Schools improve under five-year strategic planBy Christian Avard
Staff Writer | February 11,2013SPRINGFIELD — Things are looking up in the Springfield School District, according to a recent presentation of its five-year strategic plan.
Outgoing Superintendent of Schools Frank Perotti presented the School Board some good news last week about the district.
Perotti and dozens of stakeholders developed a strategic plan to improve educational opportunities for elementary, middle and high school students. The strategic plan was approved in September 2009 and had six goals: To achieve a 100 percent high school graduation rate, make capital improvements, provide students with additional academic support, develop individualized learning plans, enhance support structures for educators, and strengthen school and community connections.
One of the plan’s biggest accomplishments is more graduates and fewer dropouts. According to Perotti, the high school’s four-year graduation rate improved from 67 percent in 2008 to 75 percent in 2012 and is in line with state graduation requirements.
“Our dropout rate in 2008-2009 was 10.15 percent. In the last two years, that rate went down to 7 percent,” Perotti said.
Improvements also included new playgrounds at Elm Hill Primary and Union Street Elementary Schools, transferring the North School property to an organization for conservation purposes, and establishing a joint committee made up of School Board and Select Board members to determine the best usage for the now vacant Park Street Building. Perotti said advisers now work with Riverside Middle School and high school students to develop personal learning plans. He also said Windsor Community Partners provides mentoring to students during and after school.
According to Perotti, staff development opportunities are increasing, access to new technologies is improving, and turnover of faculty and staff has is going down. School and community connections have also improved through a variety of means, he said.
Literacy, math and science coaches are available at the high school. Riverside Middle School offers more in math and language arts classes.
The middle school now has standard-based report cards as well. The new grading system at Riverside has improved student performance, Perotti said.
Math and reading instruction has also improved at the Union Street Elementary School, effective academic monitoring of students is in place, and teachers are using game-based language programs to enhance student learning. At Elm Hill, there are math, writing and reading labs and new social-based programs for early learning. Seclusion rooms, a concern raised by parents last year, are not longer used, Perotti said.
Springfield schools still have room for improvement, but according to Perotti, the school district is much better off today than it was before it had a strategic plan in place.
“I don’t expect it to be complete, but we’ve made a lot of progress moving forward and we have a lot to be proud of,” Perotti said.
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