Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

USD 345 Boosts Training, Tech ; District: Community Members, Staff Asked to Complete a Survey

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

USD 345 Boosts Training, Tech ; District: Community Members, Staff Asked to Complete a Survey

Article excerpt

For Aarion Gray, finding ways to be more efficient and effective in an educational setting comes naturally and is just part of the job.

"We're always looking for ways to improve," said Gray, 35, who recently began his fourth year as Logan Elementary's principal. "It's pretty much ingrained."

Gray and his counterparts in Seaman Unified School District 345's buildings are playing a part in the overall evaluation process the district has undertaken that continues through the fall. With help from Emporia State University's Jones Center for Innovative School Leadership, administrators, teachers, staff and community members are being asked how the district can find efficiencies in their processes that will make teaching children more effective.

"Our train of thought has always been that efficiency without effectiveness is not a good way to go," superintendent Mike Mathes said. "It's not just about (saving) money. Our charge is to educate kids."

Mathes said the intention of the evaluation is to get an objective perspective on the district's operations and educational practices that can provide a foundation for the district's next long- range strategic plan.

"We thought it was important to bring in someone to see that we've missed and make us more efficient," he said.

According to the center's website, 48 districts have asked to be evaluated since the CISL was created in 2004, including Shawnee Heights USD 450 during the 2010-11 school year.

"The study was helpful overall, and it was a good process to assist us in self-examination," superintendent Marty Stessman said. "It can be useful at times for an organization to examine and question its own practices. CISL made a number of recommendations. Some of them made sense for us to implement. Some did not."

Stessman said a few of the changes USD 450 made based on the CISL's recommendations included providing additional intensive guided reading training for elementary teachers, increased bandwidth and technology support staff, and creating an updated classified staff handbook, including standardizing classified practices across the district. …

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