The Lindbergh Board of Education voted unanimously last week to name 38 people to a committee that will review the district’s Comprehensive School Improvement Plan.
Committee members will review the district’s existing Comprehensive School Improvement Plan, or CSIP, and then either reaffirm or revise the school district’s philosophy, according to Rick Francis, assistant superintendent of personnel services.
“We are going to be looking at the foundation from which a CSIP is created. We’re going to be looking at the district vision, belief statements, core commitments and then description of a Lindbergh student … That is the basis on which we want to look how we’re going to address the key issues facing the district over the next five years,” the assistant superintendent told the Call.
Every school district in the state is required to formulate a five-year CSIP as part of the Missouri School Improvement Program. The plan sets the direction the district will take over the next five years by serving as a guide in making resource and process decisions designed to lead to improved student performance.
“For most school districts, it’s done every five years,” Francis said. “Our last CSIP went six years as I asked the CSIP Committee to stretch it one more year so that we had a new five-year plan with a new superintendent.”
Former Superintendent Jim Sandfort retired June 30 and was succeeded by current Superintendent Jim Simpson, who began his duties July 1.
“It didn’t make a lot of sense to me to have a superintendent that was going to only be here one more year to be part of the five-year plan,” he explained.
During the Sept. 9 Board of Education meeting, President Ken Fey said to Francis, “… It looks like you have a good group of people already picked out and ready to go.”
Francis said, “We’ve tried to balance it where we have approximately the same number of staff members as we do parents.”
Vice President Vic Lenz’s motion to appoint the 38 to the CSIP Planning Committee was seconded by board member Mark Rudoff and unanimously approved.
Among those named to the committee were Fey, Simpson, Francis and other administrators and teachers while the parent representatives primarily are PTO and club presidents.
During a meeting scheduled Monday night — after the Call went to press — CSIP Planning Committee members will break into small groups to discuss the district’s vision, belief statements, core commitments and the description of a Lindbergh student. The entire committee then will reconvene and discuss what course to take, Francis told the Call.
“… Based upon revisions or additions or modifications to our beliefs and our vision and so forth, then we will work together to create really what becomes the umbrella of all these things, which is the mission statement of the district,” he said. “… It will be interesting. I don’t know whether the committee will say: Gosh, it served us well. Look at what we’ve accomplished over the last six years. Let’s leave it alone or let’s tweak it or let’s completely have a new one. It will be interesting to see.”
In October, after making its recommendation to the Board of Education, the committee will ask board members “to commission a much larger group to really look at the key issues facing the district over five years,” Francis said, noting roughly 150 to 200 people participated the last time the district adopted its CSIP.
Those selected for that larger group will be asked to provide their input “into what are the key issues facing our district as we look out on the horizon and see what we need to be working on. And then we will have a ‘state-of-the-union’ address kind of in the auditorium where we’ll kind of be informing the 150 to 200 people: ‘Well, here’s where we’re at with our academics. Here’s where we’re at with our facilities. Here’s where we’re at with finances and be giving them information verbally as well as information in a packet so they can kind of study and know well, here’s where we’re at, but gosh, maybe we’re not where we need to be technology-wise in the future. And so those will be conversations that are going on …”
As those different conversations are put together, Francis said, “You start to get pictures like: Gosh, we’ve got an area of finance or technology or whatever that we need to work on. And then it will be the administration that has to come up with the strategies that we think will help us to meet the goals that the community is telling us we need to be working toward.”
The CSIP process will continue until next spring, he said.
Besides outlining what goals a school district wants to achieve, Simpson told the Call that a CSIP specifies how those goals will be reached.
“… CSIP documents are basically a blueprint of here’s what we want to achieve and not only do we want to achieve these things, but here is how we are going to achieve these things. So where board goals traditionally in most districts are more far-reaching, holistic statements — here’s what we’d like to do with attendance or whatever it might be, facilities — the CSIP then gets down and says: ‘Yes, but here are our implementation actions of what we’re going to accomplish and here’s our milestones mapped out so we’ll know if we’re really on this journey successfully …,” he said.
Work to formulate the existing CSIP began in the fall of 2002 when district officials examined state CSIP models and created a committee to review the Lindbergh belief, vision and mission statements, which led to a new mission statement that was adopted by the board: “To develop competent and caring graduates through exceptional programs and services.”
In early 2003, 13 committees were established to examine strategic issues facing the district. The committees brought forward 130 issues, grouped into six strategic areas: student performance, staff, finance, technology, facilities and safety. The strategic issues were further studied to develop goals and strategies designed to significantly improve student performance and character education.
The Board of Education voted in August 2003 to approve the existing CSIP.
In a separate matter last week, Simpson reported that the district’s enrollment increased by 61 students over last year.
“And 61 doesn’t sound like that many, but I think of it in classrooms,” he said. “That’s three classrooms of students that we’ve added and actually it’s good to grow.
“It’s not good to grow too fast, but 61 students is certainly something we can handle this year and we’ll keep our pulse upon that to see how the demographics are working out in the future …”
Rudoff later noted that the district’s voluntary transfer enrollment has declined by more than 300 students since 2004 while enrollment for the district’s Program for Exceptionally Gifted Students “is at its highest level ever.”
“… Those are two factors that don’t necessarily offset one other, but they just are worthy of note, and the number of students attending is increasing with local enrollment from students who actually live in the district,” he said.
Simpson said, “That’s correct.”