The Scottsdale Unified School District set some lofty goals for itself during the past two days, and now staff and governing board members not only need to find ways to accomplish them — but ways to fund them.
During a two-day planning session, the governing board and senior staff members gave themselves nearly two years to hit some difficult targets: Yearly academic improvement by every student, having every school on the path toward a state label of "excelling," and strengthening community support.
"We’ve got a lot of work to do," said Ann Boyle, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. "We’re all sitting here saying, ‘Oh my word.’ "
Five board members and seven top administrators and staff met in a Scottsdale Community College Airpark Campus classroom Friday and Saturday with corporate consultant Gary Selick for a 13-hour meeting.
Saturday afternoon, Selick led them through roughly planning out almost two years of improvement with dozens of sticky notes on calendars that wallpapered the room.
Board president Shari Avianantos and Superintendent Barbara Erwin pulled the meeting together to focus the district’s leaders. Erwin has expressed frustration in the past about the district’s bad timing, and board members have done the same about a shortage of long-term planning.
The plans devised Saturday were admittedly bold, Avianantos said.
Pursuing improvement in every student would require the ability for teachers to break down test results within the classroom, and tailor programs for nearly 27,000 students individually. That would likely require new software to be bid on this school year.
"We haven’t been able to analyze the individual learning styles," Erwin said. "We get a test score."
In terms of pursuing "excelling" in the state’s school labeling system, every campus will need to demonstrate a combination of high graduation rates, test scores and annual improvement. The feat has only been done by three public schools in the state so far.
Hitting the goals means new or enhanced programs, many of which will need more money, officials said.
"You’re going to have to have an additional revenue stream if you want this," Erwin said.
More money will have to be drawn in from two more voter-approved budget overrides. The district already has one in place — and has been lobbying the state for increased funding and privat e companies for donations.
That can’t happen unless the district improves in an area many said needs work — public relations and community trust and support.
New board member Joel Feldman insisted that with better communication, the public will begin to rally in support of the district’s strengths. The plan will be unveiled at an Aug. 19 board meeting.