Redmond School District has undergone multiple leadership changes in the last 10 years. Despite these transitions, and, in the midst of a both significant economic decline and regional fiscal crisis, Redmond School District has continued in the quest for excellence. With the announcement of Shay Mikalson’s departure in the spring of 2012, our school board invited me to serve in an interim capacity as superintendent. I was honored and so very glad they did. By September and early October, I was convinced that I wanted to serve for a longer term and do my best to provide stability and direction to the district that I care about and love. This is truly an amazing place to work and serve.
Although I serve as superintendent, the shared leadership model which we have employed demands that this summary reflects the work and accomplishments of our entire leadership team and extends out to the folks in our schools that teach and support kids every day.
Organizational Structure and Responsibilities
Prior to my transition to superintendent, much effort went into creating a new organizational structure that would support and sustain our momentum for improvement while at the same time capitalize on the unique strengths and talents within our organization that would help shape a course for future growth and improvement. One of the considerations discussed as part of the development of this new model was that the more traditional top down model was one of the reasons for burn-out and eventual loss of leaders in our district. A new vision was cast which included a shared leadership model with a different level of responsibility and authority being placed on three administrators instead of only one.
Executive director positions were established for academic programs, student services and operations. I happen to serve as both superintendent and executive director of operations. Having delineated the work of the superintendent into three very distinct categories, the duties fall naturally to those with the background and skills necessary to lead most effectively in those areas.
Believing that student success is our school district’s most important job, every employee and every department channel resources to maximize learning and success.
Setting a Course
Late last summer, the school board and I engaged in the critical and important work of establishing the vision and mission for our district. We recognized that in order to galvanize the district and move each staff member to a common place of understanding around our goal of proficient learning, the school board must set the bar high. The following reflects that expectation and has been adopted as the Redmond School District mission and vision. This then set the path for the development of our strategic plan and the activities that we prioritize to align with these principles.
From Vision to Reality
From the outset and well into the transition, the overwhelming message from staff and our community was to provide leadership in the following areas:
- Simplify – The work of education can get complicated and overwhelming due to continuous changes beyond our control. During this time of unprecedented change in the scope of our work, staff has been emphatic about their desire to focus on fewer key priorities and to give full effort and resources to those versus spreading our human and fiscal resources out too thinly on too many objectives, thereby diminishing our effectiveness.
- Prioritize – Prioritizing those activities and initiatives and incorporating them into a strategic and sound fiscal plan has been the work of this team. With the development of our Strategic Plan we have attempted to hone in on a few key priorities and resource those appropriately. This plan then acts as both a roadmap and a reminder about the goal to stay focused on our priorities.
- Clarify – Bringing clarity to those key priorities is an important part of this work. Communicating that information to all stakeholder groups is an important role of both the superintendent and our entire team.
- Sustain – Sustaining focus and priority on our key goals will enable us to march forward as a team, united around common objectives.
One of the official charges given to me early in this relationship was that of developing a strategic plan, a roadmap, for continued improvement and growth of systems that support success for all students.
Our strategic plan represents a significant effort to:
1) Clarify priorities and objectives (aligned to state goals and representing local needs),
2) Define strategies to achieve these objectives and,
3) Align metrics that will indicate evidence of progress.
This strategic plan captures the priority of our work and serves a guide and governor for future improvements. It is a rolling two-year plan that is a living body of work designed to adapt as the needs and conditions change in an ever-changing educational landscape.
The strategic plan is informed by a “Model for Personalized Learning” that details the foundation of proficient learning in our district. The model is depicted by moving parts, gears that represent the complexity and also the interdependence of the work that supports student achievement. At the center of that model is the student, who should and will drive our work.
Finally, we have developed a budget that for the first time reflects clean alignment with district priorities. Rather than “planning a budget” we are “budgeting to the plan,” using our strategic priorities to help prioritize resource allocation.