MEEKER I On July 1, his first day working for the school district, new Meeker Superintendent of Schools Chris Selle submitted an anonymous survey questionnaire to the district staff. He described the survey as being informal, having only four open-ended questions to which respondents could write as little or as much as they wanted.
Selle indicated this was part of his effort to learn more, in-depth, about the Meeker School District, about its strengths as well as the challenges.
Selle reviewed his responses in late July after receiving completed surveys from 38 staff members, and he emailed his summary back to the staff.
On the question of what Selle could do to support teacher endeavors to educate Meeker students, the most emphasized result was increased communication. Other significant replies noted the need for providing meaningful and consistent teacher professional development, focusing on the positives of Meeker and Meeker education, ensuring any new initiatives are thoughtful and consistent, and generally supporting the teaching staff.
Regarding what the teaching staff feels the district already does well, respondents overwhelmingly stated that the staff focuses on caring for and teaching the students. The staff further emphasized that they see themselves as strong and dedicated, and that they tend to focus on the “whole child.”
In describing the challenges faced by the district, responding staff stressed the issue of “broken trust” between teachers and administration (i.e., internally) and with the community. Respondents also identified problems with “loud and negative public voices,” instability of the administration, the lack of communication, focus being on adults rather than students, and funding.
On the fourth question simply soliciting other information, the staff again mentioned the need to focus on the positive, ensure open lines of communication and focusing on the kids, not adults. In addition, the importance of the superintendent being present and visible in the community, developing a shared vision, changing the practice of teacher oversight by classroom walk-throughs or “learning walks,” and the need to treat people with respect were mentioned.
These questions and the results must have been on Selle’s mind when he met with the Meeker Board of Education in its retreat workshop July 24. Discussing goals for the superintendent was a primary board objective for their workshop. The draft areas for the superintendent’s goals now are communication, public relations, student learning and the strategic plan.
In the subject area of communication, Selle’s goal is to improve communication with the district staff by delivering weekly email updates and conducting further staff surveys designed to specifically get feedback on communication.
Regarding public relations, Selle is to increase community communications and enhance public understanding. In pursuit of this goal, Selle intends to join at least one local service organization, submit at least a monthly article to the newspaper and post it on social media, be present at home extracurricular activities and seek opportunities to engage the public.
Selle’s goal regarding student learning is to improve student achievement results. To do so, he intends to provide monthly data regarding attendance patterns, develop guidelines to improve attendance by Oct. 1, and establish a baseline on student learning in a report to the board by Nov. 1.
With regard to the district’s strategic plan, the goal is to update the plan. Selle plans to review the current plan with the District Leadership Team, engage the community through forums and focus groups by March, identify volunteers to help analyze collected input by February, and deliver an updated plan to the board by June.
These are Selle’s draft goals and proposed actions coming out of the July 24 board retreat. They are to be discussed for approval by the board at an upcoming meeting. Any public response to these goals and objectives would best be given to Selle or the board now.