Hello to All in the Northwest Community!
I hope this finds you well as we inch ever closer to the winter months!
I keep finding myself thinking that this current school year has been just as challenging as 2020. Despite all of the obstacles due to the pandemic, I really do feel as though we are making the best decisions always based on doing what is right for our students, faculty and staff. We are trying to be thoughtful while we make intentional decisions as we navigate through constant obstacles to keep everyone as safe as we possibly can.
I have said the following on numerous occasions: We are not doctors or nurses. We are not scientists and we certainly do not subscribe to a political agenda. Everything we do, every decision we make, revolves around keeping our doors open every single day. We believe our students absolutely need to be in school face to face with their teachers. Based on that, we will do everything we can to ensure this happens for the entire school year.
Recently, we adopted an “opt-out” policy for any parents who signed off on their children. This allowed their children to attend school without masks. This policy will continue as long as our numbers remain low. As of today, October 15, our numbers for diagnosed cases of COVID remain very low. If this were to change and we experience a significant change or some type of an outbreak, we would reimplement all students must wear masks. We study our numbers each day and try to determine our path at the end of each month.
Earlier in the summer, Governor DeWine signed HB 244 into law with an effective date of October 13, 2021. This law prohibits public schools from requiring vaccinations authorized for “emergency use” by the FDA. The bill prohibits school districts from treating non-vaccinated students differently than vaccinated in relation to activities or precautions. We have already put in place actions to enable us to treat all of our students the same regardless of vaccinations.
These continue to be unusual days. Even with us being in the midst of a pandemic, there is cause for celebration.
Recently, I read an article on what school districts do to achieve operational excellence for the district and its community. I am proud to say that these five items are something we have done or we are in the midst of doing. These are Top Five Tips to Achieve Operational Excellence by Marvin Founds, Baker Tilly, and Matt Bubness.
- Actionable and measurable strategic planning – These plans are essential to provide guidance and direction for a school district. This allows us to grow together at higher and higher levels! We are just beginning to develop new plans for the district that will guide us for the next five years.
- Effective monitoring of spending and results – These are discussions we have now to analyze if funds are being spent as planned and whether or not those funds are achieving the intended results. From here, we analyze and then make plans to correct any existing issues. We do this and have done this for many years thanks to our Treasurer Mr. Dan Levengood.
- Leveraging ESSER funds – While bringing much needed relief to many school districts throughout Ohio during the pandemic, our ESSER funds are spent strategically and aligned to assist with what is essential to help our students.
- Re-evaluate everything – Even with ESSER funds, many districts will continue to face funding challenges. We exercise careful examining of current offerings and operations – and how effective they are to student learning. We analyze what offerings are most beneficial and which are aligned to overall strategic goals. Having a strategic plan is a must in order for our scheduling process to properly serve our kids.
- Examining our long-term fiscal position – Future financial challenges impacts student learning and community relationships. Long-term financial planning is essential to understand potential challenges and proactively develop plans while engaging and educating community stakeholders. With strategic planning, we can include faculty, staff, parents, and community members to achieve total understanding of the school’s financial situation.
We are determined to offer organized structures to provide the best educational opportunities for every student in our district. We have an excellent school district here and I am proud to be a part of it!
Shawn Braman Ed.D