District 13 Superintendent Constance Evelyn announced at District 13’s Board of Education meeting on Nov. 28 that the district has completed about 30 percent of the work it outlined in its strategic plan last year.
“We’re well down the path of achieving many of the goals that are identified in this plan,” she said.
The goals of the plan include enhancing science, technology, engineering and math programming; enhancing the social studies curriculum; focusing on the connection between learning and a student’s emotions; increasing programs and services for special education students and updating the district’s facilities and security systems. The district decided to focus on these goals, Evelyn said, as a result of a community survey that was completed in 2014.
As part of the district’s efforts to enhance STEM education, Evelyn said, the district is keeping parents updated on STEM projects via its website www.valleystream13.com. To enhance the social studies curriculum, students are using new computer programs designed to make them more civically active. She said that teachers in the district would undergo further training to enhance the social studies curriculum over the summer.
“We have a lot of work planned to focus on this particular area,” she said.
The district also enacted Yale University’s RULER Program last year to teach students how to understand their emotions. As part of the program, students created a ‘mood meter’ to describe how they are feeling with a variety of vocabulary words last year. At the beginning of this year, classes in the district developed a classroom charter to detail how the students would like to feel in the classroom. According to Evelyn, this emotional learning helps students learn. “If you can’t manage your emotions in an adequate manner, then you’re not available for learning,” she said.
To improve the district’s special education programming, it increased its amount of integrated classrooms, which consists of special needs students and non-special needs students with an integrated special education teacher to provide specialized instruction, from four full-time integrated classrooms to 19 full-time integrated classrooms and 12 half-day integrated classrooms.
Funds from a 2014 $32 million bond are being used to improve the district’s facilities, Evelyn said. She said the district is in “phase 2A” of the bond work, which includes repairs to windows, doors and new wiring for a new public address system and a new security system. The first part of the bond work was completed last year and consisted of repairs to buildings exteriors.
“We have a long way to go in terms of completing the bond, and we have at least a couple more years worth of work,” Evelyn said. “But it is well under way and we’re very pleased with the work that has been done thus far.”
The district is also using funds from a 2014 New York State bond, the Smart School Bond, to fund upgrades to the school’s security systems. So far, the district has put out a request for proposals for a lockdown system, police integration system, identification card access to the buildings and interior and exterior cameras. They are also assessing the projected enrollments at each school to determine how best to use facilities, and are expecting a report in February.
“We’ve actually done something in all the areas we outlined,” Evelyn said.
For more information on the plan, call the district at (516) 568-6100.