to Holland Elementary School
March 31, 2014
As we approach April 15, the date for the revote of the Holland School budget, I would like to provide you with two documents that will help to inform your voting decision. The attached letter, originally from former board chair Diana Limlaw, explains areas of increase in the budget, with explanations for those increases. This letter highlights significant changes that have been made this year by the administration and the teachers to improve instruction at Holland Elementary School.
1.) Large blocks of instructional time were created in the schedule for math and language arts
· The time allotted to math and language arts instruction have been increased
· One teacher is participating in a course with Vermont Math Institute with other teachers in the supervisory union and bringing back that learning to the faculty.
· We are working to evaluate the components of the math and language arts programs to ensure the critical components are present in each content area across the grades and aligning them to the Common Core State Standards.
2.) Frequent participation in professional development through the supervisory union and through workshops outside the supervisory union offerings
Professional development is critical to staying current with educational trends at large, those within one’s own content area, and for learning the new Common Core State Standards.
3.) Residencies in math, literacy, and special education provided by the supervisory union coaches
Former supervisory union teachers, who are now hired as literacy, math, and special education coaches, work with teachers across the SU for one and two week intensive studies. Teachers create specific instructional goals for the residency and the coaches help guide teachers as they work to meet those goals and improve instruction in those areas. Instructional coaching is similar to athletic coaching: no matter our ability as athletes or teachers, there are always areas to improve upon and to refine.
4.) Responsive Classroom Training
The Responsive Classroom approach consists of highly practical strategies for integrating social and academic learning into the school day. It provides ways to manage student behavior while also proactively teaching children how to interact socially. This approach includes modeling expectations, providing logical consequences, and helping children make good choices. By June, all faculty and many staff will be trained in Responsive Classroom.
5.) Resource Purchases
We are also looking at our resources within the school in reading and writing and making some specific purchases that will focus on word work, grade and instructional level reading and writing, and those materials that will help us meet the Common Core State Standards
We are creating a process for identifying students who need intervention in specific academic areas and providing those interventions with the staff that we have.
7.) Reading Data Wall
Teachers have created a data wall that tracks reading assessments. We are also creating a process for looking at this data to effectively guide instruction.
8.) Grade Level Meetings with the Special Educator
We have created dedicated weekly meetings between the special educators and the grade level teachers to discuss students who are receiving special services. The goal for these meetings is to help teachers effectively serve students in the classroom and review student accommodations on a regular basis.
9.) Common Planning Time
The schedule includes common planning time for most teachers, allowing them to collaborate on instruction within grades and across grades.
As we move into next year, there will be a continued focus on school improvement. Kindergarten will increase to a full-day program, classes will be combined differently to provide a more even teacher to student ratio, scheduling will continue to be child-centered in order to best meet the needs of students, and there will be an increased focus on pre-K to grade 6 best instructional practices. The proposed budget will support these continued improvements and student needs.
As always, if you have questions regarding what is happening at the school or with specifics about the budget, please contact me or a board member. Any of us will be happy to hear your concerns and answer your questions.
Finally, included you will also find instructions explaining how to register to vote and the voting procedure for either absentee voters or for those voting on April 15.
Kelli Dean, Principal