Project Transformation” includes New Principal at HS, Auditors, Education consultants, Publication
NORTH FOREST– This beleagured school district continues with a multiple faceted plan to turn around academic and financial standings with the state, and through appeals gain status to forego a closure order from the Texas Education Agency. At last Monday’s board meeting, acting Superintendent Edna Forté presented details of this plan, called “Project Transformation.” Helping with the presentation was North Forest High School’s new principal, James Troutman.
Forté emphasized changes and improvements at the High School, where the TEA accountability rating has been Unacceptable and helped pull the District into the same rating.
To help with the transformation, the board approved contracts with two educational consultants, approved a modest tax increase, and hired an additional associate principal for the high school.
They also approved a new Employee Handbook, and confirmed the hiring of a new Athletic Director and Football Coach. The new AD is Darrell Hawkins, the new football coach is Plez Atkins.
Project Transformation, as explained by Forté, consists of three components: Academic achievement, sound Financial Policy, and reestablishing Public Trust.
This is accomplished in eight steps, she said.
First, establish a competent Transformation team, and designate the principal as the internal lead facilitator for the high school;
Second, move toward school autonomy, allowing the high school to make more decisions and be responsible and accountable;
Third, work with stakeholders to build support for the Transformation strategy;
Fourth, contract with external professionals to provide guidance and review and evaluate academic progress;
Fifth, provide rigorous staff development, including training, continual monitoring and evaluation and modification as required;
Sixth, increase learning time with additional funding and partnerships as necessary;
Seventh, reform instruction through a variety of means, including leadership, alignment of instruction with standards and benchmarks, curriculum adjustments as required after monitoring and assessment, provide different teaching modes, emphasize homework and parent involvement, and finally employ effective classroom management;
Eighth, lead change with communication, acting on collected data, optimizing educational conditions, and be willing to discontinue failing strategies.
The board adopted a new tax rate for the 2011-12 school year, of $1.469292 total, compared with $1.37 last year. This amount reflects a 9 cent increase in the I & S Fund tax, which does not require voter approval, only board action. This was recommended by the external auditor, Mr. Karr, and was less than originally proposed in the public notice. The auditor emphasized that due to an increase in the overall appraised property in the District of about $76 million, the District will receive about $1,300,000 additional funds in their budget. The increase in the tax rate will mean only about a $10 increase in the average home in the district. The District has reduced its overall budget this year, from $51.3 million last year to about $47.6 million this year, with a small surplus of $500,000 projected to build up the reserve fund as required.
The board voted to hire an education consultant familiar with this type of demographic, Dr. Pedro Noguera of NYU School for Urban Education, and a firm LEAD4Ward, to aid in implementing and assessing the new Texas STAAR tests. Dr. Noguera is co-author of a book, “Unfinished Business” about education in an urban minority district in New Jersey, and the ability to reform it.