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Superintendent Mary Whitrock, middle standing, speaks to stakeholders ahead of a Ripon Area School District Strategic Planning meeting this March.

Issue:

The Ripon Area School District (RASD) held the second of two strategic planning sessions last week Monday.

The session gave staff, school board members, parents and administrators a chance to review the district’s progress on its four strategic pillars.

“The team worked to draft action steps under each pillar,” RASD Curriculum Director Chrissy Damm said. “The work of this team also satisfied the district’s federal obligation as required under the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), which includes engaging district stakeholders in a collaborative conversation regarding essential work necessary to support high levels of student achievement.”

Background:

RASD hosted a strategic planning session in March in which stakeholders broke into small groups to discuss six objectives designed to further the district’s core strategies.

The six objectives include:

  • Provide every student with a well-rounded education that meets their learning needs in an appropriate, healthy and safe environment;

  • Provide professional growth and improvement opportunities for all teachers, principals, paraprofessionals and other school leaders to further a high-quality education for students;

  • Utilize evidence-based interventions and support services to ensure every student graduates from high school prepared for their college or career plan;

  • Make progress on closing the achievement gap for all subgroups in English language arts and mathematics so all students meet challenging academic standards;

  • Strengthen district service, stakeholder satisfaction and partnerships by embedding a continuous-improvement system throughout the district;

  • And address ongoing financial challenges by re-examining system processes for efficiencies that can drive resources into the core purpose of student learning.

Status:

At the most recent strategic planning meeting, those topics again were discussed.

On the topic of providing a well-rounded education, Damm noted the conversation centered around equity for sub groups of students.

Those groups included gifted and talented, English learners and students with special education needs.

Stakeholders also discussed “conducting open-enrollment surveys, continuing with the elementary literacy audit and developing skills-based rubrics and assessment at the high school level,” Damm said.

The stakeholder group discussing professional development reviewed the new teacher mentor program and looked for areas of enhancement, such as adding more mentoring support in high needs content and grades.

It also reviewed “the district’s onboarding process, and continuing to encourage student participation in after-school opportunities and extra curriculars,” Damm said.

Under the college and career readiness pillar, Superintendent Mary Whitrock noted the team talked about growing partnerships and apprenticeship opportunities and looked for ways to evaluate career exploration opportunities to find the best fit for students.

“The team considered using surveys with students and business partners to find ways to grow and improve the program,” Whitrock said.

In terms of community partnerships and district satisfaction, the superintendent noted staff and parents satisfaction results are “high in the district and effort needs to be taken to keep those results high.”

“One area yet to survey would be at the secondary level in terms of student satisfaction in college and career readiness,” she said. “We wish to quantify our partnerships up to, and including, apprenticeships with area businesses.”

On the financial challenges front, Whitrock noted RASD is evaluating options for insurance, which include potentially moving from a fully insured health plan to a self-funded plan in future years.

“Although the self-funded option was not cost effective to move to for this next school year, the district is continuing to consider opening an on-site clinic for staff and their families, which could open as soon as January 2023,” she said.

What’s next?

Damm added that the discussions last week assisted the district in drafting “measurable action steps” within each of RASD’s strategic pillars.

“Ripon is working to be a continuous quality improvement (CQI) district,” she said. “Over the course of this multiple-year journey, the strategic planning team reviews key elements to evaluate progress. This team reviewed those key elements to note progress and next steps.”

Whitrock is thankful to district staff, School Board members, parents and administrators who helped draft action steps to meet federal requirements.

“It was a great deal of data to sift through, but it is also exciting to see the growth the district is making over time,” she said.

Is there an issue you want us to update?

If you’re wondering about something that was in the news but doesn’t have a resolution, send your idea to:

Email: news@riponpress.com

Phone: 920-748-3017

Mail: 303 Watson St., PO Box 262, Ripon, WI 54971

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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