falls within that band. I think that is something to talk about – every school can be proud!
I’m very excited for the hard work every high school has done, as well as our middle schools. Congratulations to all on a job well done!
- COL DR
Graduates march in for Northeast High School's Class of 2017 ceremony.
Reflecting on the CalendarPosted by Dr. Curtis Jones Jr. on 9/22/2017 2:05:00 PM
Hurricane Irma has changed the lives of so many people, starting with the devastation that occurred in the Caribbean, and then as the storm moved through Florida and into Georgia. It’s impact on us was the cancellation of 5 days of school, September 11-15. At last night’s Board meeting, our Board of Education accepted my recommendation to make up 2 of the 5 days we lost due to Irma.
First, I’m very thankful Bibb County came through Irma without any loss of life and without extensive damage to our schools. I’m very thankful for that. I’m also thankful for the individuals who worked with the Macon-Bibb County Consolidated Government and Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency to ensure we could make the best decisions about school for the week, and I’m thankful to the Board of Education for allowing us to make up 2 of those 5 days missed.
I want to share with you my thoughts for why we are making up 2 days and not all 5 days. We’re in a situation where I believe our teachers, principals and students are working very, very hard. You’re doing an outstanding job; we know it and we see it. I also know that as we continue to implement the new innovations we have, that you’re doing a great job responding and implementing the initiatives, and I’m thankful. It was my judgment that we could make up 2 of the days and still be able to achieve success. In order to do that, here is what is going to have to happen: We’re going to have to teach bell-to-bell and we’re going to have to make every day count.
The first day we’re going to have to make count is Oct. 6, which was originally a Professional Learning Day. We’re now asking students to come to school on Oct. 6, and what I ask is that you talk to your students about the importance of being at school on Oct. 6. We need to make it a quality day. We need to be able to go back after Oct. 6 and see what the attendance of students, staff and administrators was compared to other Fridays, as well as to the weekdays before. We need to make this day count.
We need to do the same thing for Dec. 20, which is the other day we decided to use as a make-up day. There were concerns from Board members that an additional day before the holiday break would be a “wasted” day. We can’t make the argument that every day is important, that we don’t want students to miss school more than 5 days a year, and then say a day is wasted. That cannot be our position. Every day matters. Every experience matters. Let’s make Dec. 20 an important day as well.
Some of you know we have changed the way high schools earn credits, so it’s important that any days that are lost in the first semester are made up in the first semester. I also want you to be aware that if we have more bad weather that causes school cancellations this year, we will probably end up using some of the Winter Break days to make those days up as well.
I spoke with my Parent Advisory Council about the make-up days when we met for lunch today. The vast majority said they were happy with the days selected. Truthfully, some said they had expected us to make up days during Fall Break or Spring Break, and they understood the reasons for the 2 days selected.
On a separate note, I want to thank you for your efforts to make Get Better Faster work for our new teachers. The information I’m receiving is that teachers who are getting the weekly feedback and have been given small action steps to improve on are making it work and are very appreciative. I see the results as I’m visiting schools, so thank you for that.
I also know that you’re continuing to work hard with the technology in the classroom. We’ve been made aware that Progressive Communications, the company that installed the technology for us, has been informed of the feedback issue that teachers are experiencing with the microphones. I’ve been told by Progressive Communications that they can correct the problem in 30-45 days, and we expect them to start working on this next Monday. I apologize that we did not recognize this issue sooner and get it resolved sooner – that’s on me and we will correct it. Thank you for continuing to work around this issue – I greatly appreciate it.
- COL DR
Riley Elementary School students presented Mr. Ron Shipman from Georgia Power with thank you cards they made for lineman after Irma. Thank you, students!
At last night's Board of Education meeting, we recognized our Teachers of the Year. Thank you to our community partners, such as MidSouth, for supporting our teachers and district!
A Great BeginningPosted by Dr. Curtis Jones Jr. on 8/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
We have had a great beginning to the school year! Jointly, we all worked toward having a great opening of school and it appears we were successful.
As I have visited schools these first few weeks and observed the work our teachers and staff are doing, I will be honest, I have been very impressed. It is as if we did not take a break from school this summer. I’ve seen teachers engaged in creating learning relationships with students; I’ve seen students engaged in learning new material; and I’ve seen teachers putting forth their procedures and routines, and students responding. It has been a great beginning to the school year!
Let me thank you for implementing the technology we’ve talked about. One example is the audio enhancement in the classrooms. It’s a little different for some, and some believe it may even take away some of your flexibility, but this is one of the things that makes Bibb, Bibb. We are engaged in implementing the new technology and we want the community to know we have every intention of getting the full benefit of it as a resource funded by our most recent ESPLOST. Thank you to those who are continuing to set the example for this very important initiative.
I was in a classroom last week and the teacher said the lanyard that goes around the neck caused some irritation, so she had found a headset solution that worked with her classroom amplification device. I thought it was amazing! I was also impressed by her initiative to follow our steps of accountability to “See it, own it, solve, and do it.” If you need to modify the device in a way to make it work for you, please do. I just ask that you continue to use the technology; it’s important for us to all be in this together.
I know that you know the classroom audio is part of our Pay for Performance effort. It’s a way we show what we value, and if we value all the things we’ve talked about – RTI, PBIS, TKES/LKES, FIP. It’s important that we demonstrate that we walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I know some will say we don’t have to go to this extreme just for a bonus, but the truth of the matter is that we’re doing some good work. I’m very happy the Board has allowed us to recognize our hard work with a little bit of money in the future.
I also want to commend you for responding to parent needs this first month. I want to thank you for working so diligently for our students. Let’s continue to make it a great first month of school!
- COL DR
Congratulations to our top 5 finalists for 2018 Bibb County Teacher of the Year! From left, Douglas Stewart of Ingram-Pye Elementary; Felicia Batts, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary (2018 Bibb Teacher of the Year); Julie Allen, Howard High; Paige Welch, Hutchings College and Career Academy (runner-up); and Octavia Holloway, Central High.
Showing AppreciationPosted by Dr. Curtis Jones Jr. on 5/12/2017 12:05:00 PM
Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week! On behalf of our school district, the Board of Education and all who support teachers, thank you! Teachers, thank you for pouring yourselves into students. Thank you for being part of a grade-level team or department. Thank you for being a part of our school district. Thank you for being who you are and with us. You are appreciated!
Quite often we get caught up in thinking about what we can do to improve and how to solve problems. We’ve adopted steps to accountability with the motto See it, Own it, Solve it, Do it. Maybe we should add another step that says thank someone for doing it. So, thank you teachers for all you have done this school year.
Central High Principal Emanuel Frazier showed appreciation for teachers with special meals throughout the week!
I also want to say to those of you where it fits, Happy Mother’s Day. Whether you are a mother or not, this is a time to reflect on the great contributions mothers all over this country have made. I have shared with you before that my mother was a teacher and I find this is a time to reflect on that relationship. I know it is hard sometimes dividing duties between being a parent and being an educator – it takes balance. So, to all of the mothers, I hope you enjoy your Mother’s Day. I cannot think of a better time for it to come than at the end of Teacher Appreciation Week. For those of you like me who have mothers and are married to mothers, make sure you do the right thing by celebrating them and acknowledging them.
I want to thank the Board of Education for giving me an opportunity to remain with our school district for several more years. I am very appreciative, thankful and humbled. I believe we have established a culture of accountability. Our district’s culture has changed and is continuing to change, and I thank you for allowing that to occur. To be quite truthful, without the work that you have done, I’m not sure the Board would have wanted me to come back, so thank you. I think we are moving in the right direction and I’m very appreciative.
Board of Education members enjoyed meeting students and teachers during their tour of schools this week. Here we are at Heritage Elementary for lunch.
As we finish the month of May and the end of the school year, it’s also a time to prepare for the summer. Some of our students will need our support as they take part in our Summer Opportunity Program. For those of you who have time I am asking that you consider being a part of that Summer Opportunity for our students. We all say it: Not all students learn at the same rate. This is our opportunity to demonstrate it is not just something we say, but it’s also something we know and are willing to do something about. If you have a way to fit it into your schedule, please be a part of our Summer Opportunity Program to help students who are in need of some extra time.
I am looking forward to graduation and awards day programs! This is the part of the year where all of the hard work can be seen, with students getting grades for the year, earning credits, graduating, and being recognized at ceremonies. Don’t get caught up in the doing of it; at some point step back and appreciate the celebration, as well.
I think in some ways, May could just be Appreciation Month – appreciation for teachers, appreciation for parents, appreciation for those of us in public education. Let’s enjoy the moment.
- COL DR
Feedback from the Listening SessionsPosted by Dr. Curtis Jones Jr. on 2/20/2017 3:30:00 PM
I want to start by thanking those who attended the three listening sessions we had for staff this month. I felt the sessions were well attended, especially the elementary school session, and I appreciate the candor and honesty among staff at these meetings.
I want you to know I took your questions and comments to heart. Also, to expand on our conversations at the listening sessions and to gain further insight into some of the topics that were discussed, I asked for more input when I met with my Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council last week. Their responses helped provide clarity on some of the issues our teachers and staff are facing, and I appreciate their openness.
One suggestion from the group was that principals not be invited to any listening sessions in the future so that staff might feel they could speak more freely about concerns at their schools. Truthfully, though, we are trying to build a culture of transparency and open communication, and leaving some of our employees out of the conversation does not foster the openness and trust we’re trying to achieve as a district. I will say that if you ever have any concerns you feel you can’t address with your principal, you may reach out to me through Let’s Talk. Even still, I will consider not having the principals at the next listening sessions.
Below, I’ll share updates with you on some of the topics discussed at the listening sessions and with the Teacher Advisory Council.
Teacher pay was one of the top issues we discussed. Teachers said, and I agree, that the amount of pay is not where we would like to see it. The governor did say in his State of the State address last month that he was going to provide a 2 percent pay raise for teachers this year and that the state would put that funding into the teacher salary schedule. So, the question for me at the listening session was how we would see that increase locally. Please remember our Board of Education provided a 3 percent pay raise for all employees that started this school year, and the Board was so committed to being supportive of us that they even increased the millage rate in order to make that pay raise occur.
As additional revenue comes in, I am looking at different ways we could use funds to help everyone. The example I shared at the listening sessions was setting a goal as a district to reach a certain CCRPI, such as 70, and if the district made that goal of 70 then everyone would get a performance bonus. When I say everyone, I mean everyone – teachers, administrators, classified staff, including nutrition workers and bus drivers. Everyone. What we are missing is something that unifies us so we all know we are working toward the same goal. If our CCRPI is based on student attendance and discipline, as well as test scores, every person in our district affects our CCRPI. Bus drivers and their interactions with students help set the tone for the rest of the day. As they clean, custodians help make our facilities better so students are more comfortable in their environment. We take the cleanliness of the building for granted when it’s good, but when it’s bad we notice. We all play a part, so what if we put in place incentives so we all are working toward a specific goal?
Another example of this idea I shared was with the number of students missing more than 5 days of school. What if we set a goal of decreasing the number of students missing more than 5 days, and if we are able to achieve that goal, then everybody shares in a part of a bonus. The thought is, again, that bus drivers have an impact on how students feel, and so do custodians, paraprofessionals, media specialists, and so on.
If there is going to be a pay increase this year, we’re looking at trying to do something a little different so we all know what the major goals are that we’re trying to achieve and so we all will be working toward those goals to make us successful. I received an email after the listening sessions from a teacher who said she was disappointed with this idea because she thought an increase should go to everyone, not just the schools that received an increase on CCRPI. She misunderstood what I was saying. Again, I am looking at trying to create performance measures we all can be a part of and participate in achieving.
Another part of the discussion on teacher pay included being asked if employees could be paid twice a month. I have asked Human Resources, as well as Accounting, to see if there is a way we can provide employees with the option of being paid twice a month versus once a month. I know there are a lot of people who don’t want to be paid twice a month, but there are some who would like to be paid that way, so we are looking to see if MUNIS will allow there to be options. We have completed a survey of school systems throughout the state, and some pay all of their employees twice a month, without choice. We’re looking to see what MUNIS will allow us to do. Currently, we’re just trying to make sure we can get this first round of pay done correctly as we continue the transition to MUNIS.
A second issue discussed was about paper and resources. One teacher said she actually takes money from what she would put into the tithes at her church in order to buy paper. She said she was given 1,000 sheets for the year and that was not enough. I had a conversation with our Chief Financial Officer about finding out how much paper we are buying and how much we are providing, and trying to take that issue away from schools. We are currently looking at how schools divide paper and provide it to staff, how much paper is realistic, as well as the impact on the printers we have in place. I will say this, some people use a lot more paper than others, and we will take this on to see if we can find a resolution.
We also had conversations about class size. As we go through our budgeting process for next school year, we are looking at trying to reduce class sizes. Several teachers shared how many students they have in their classrooms and the numbers were high. The numbers are not as high as they have been in the past, but we are going to make an effort to reduce that number even more. Understand, though, I also had individuals ask if they could have paraprofessionals at first grade, some asked for more counselors, and so on. All of those “asks” end up becoming increases to the budget.
What I am really looking for is this: As schools go through their Continuous Improvement Process, they should prioritize what it is they need at their school and we will do our best to honor those requests. So, while we’re looking at trying to reduce class sizes and we’re looking at providing more paper, I need principals and leadership teams to say, “here is where we are in our annual review, here is what our needs are, and it is included in our needs assessment.” Then, present a plan that demonstrates how, if you get that resource, you will implement it and what the results would be. I am putting a lot of faith and confidence in you as a part of the Continuous Improvement Process and school leadership teams to tell me what it is that you need, and your needs have to be prioritized.
I want to close by thanking all of you for being a part of the listening sessions and working with us to improve communications, transparency and openness. At a recent Board of Education meeting, I heard some Board members use those words with us, and so I think our efforts are starting to work. I think we’re starting to see some results. The listening sessions were just one way for us to try to ensure that we have communication channels and that we’re able to determine what people are thinking. I started some of the sessions off by saying I was not going to let it be said that you didn’t have a chance to meet with me and share with me your thoughts and concerns, and do it without fear of retaliation. I think we’re getting better at that. I’m going to ask that you continue to step out on faith, believe in the Victory in Progress that we have and continue to help make us better.
I appreciate you. Thank you.
- COL DR
This photo is from the first listening session with elementary school staff.
Thank you to everyone who attended the sessions and shared your feedback.
The Holiday SpiritPosted by Dr. Curtis Jones Jr. on 12/20/2016 1:30:00 PM
Merry Christmas, everyone!
This will be my last opportunity to communicate with you this year, so from my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
As we come to an end of the first semester this year, I am thankful for the 12 years of service that Mr. Tom Hudson gave to our Board of Education and our school district. I am very thankful for the time that I was also able to work with Mr. Jason Downey. These two individuals are leaving our Board at the end of this calendar year and we owe them a great deal of thanks for their public service.
The Bibb County Board of Education was recognized as a Distinguished Board
by the Georgia School Boards Association this month. Pictured with me here
are, from left, President Lester Miller, Mr. Tom Hudson, Dr. Wanda West,
Vice President Jason Downey and Mrs. Ella Carter.
I also want to congratulate our Board of Education on being named a Distinguished Board of Education by the Georgia School Boards Association. That achievement is not small! It means each individual board member has to increase their number of hours of professional development. They have to abide by their by-laws and they have to continue to conduct self-assessments to meet the standards that have been established for the Board of Education, and evaluate the superintendent, just to name a few. Our Board has done those well. As our Board continues to grapple with issues of leading our school system and taking care of the finances and the legal matters of the district, I will tell you, it is not an easy task. They are continuing to work hard. As you hear people say things about our Board, whether positive or negative, please remember this – it is my sincere belief that collectively our Board does what it thinks is in the best interests of our students, and that is all we can ask.
As we close out this year, I know many of you are focused on the benchmark and progress assessments in place. These assessments are the best indication we have of knowing how well we are performing as a district. I will share with you that I am looking forward to the day when we are not really worried about Georgia Milestones; instead, we’re really worried about the assessments that we give because if we do well on those we know we will do well on the Georgia Milestones. We are getting there; we are just not there yet.
I joined Santa's helpers at Vineville Academy of the Arts to promote
Pre-K education last week before reading to Pre-K students at some
of our elementary schools. Pre-K registration begins in February!
I have had a few opportunities to be with schools before the end of the semester. Recently I saw “The Lion King Jr.,” a production by students from Miller Fine Arts Magnet Middle School. It was very impressive! We have some talented students, and I am excited for them and their families. I read “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault to Pre-K students at several elementary schools last week, and today I read “The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy” by Jane Thayer at Southfield Elementary School. I also shared a holiday meal prepared by our Culinary Program at Hutchings College and Career Academy today. I look forward to the opportunities like these to spend time in our schools throughout the year!
As we close out this year, let me say once again how happy I am to be a part of this school system and to have you as a part of it. I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
- COL DR