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New principal hired: Waubun moves on improvement plan

The Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School Board is moving along with the School Improvement Grant that must be submitted by July 1.

The board met Thursday to work on some unanswered questions that a committee responsible for writing the grant presented, but first, they approved hiring the newest member of that committee.

Michael Cary is the new 5-12 principal who's been added to the team to work on overhauling the school under the federal requirements.

After choosing a model that requires hiring a new principal, a site administrative manager and an office of turnaround schools supervisor, the board is now working on some of the details to ensure receiving the funds necessary to transform the school.

They first discussed the job requirements of a site administrative manager (SAM). Since the school already has a dean of students on hand, some of SAM duties could be combined with those of the dean of students to create a new position.

The SAM position is intended to help alleviate some of the issues that sometimes show up on the principal's desk, such as discipline, scheduling and parent communication.

The principal will focus more on teacher supervision, lesson plan monitoring, data analysis and curriculum enhancements.

Board member Tammy Winter said parents will need to understand that if they need to meet with an administrator, it will have to be the SAM, so they don't insist on meeting with the principal.

'60 minutes'

Another requirement of the grant is to add 60 minutes of instruction per day, an "unrealistic" scheduling hassle.

Some of the options the board tossed out is getting rid of home room, switching to the seven or eight-hour day schedule, or actually adding minutes to the day before and after school.

"Time is time, you can't just make more of it," Winter said after a lengthy discussion on the topic. "Are we realistically going to add another hour without actually adding another hour?"

Starting school a couple of weeks before Labor Day is an option that would add six or seven student contact days to the year, therefore, overall instruction time. Although it's not a requirement under the federal program, Superintendent Mitch Anderson said it was something to consider.

The proposal to start school on Aug. 23 could be submitted earlier than July 1 to the Minnesota Department of Education, that way the school can notify parents ahead of time.

Evaluations, PLCs

The overhaul model also requires multiple forms of teacher evaluations such as peer and self evaluations, specifically, three observations per year.

Additionally, teachers must participate in 90 minutes a week of professional learning communities.

The School Improvement Grant committee will work out the remaining details and present recommendations to the board at a special meeting next Thursday, June 24.