Superintendent addresses changes at Bayfield schools

By Troy D. Zabel

Dear Bayfield parents, guardians and community members,

I hope you have had an excellent summer with time for relaxation and recharging your batteries. The district has been busy with hiring, construction and improvements, technology and program upgrades, and building/grounds preparation. I'm sure your summer has been equally busy, but I hope you took time to pause, take a deep breath, and really appreciate this wonderful part of the world we live in.

In my welcome back letter last year I referenced progress made toward the comprehensive District Strategic Plan. As a reminder, this plan was developed with the input of over 50 community members who devoted countless hours of work in its development. This year we will continue our work to accomplish strategic plan goals and others that have been identified through assessment data and the Unified Improvement Planning process. Another focus based on the results of our District Advisory and Accountability Committee survey is the improvement of communication.

Here are a few highlights of the progress made throughout the last school year and this summer:

. Teacher training in research-proven math and literacy models;

. Hiring of a math coach and a math interventionist at the elementary level;

. Addition of mobile computer/Chromebook labs at every grade level within the district;

. Hiring of technology/engineering teacher and a health sciences teacher at the high school;

. Addition of an orchestra course at the middle school;

. Computer lab upgrade at the middle school;

. Implementation of additional special education programs at the elementary and middle schools;

. Remodeling of the high school office and installation of a security entry system - this completes security entrances at all of our schools within the district;

. Construction of a new performing arts wing, auxiliary gymnasium and baseball stadium;

. Upgrades to the primary school playground;

. Adjustment of salary schedules to remain competitive in staff recruitment;

. Implementation of an emergency notification system;

. Change in the role of the school nurse enabling full time staffing of health aides at each school site; and

. Development of a comprehensive staff mentoring program.

Our continued progress towards meeting our goals necessitates a strong partnership between our staff, students, parents and the community. I invite you to become involved. Each building, as well as the district, has accountability teams and other committees that welcome your participation. Contact your individual school or the district office to ask how you can join.

This year we have once again seen mixed results on state assessments. We have experienced double-digit gains in several grades and content areas contrasted by a decline in growth in others. Your school professionals take student assessment results, both good and bad, very personally. I am proud of our staff and their continued commitment to becoming a system of excellence, and am confident as we strengthen our formative assessment processes and instructional practices to build systems that are immediately responsive to the needs of all kids, we will see positive academic, social, and emotional growth in all of our students.

Finally, we have a revised calendar for the 2014-2015 school year. This version does not have any significant changes from what was sent out to you at the end of last year. We have added the dates of open house for each of the sites, clarified our kindergarten start and end dates, and had to move one of our late start (PLC) days due to a conflict.

Troy D. Zabel is superintendent of the Bayfield School District.