As superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, I am proud and grateful to be part of our amazing school district team. I am also grateful for the partnership we have with our families and community to make rich teaching and learning happen every day for our students. With a new year beckoning at the door, it is a good time to reflect on the year that is ending and look forward to the year ahead. Reflections include reviewing accomplishments as well as considering areas for improvement.
•grateful for the many people who volunteer in our schools every day and for the community organizations that are so generous with their time and resources.
•proud of the steady progress we are making to fully implement our Strategic Plan. The District Strategic Plan is focused on increasing performance in four goal areas: 1. Student Learning and Achievement, 2. Safe and Caring Environment, 3. Resource Stewardship, and 4. Parent and Community Partnerships.
•proud that the district graduation rate has climbed to an all-time high of 90%. This has been a steady increase over the last three years. We have increased opportunities and the number of pathways to support student graduation success.
•grateful for the parents and community members who serve on the Facilities Advisory Committee. These individuals have deeply grappled with the facilities needs across the district and thoughtfully made recommendations to meet those needs.
•proud of the commitment we are making to address safety and security needs using a comprehensive approach. This involves looking at both internal and external safety considerations including facility design, safety equipment needs, professional development and social-emotional/behavioral support. •grateful for the parents, students, and community members who serve on our district committees to help us make better decisions.
•proud that we are prioritizing our resources to benefit student learning. Highlights of our positive stewardship include decreased utility costs, clean financial and program audits, the purchase of 10 new buses and a plan to buy more over the next three years, a fund balance well within the approved policy requirements, school supplies provided for all students, and this year, the elimination of student athletic fees.
•grateful for our wonderful staff. They help ensure success for each student. Our teacher retention rates are high and the average years of experience for teaching staff continues to increase.
In 2020, we need more voices to help us make better decisions. This year, we added Community Voices where parents and community members come together to share celebrations, consider improvements, and ask where do we want the school district to be in five years. Please consider sharing your feedback. If you would like to participate, please contact Julie Davis at 360-618-6202.
Chrys Sweeting is superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, which runs a monthly column in this newspaper.