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Superintendent’s Update

Posted September 25, 2012 in Community Blogs, Norwalk

Norwalk Schools are identified as one of Iowa’s “Top 100 Workplaces”:
Norwalk School was honored by our selection as one of “Iowa’s Top 100 Workplaces”.  Norwalk appeared in the “midsized” companies division of the award.  Last year, Norwalk  teachers nominated Norwalk Schools for an award called “Iowa’s Top 100 Workplaces”.   A company named WorkDynamics administered an electronic survey to all participants for that award.   Over 53,000 Iowans received those same surveys.  The results of the survey were then analyzed by “WorkplaceDynamics”.   The results appeared in the September 23, Sunday Des Moines Register.    There were 3 categories, based on the size of the organization.  Public and private were mixed as were for-profit and nonprofits.   Of the schools nominated, only six schools made the final lists.

The Six Iowa Schools selected for the “Top Workplaces” list:
Johnston Schools and Waukee Schools made the list in “Large Company”    The top five in large company were Edward Jones, Veridian, Go Daddy, Pell Health Center and EMC Insurance
Algona Schools, Washington Community Schools and Norwalk Schools made the “Mid-sized Company List”.  Top 5 were U of I Credit Union, Fort Madison Hospitals, Palmer Care Center, Van Meter Inc., Clarke Hospital
Only Audubon Schools made the “Small Employers” list (perhaps because there were so many entrants in the “small” category).  Top five were TS Bank, Banno, Noel-Levitz, ReMax Real Estate, Iowa State Bank.
This result speaks volumes about the relationships between all staff and administrators/directors, staff and families, and especially between staff and their colleagues.  Your teaming, loyalty to each other and strong work ethic are the envy of many other “mid-size companies” around Iowa.  Three characteristics are consistently found in the descriptors provided by the employees about these “Top Iowa Workplaces”:
1.     Direction:  Employees have emotionally “bought into” what the organization is striving to achieve.
2.     Execution: The company has a high-performance culture.
3.    Connection: Employees feel they are being appreciated for doing something meaningful.

Thanks to our certified and classified staff for building strong relationships with students, parents, administration/directors and especially with each other!  You work harder each year, with less time, to move student achievement and provide quality services to our students.  It is gratifying to see you receive the recognition that you have earned.

Taskforce helps to shape Iowa education:
Well, things have been moving very quickly in our state this year.  I am a member of the Governor’s Taskforce no Teacher Performance, Compensation and Career Development.  Our report is finishing soon.  It has the potential to change and improve the profession.  Here is the charge given to the taskforce by the Iowa Senate:

Senate File 2284

The Teacher Performance, Compensation, and Career Development Task Force was established in Senate File 2284 and given the following charge:

1.      The director of the department of education shall appoint, and provide staffing services for, a teacher performance, compensation, and career development task force to develop recommendations for a new teacher compensation system to replace the current teacher compensation system which addresses, at a minimum, the following:

a.       Duties and responsibilities of apprentice, career, mentor, and master teachers.

b.      Utilizing retired teachers as mentors.

c.  Strategic and meaningful uses of finite resources and the realignment of resources currently available.

d.  Mechanisms to substantially increase the average salary of teachers who assume leadership roles within the profession.

e.  Standardizing implementation of task force recommendations in all of Iowa’s school districts and public charter schools.

2.      The task force shall also propose a peer coaching pilot project to expand excellence in the teaching profession. The proposal shall include recommendations for peer coaching criteria goals, strategies, documentation of progress, incentives for participation, and program evaluation.
While Senate File 2284 established the Task Force in code, the group was initially established on February 15, 2012 as the Taskforce on Teacher Leadership and Compensation.
A blueprint for education released by the Branstad-Reynolds administration in October 2011 included plans to redesign educator career pathways, to create teacher leadership roles and to revise the compensation structure to support this new educator career structure.  Because changes that involve compensation in education generate large cost implications and many questions, the Branstad-Reynolds administration’s final recommendations for world-class schools called for a taskforce to study the career structure and compensation plan in 2012.  The group’s work began before the end of the legislative session because of the importance of moving forward on these issues.

Time for Professional Development:
It is easy to see that there will be many changes in store for Iowa education.  Some of these may be funded, many may not be funded.  Norwalk Schools will be conducting a study of our present professional development initiatives.  We are performing an inventory of all the strategies we use for college and work readiness, middle school concept, early childhood education, graduation requirements, cooperative learning, implementing our curriculum with fidelity, purchasing texts that are approved by the national  “What Works Clearinghouse”, when available, meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind, complete the state required District Professional Development Plans, Building Professional Development Plans and Individual Teacher Professional Development Plans, and dozens of other initiatives, mandated by law.   We are sorting and categorizing each of these initiatives to determine the necessity and viability on student achievement of each.  We will be concentrating on which we need to keep, toss or start.  We will keep you informed of these results.

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