Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III has a multi-tiered imaginative and prescient for the upcoming faculty 12 months that seeks to extend neighborhood partnerships and parental engagement, places a basis in place for a schedule change for highschool college students, continues with efforts to draw and retain workers and addresses infrastructure points at colleges throughout the division.
Gordon, on the Suffolk School Board’s June 9 work session, mentioned he needs to extend assist for fogeys of particular training college students in Suffolk Public Schools by means of a assist group to fulfill 3 times per 12 months.
He additionally plans to determine transition groups to assist households of scholars as they put together to maneuver from elementary to center faculty (fifth to sixth grade) and from center faculty to highschool (eighth to ninth grade), and from highschool to varsity or the workforce. Chief Academic Officer Dr. Okeema Branch and new Chief of Schools Dr. Stenette Byrd will likely be main this effort.
Gordon mentioned he additionally needs to make it clearer for fogeys who they need to contact ought to points come up of their little one’s training, and checklist completely different workers members’ duties and tasks. For occasion, he mentioned, if they’ve an issue with a trainer, to contact that particular person by way of e mail, but additionally copy the principal on the e-mail.
The division additionally plans to assist dad and mom be extra proactive of their little one’s training by offering tutorial ideas and behavioral methods whereas serving to construct relationships with colleges and proceed to decrease disciplinary points.
The parental partnership program additionally will embody a schedule of occasions, whereas offering potential alternatives for them to be concerned by means of teaching, volunteering, parent-teacher associations and booster membership organizations.
Gordon famous that he plans to develop partnerships with metropolis companies to have extra of them providing internship alternatives for college kids. He identified the division’s 100% workforce readiness charges, “but kids have also lost hands-on experiences because of COVID, so let’s have a list of businesses that are already lined up that kind of match up with the fields that we’re offering at CCAP (College and Career Academy at Pruden) or for some of our other kids who want to do it because of Project Lead the Way.”
He mentioned there are plans to create a “community champions catalog” that lists particular neighborhood and monetary companions for the two,325 workers in SPS to patronize for varied companies. Many of them, he mentioned, already assist the varsity division, or assist particular person actions inside the division.
He has additionally had discussions with the Suffolk Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which supplied tutoring applications to college students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to develop their partnership with the varsity division.
“We feel with this community leadership, and this community champions plan, that we will have consistency throughout the city and one uniform message on supporting our kids,” Gordon mentioned.
On the educational facet, Gordon mentioned the SPS Summer Series has been successful and can proceed this summer time with its 4 applications – Summer Academy for intensive, focused assist and Standards of Learning remediation, continued conventional summer time faculty choices, a Summer Bridge program to introduce college students to new courses and a Summer Explore program the place college students are inspired to get out into the neighborhood.
He additionally outlined plans to shift to a four-by-four block schedule within the 2023-2024 faculty 12 months. He mentioned college students would take 4 courses per semester, and lecturers would train three, however famous that it might require further educational workers, as a result of college students will likely be taking eight courses per 12 months as an alternative of seven.
“This is the missing link, right here, to improving our graduation rates,” Gordon mentioned.
The commencement charges from 2020-2021 vary from 78.7% (down 5.7% from 2018-2019) at Lakeland High School, to 84% (down 6.6%) at King’s Fork High School and 92.9% (down 2.6%) at Nansemond River High School.
The four-by-four schedule would enable college students to take as much as 32 courses in highschool over 4 years and supply incentives for college kids to remain in class.
He mentioned it additionally would assist enhance the variety of college students who obtain superior diplomas, and cut back achievement gaps for particular training college students to permit them extra assist and assets. Additionally, it can assist with English Language Learners, or ELL, giving them extra time to grasp English and graduate on time.
Gordon plans to ask the varsity board to vote on it in October so the division has time put this in place. He mentioned he wished to place this in for this 12 months, however thought it may be “too much” popping out of the pandemic.
There additionally will likely be elevated alternatives for SPS workers skilled improvement, he mentioned, and mentioned some workers members had been challenged in returning to the classroom full-time after being in digital and hybrid codecs. He mentioned expertise needs to be a complement and constructed into the lesson plans, not essentially the first useful resource for lecturers.
The division plans to proceed with workers bonuses for brand new hires ($250) and hard-to-fill positions ($2,000) in areas equivalent to math and particular training. It plans to develop its attain to search out new workers.
Gordon mentioned the division will proceed to work by means of infrastructure points that embody repairing sinkholes at King’s Fork High School and including extra safety cameras on the division’s elementary colleges.
He mentioned the division is working with the town so as to add fiber infrastructure in a number of areas — from King’s Fork High to Elephant’s Fork Elementary, from John F. Kennedy Middle to Mack Benn Jr. Elementary, from Col. Fred Cherry Middle to Northern Shores Elementary and from Florence Bowser Elementary to John Yeates Middle.
He famous work to enhance the audio, video and lighting to the King’s Fork Middle auditorium, the Nansemond River fitness center and at Lakeland High.
Several colleges are getting their heating, air flow and air-con techniques changed this summer time, together with Elephant’s Fork Elementary and the Lakeland High and Nansemond River High gyms. Other HVAC repairs is deliberate for Mack Benn Jr. Elementary and Northern Shores.
“These are things that have to be done,” Gordon mentioned.
Design work additionally will start on a brand new John F. Kennedy Middle and the varsity administrative workplaces, together with portray, roof substitute and ground substitute at a number of colleges.
Work is ongoing on placing in Lakeland High’s turf area, and tracks are being changed in any respect three division excessive colleges.
Parking tons additionally will likely be resurfaced at Forest Glen Middle, John Yeates Middle, Lakeland and Nansemond River.
In addition, work is nearing completion for Lakeland’s Center for Performing and Production Arts, which can begin this fall, with lecture rooms and sound cubicles being accomplished this summer time. Next 12 months, plans name for its auditorium to be renovated.
There are also plans to switch the cellular unit decking at Kilby Shores Elementary and improve hearth panels at John F. Kennedy Middle. He mentioned discussions will start on increasing Northern Shores Elementary.
The division additionally plans to start its personal pharmacy in partnership with the CCAP pharmaceutical tech program. Gordon credited Chief Financial Officer Wendy Forsman for her position in implementing it. The pharmacy will likely be positioned in unused house within the division’s operations middle, which Gordon mentioned would enable workers to economize on prescriptions.
The board will obtain an up to date presentation in August, and Gordon hopes this system can start by January.
Board members who spoke on the assembly had been typically favorable of Gordon’s plans for the upcoming faculty 12 months. Lorita Mayo and Vice Chairwoman Phyllis Byrum spoke in favor of the four-by-four block scheduling, whereas Heather Howell supported the elevated internship alternatives. Byrum additionally supported the plans for the pharmacy, and Mayo spoke favorably of the assist techniques being added for college kids and households transitioning from elementary to center faculty, and center faculty to highschool.
“We can only get better,” Mayo mentioned, “and we can improve. And we’re always looking for ways to improve. Are we perfect? No. But we’re getting there. We’re addressing our students’ needs and that’s first and foremost what we need to do.”