Criticism: Can Thompson take it?
Style needs to match substance, School Board ...
COLLIER COUNTY — It’s only the second day of school, but the Collier County School Board already has a lot of homework.
Board members held a special work shop Tuesday to discuss Superintendent Dennis Thompson’s goals for next year and a plan as to how the district will use the Connect Now report in its strategic plan over the next year.
Thompson had five goals to present to the board:
n Improving student achievement and development — Thompson said his primary job will include helping more subgroups, which include English Language Learners; continuing to work to meet or exceed No Child Left Behind and working on Adequate Yearly Progress standards. All schools are expected to meet Adequate Yearly Progress and No Child Left Behind improvement goals by 2014.
The state of Florida has instituted new policies to deal with schools that fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress or No Child standards for several years in a row.
n Develop a long range strategic plan by June 30, 2010.
n Enhance internal and external communication and public engagement — Thompson said he heard the board’s comments during his evaluation last week and would implement plans to enhance internal and external communication.
n Design and implement professional development for staff — Board member Julie Sprague said she appreciated the effort, but asked Thompson to engage teachers and other staff members participating in the training for input on what training would be given. She also asked that Thompson be sensitive to the time involved for teachers.
n Manage resources effectively to support student achievement and development.
Board Vice Chairwoman Kathleen Curatolo said she would like to see the district make a commitment to look at its operations and look for savings that could possibly be put into professional development for staff members. Thompson told Curatolo that the staff was looking into reducing the amount of megawatts the district used in its schools by 5 percent to save money.
Board member Richard Calabrese said the goals concerned him.
“I just want to make sure we are not put in the box we were before. Are these the goals we want the superintendent to attain or are these the goals he wants to attain?” he said.
Calabrese said he would like to see some measurable goals. He said while he was fine with Thompson discussing how much he wanted to improve Adequate Yearly Progress for English Language Learner students, he would like Thompson to put a number with how much improvement he wanted to make.
Before Thompson discussed his goals, board members discussed how they hoped to integrate what the community members told them they wanted in the Connect Now statement to a plan that could be implemented during the year.
Connect Now is a process that the Education Foundation of Collier County began last year. The organization held more than 50 community conversations, often in homes around the county, to discover the community’s shared priorities for education and improving community life. A report on community values was then developed.
Board members discussed things like aligning the curriculum and preparing students for the workforce, holding leaders accountable and improving communication. While nothing concrete was developed, board members hope to have another session soon to finalize the details.
In other board business, Calabrese began the workshop Tuesday by apologizing to School Board member Steve Donovan and the community for his “bad manners.” The two got into a heated exchange last week over Calabrese’s comments on Thompson’s review. The Collier County School Board voted to remove certain comments from Calabrese’s review, including those he made about Chief Instructional Officer Martha Hayes and his dissatisfaction in her performance, and his criticism of the board’s decision to outsource custodial services, a decision he was not part of because he was recovering from a heart attack.
Donovan then asked that Calabrese be censured for violating several board policies including those on board/staff communication. The two began a heated exchange that escalated when Calabrese said he “couldn’t argue with a mental deficient.”
Donovan said he accepted Calabrese’s apology and said he was ready to move forward.
“This is over with, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I don’t hold grudges.”