SAU# 34’s ROLE IN CREATING THE VISION FOR A HIGH QUALITY EDUCATION SYSTEM
Transformation—High Quality—Our Challenge—Goals Driven—Recognition and Support
Who has the authority? Where are we going? What is our role? Where do we fit? How do we know? What should be our relationships? These questions are asked often by central office staff when we think about SAU# 34’s role in providing services and leadership to our four schools. This position paper outlines my views on the changing roles and responsibilities of your central office administrators.
In some instances, the changes discussed below represent a fundamental paradigm shift in the relationship between schools and the central office staff in Hillsboro.
What are these changes?
Change is a constant stimulus to growth and improvement. Central office administrators are helping three districts and four schools in their continuous improvement planning.
The central office has become the service center for schools. We are responsible to four school boards, the state department of education, and to four communities. However, the primary means of quality assurance is providing expert assistance to each school.
Central office administrators are spending more time planning and assisting improvement teams throughout the districts, acting upon invitation as "brokers" of central office services.
All district staff need to have ongoing, well-designed training/staff development. Board members also need to have ongoing training, and we can provide it.
The restructuring of central office roles and responsibilities in order to serve a new vision of schooling requires skill, patience, and persistence.
What do we need to do?
We need to embrace the Hillsboro-Deering’s District Education Improvement Plan (DEIP) as a long-range plan for the entire system—central office, departments and individual schools—the constancy of purpose must be clear to all.
We must become the source of the most timely and accurate information to stay on the cutting edge.
We must predict school districts’ needs for their improvement efforts to be successful. We need to be student centered and proactive.
We need to build relationships with school staff by being available and demonstrating a sincere commitment to assist schools in achieving their improvement plans. We must act as the "friendly critic" to provide essential feedback.
We need to recognize the efforts of all district and school leadership teams. From thank you notes to luncheons, we must positively reinforce and celebrate the successful efforts of others.
We must ensure that all services are of high quality. If the central office is incapable of providing the best resource, then better service must be found and a rationale provided. In addition, we need to generate new services to offer, like late buses and summer school proposed for next year.
We must refuse to do some things if we cannot provide high quality service.
As generalists, we must develop our facilitation skills in helping individuals and schools solve problems and deal with issues related to change.
We must help schools give up something. We must ask the question, "What are we now doing that we can stop doing so we can do what we need to do?" We need to produce high quality results. Let’s stop doing things that don’t work!
Summary: Your administrators at the central office possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes to support a new vision of schooling and can provide valued support to the schools they serve. We can be the enablers, the visionary facilitators in the improvement process.
How should we bring about this paradigm shift from authority and control to facilitation and service? The good news is that SAU# 34 has already made strides in systemic planning and this change process over the last few years. District wide committees/teams are planning and providing for continuous improvement in several areas.
We need to have a bold new mission for SAU# 34. We are visionary and courageous enough to make substantive changes in the ways we educate children. Therefore, I recommend that SAU# 34’s mission statement must be a composite of all four schools’ and districts’ statements:
The SAU# 34, consisting of the communities of Windsor, Washington, Hillsboro, and Deering, is committed to providing high quality administrative and educational support to all schools. The purpose of this support is to ensure that all students in these communities receive a high quality education. This mission will be articulated through the leadership of the superintendent of schools and his administrative team.
Now, we need to agree on the major goals of this effort. These should be widely supported and reinforced at all levels. We are focusing on five broad goals to help align school-based improvement efforts in achieving district and school goals.
SAU# 34’s Challenge:
Revitalize the curriculum and instructional methods and programs to improve students’ academic performance:
Maximize the operational efficiency of school facilities and improve the effectiveness of all educational programs;
Focus energy on ensuring high quality staff;
Pursue partnerships within our four communities to enhance students’ educational opportunities; and
Use the best thinking of educational research and practice to improve learning for all students.
We are already doing much in regard to the above goals--capital improvement plans; middle level restructuring plans, staff development programs, decentralized decision-making, special education task force and programs, collaborative leadership teams, school accountability programs, student and staff recognition and communications are illustrative of our work to meet these goals.
Furthermore, we must hold building level transformational leaders accountable to implement district improvement programs and to work collaboratively with their colleagues. District-wide teams must include students, parents, and support personnel. We must make decisions in light of our values and stated goals and objectives.
We must design budgets that are educationally sound and fiscally responsible as we transform and improve our schools. We must meet the anticipated needs of our children in the 21st century, and to do so effectively and cost efficiently. Our focus must remain on improving student achievement by clearly communicating and expecting continuous improvement by all, aiming at the DEIP, setting aligned school goals, and helping schools provide high quality service.
The superintendent and other district leaders must continue in their efforts to facilitate and coordinate resources. Individual school, team and/or program improvement plans, however, must be developed collaboratively with leadership. There must be alignment throughout the districts for systemic development and high quality service. If we work collaboratively toward our missions and goals, we can create synergy that can propel us to new levels of performance—to exceed the expectations of our communities.
We have a good start and many components are in place, but much work remains. This position paper attempts to explain my vision of the transformational role of leadership and our developing relationships with the districts’ schools. The challenge in SAU# 34 is to provide every student with a high quality and efficient education, not merely an adequate one. We believe that all stakeholders will recognize and support our achievements when this happens.
Thank you for your thoughtful feedback and understanding of these powerful concepts. Feedback is always appreciated and will help us improve services to schools. The systemic model attached incorporates all of the above ideas and diagrams an evolving vision. Its best use can be as a decision screen for our action planning and decision making. Please consider, these powerful ideas can drive us toward exceptionally high performing schools. It is time for us to proceed.
Thank you for your support.
Leo P. Corriveau, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools, SAU #34
School Administrative Unit No. 34 is a publicly funded organization
No. of Schools: 4
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