By AMY REX, MTSD superintendent
Safe and supportive is the foundation of a school where every student develops the academic and social/emotional skills necessary to be successful in our global world. Beyond opportunities to learn, schools, must now be prepared to provide specialized medical, social and mental health services. This new order requires appropriate space, equipment and training. It requires a budget that adequately endorses our most notable needs. More importantly, it requires the school and community to be collaborative partners; that is to collectively see and create a bright future. This article is the first in a series to provide the Milton Community with an inside look at the MTSD proposed budget and to understand the rationale for changes so that we may collectively serve our most precious asset, our children.
Part 1: An Elementary Organizational Structure to Support a New Era in Education
Our student data – academic and discipline along with other measurements related to mental health, youth risk behavior, homelessness and food security show an increasing number of students who are struggling to access their learning in meaningful and productive ways. Despite the changing needs of our students, our organizational structures are exactly the same as they were in 1918 when compulsory education in the United States began to take hold.
If we want to ensure coherence in programming (including an array of wrap around academic, health and social services), transitions, family involvement, and community partnerships then we need a system that can effectively integrate all available resources and opportunities to target the development of the whole child. As a starting point, we are proposing a new organizational structure in the elementary school.
The new structure calls for one principal, PreK-5, and three developmental teams: PreK-K; 1-2 and 3-5. The PreK-K team would be facilitated by an Early Childhood Coordinator while the 1-2 and 3-5 teams would be facilitated by Assistant Principals. In addition, a Coordinator of Social Emotional Learning would be shared between the 1-2 and 3-5 teams. This new structure would eliminate the existing silos between early education and the elementary grades and provide continuity and flexibility for student transitions especially between Triple E/PreK, Kindergarten and First Grade. The model would also provide the infrastructure for teams to creatively and flexibly address increasing complex and diverse needs of students. These teams would improve the effectiveness of opportunities and services for all children by ensuring timely coordination and continuity across all stakeholders – teachers, families and service providers. Other advantages of this new model include: clear lines of decision making and communication; a principal focused on instructional leadership; and two assistant principals to address behavior in both a more preventative and effective manner. An organizational structure more suited to addressing the needs of all learners would not only improve academic outcomes and social/emotional support for all students, it may in turn also minimize the number of students who must attend out of district placements.