Central Administration Updates, News, and Events
January is School Board Recognition Month
In honor of the commitment and time that school board directors dedicate to our schools and communities all year long, January is designated “School Director Recognition Month.” The work of these public servants is vital to the success of our students and schools. School board directors’ work is complex and diverse. From voting on budgets to adopting policy to conducting comprehensive planning, school boards make key decisions that drive public education. The IASD Board of Directors have worked tirelessly to make sure hope and opportunity have been at the forefront of their leadership over the past five years.
The Board of Directors have led in a manner in which their principles are followed by their practices by consistently reinforcing a positive culture of service, respect, and support for ALL students, faculty, and staff, while preparing students to work in a diverse world through a variety of career exploration opportunities for students. Furthermore, through their leadership, the District has placed an emphasis on the academic performance of all students by creating a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) for our students in the areas of academic, behavior, and social-emotional learning that personalizes the programming to meet each student exactly where they are by providing unwavering support to all.
The Board of Directors have also made a commitment to increase rigor and college/career readiness at the high school, middle school, and elementary levels. By creating an educational environment within every classroom that prioritizes exposure to a diverse range of postsecondary options, real-world applicability of content and skills, problem-based learning, and the acquisition of soft skills, learning will become more meaningful and motivating to students and increase their marketability. The Board has worked with the administration to create and implement Career Pathways in the high school as well as increase the number of offerings for Dual Enrollment and/or College in High School programming. This includes a 110% increase in the number of dual enrollment courses available at IHS. Additionally, through strategic leadership and use of EITC funds, IASD paid for 100% tuition costs for those students enrolled in dual enrollment through our partnership with the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This represents a significant investment in our students, community, and our future while saving our families a considerable amount of money in these difficult times. The IASD Board of Directors have and will continue to place the needs of our students first.
The IASD Board of Directors have led, guided, and directed a multitude of events/products as they relate to making the community aware of District events, news, and related educational outcomes. This includes having community residents and students have a voice on a variety of our committees in our governmental structure. One of the most important strides the IASD Board has made is to empower student voice in our decision-making as well as improving the climate and culture within our hallways. The IASD Board of Directors have authorized and encouraged the Superintendent of Schools to meet on a monthly basis with representatives from the high school and junior high to hear from the student’s perspectives on what is working in our schools and what we can do to improve them. Before personalized learning can occur, personalized relationships must be developed, maintained, and nurtured. How students feel about and perform in school is, in large part, determined by their relationships with teachers. The IASD Board of Directors is committed to developing positive, pro-social relationships between staff and students and among peers. Several students also participate in a professional think tank with teachers and administrators through a partnership with the National Center on Education and the Economy where this collective group is benchmarking systems from all over the world to continuously improve our programming and systems of support for ALL students. An example of support includes our summer acceleration program that more than 1,000 students have participated in over the past two years. Prior to that, no such opportunity existed for our students. Kudos to the IASD Board of Directors for using the ESSR funds exactly how and where they should - on our students. Also, through the Board’s leadership, we were successful in our attempt to secure millions of dollars for the next five years for after school programming that previously did not exist in the same scope and size.
Organization management is another area to note for the IASD Board of Directors. The Board of Directors has overseen the implementation of a safety/security operation plan within the District that includes multiple measures and aligns to state expectations This includes significant savings to taxpayers that resulted in an $4,287,419 increase to the General Fund and Capital Reserve since the 2018-19 school year; nearly half a million dollars in new competitive grants being awarded to the District; leadership and support to get the students back in school for in-person learning only three days after a fire demolished Eisenhower Elementary; reduction of expenditures by nearly $800,000 in the 21-22 school year; allocation and authorization of funds to provide additional support at the grade 4-5 buildings in the area of literacy; providing a vision to the administration to increase several new partnerships with IUP for the betterment of our students; support for the administration to a create a Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports in the District that has received accolades at the state level as well as nationally; and leading the District in coming under budget each year since 2018 while increasing staffing and supports for our students while not increasing taxes the past five years.
School directors devote, on average, 10 hours each month to board business, which has only been made more challenging by the lingering effects of the pandemic and related issues that impact the well-being of our students and families. Their hard work and dedication is pivotal to providing the unconditional and ongoing support our students and community need. Board service is unpaid, and school directors are often motivated to pursue the role out of a desire to benefit their community. When surveyed, the vast majority of school directors across the state indicated their primary reason for serving is to give back or contribute to public education or to improve educational outcomes for students. I can say with confidence that this is one of the guiding principles of the IASD Board of Directors. During our time together, the District has been recognized nationally and throughout the state for the systems of support provided to our students. This includes Ben Franklin Elementary being identified as a model school throughout the country, a Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence at Eisenhower Elementary, IHS being named one of the best STEM schools in America, and every one of our schools being named one of America’s Best according to U.S. News and World Report.
School directors are locally elected officials, focused on improving the townships and boroughs in which they live. They are our fellow neighbors, local leaders, co-workers, parents, and friends. As citizens and parents, the success of our schools is a collective interest. This month, let us recognize our school directors for their time and dedication. Our collective appreciation can be a great encouragement to these public servants, as they help ensure our schools remain a pathway to opportunity for every student.