Saugerties Central School District (SCSD) Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt last week unveiled details of a strategic planning initiative designed to help all students become successful. The plan hinges on six different tenets.
For the first time since coming to the Saugerties Central School District at the start of the 2019-20 school year, Reinhardt has an opportunity to look ahead. The global COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person learning just six months into Reinhardt’s first academic year in Saugerties, and much of the district’s focus ever since has been about keeping students engaged and safe, whether in the classroom or learning remotely from home. While the pandemic is ongoing, the SCSD opened its doors to all students for in-person learning last week, giving school officials an opportunity to look ahead.
“Everything focuses around student achievement, culture, climate, community and safety and security,” said Reinhardt during a presentation at a meeting of the Board of Education held on Tuesday, September 14. “Our goal is to provide that in an academic situation where students can succeed academically, socially and emotionally.”
Reinhardt also shared a vision for a highly effective school, which begins with a focus on literacy.
“Literacy, that’s a human right,” Reinhardt said. “We believe that everything we do starts with literacy. We’re really focusing on the next couple of years on a very strong district wide K-12 literacy program.”
Also included in the vision for a highly effective school are student engagement, and social and emotional learning.
“That’s very important after the pandemic,” said Reinhardt of meeting a student’s needs beyond academics. “I want to thank the Board for supporting our increase in social workers. Now we have a social worker in every elementary school and we now have two at the junior-senior high campus.”
Diversity, equity and inclusion are also part of the vision for a highly effective school, Reinhardt said, as are college and career readiness. And to help achieve those goals, the district will seek input from a wide range of stakeholders through targeted committees, including district leadership teams (DLT) and building leadership teams (BLT).
“We want to make sure that we have faculty on these committees — we have parents, we have students and community members, business owners, community officials and community professionals,” Reinhardt said.
Reinhardt’s six tenets include systems and organization, school leadership, curriculum, instruction, social-emotional learning and parent and community engagement.
“As we work through our strategic plan, we want to make sure that these components are part of everything we do,” Reinhardt said.
Tenet 1, systems and organization will seek to establish school-wide systems and structures that promote continuous improvement and success for all students through meetings, data systems and dashboards and an increased online application designed to engage all community stakeholders.
Tenet 2, school leadership will review indicators like student completion on advanced placement (AP), accelerated and collegiate course work; student growth on state assessments, and local and iReady diagnostic assessments, and the graduation rate. It will also look at behavioral and disciplinary trends in an effort to help those students who are in danger of slipping through the academic cracks.
“We should always be looking at our tardies, our lates, our suspensions,” Reinhardt said. “(And) look for disproportion, look for any type of numbers, any type of red flags to find out how we’re serving the needs of all of our students.”
Tenet 3 is curriculum-oriented, which will include deep dives into grade level and department meeting data, curriculum mapping and pacing guide work and revisions. It will also seek to ensure consistency in curriculum across all four of the district’s elementary schools.
“We want to make sure our curriculum is rigorous, our curriculum is relative to students sitting in front of us and our curriculum is meaningful,” Reinhardt said. “And we want to make sure we provide opportunities for our students to know why they’re doing the learning, not just because it was in a textbook.”
Tenet 4, instruction, shows that “(e)ffective teachers engage with students in a manner that promotes mastery and allows students to stretch their knowledge and deepen their understanding,” and will include increased opportunities for alternative assessment, and professional development of small group instruction and student engagement.
Tenet 5’s focus on social-emotional learning includes similar reviews to those in Tenet 2, plus DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) reports, progress monitoring, and anonymous alerts data.
“Effective schools develop a systematic approach to social-emotional learning to ensure that all students can develop social-emotional learning skills necessary for success within and beyond school,” said Reinhardt.
And Tenet 6 includes parent and community involvement through parent surveys, attendance at DLT and BLT committee meetings and districtwide town halls, and engagement through parent portal accounts.
“Effective schools develop a systematic approach to family and community engagement to empower parents to effectively advocate for their child’s learning and for the improvement of the school,” said Reinhardt.
The next meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for Tuesday, October 12, and will be held at Grant D. Morse Elementary School.