EM school board develops plan for growing Hispanic population

Posted Online: Oct. 05, 2012, 6:29 pm
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By Sarah Hayden, shayden@qconline.com
A three-year strategic plan approved by the East Moline School Board last week calls for an action plan to address the growing minority population within the district.

Months of planning and research went into the plan, designed to help guide the East Moline School District through challenges in the next three years, ending June 30, 2015. Included are strategic objectives, core values and critical issues facing the district.

Critical issues include the growing Hispanic population and being able to provide English-as-a-second-language classes.

Three years ago, Hillcrest Elementary School had one self-contained bilingual kindergarten classroom, said Principal Ron Harris. This year, Hillcrest has separate classrooms for kindergarten, first and second grades, and one combined classroom for third and fourth grades.

"There's been a significant change in student demographics," said Mr. Harris. "Kids can now go all the way through Hillcrest with bilingual support."

A former teacher at Colona Grade School and North Scott Junior High, Mr. Harris said he can see how what happens at an elementary school impacts a middle school.

"We've identified cultural issues that have been lacking in past years," said East Moline District Transportation Director Evelyn Gay. "We are recognizing we have a cultural shock in our district that needs to be addressed."

Other critical issues include larger economic problems such as an expected rise in low income families within the district, the continued decrease in funding from Illinois, and the possible shifting of employee pensions from the state to school districts, which would add a bigger financial burden on school budgets.

East Moline Superintendent Kristin Humphries said it is important to provide direction to staff and let parents know the goals of the school district. He said he will be reporting on the progress of the strategic plan quarterly to the school board.

"It makes our jobs easier if everyone knows what we're working toward so they can help us move forward," said Mr. Humphries. "We need to refine our practices so we can do a better job of educating our children."

Mr. Humphries said a three-year time frame was chosen because it is a realistic goal. Going beyond three years is difficult to plan for, considering how circumstances, budgets and population can change. The strategic plan will continue to grow and adapt as conditions change within the district, he said.

The planning committee of 13 people included school board members, Mr.Humphries, district employees and members of the community.

With the direction of Strategy in Progress consultant Steve Sorensen, the group met twice per month for a total of 12 planning meetings and countless hours of work.

Mr. Humphries said the committee gave up a lot of evenings this spring and summer and they did an amazing job.

He expects the plan to have an immediate impact, saying an action plan was drafted to go along with the strategic plan outlining specific timelines. One immediate goal, said Mr. Humphries, is to close student learning gaps within the next six months.

"What excited me about this plan is our district has a vision," said Ms. Gay. "All of us have a part to play in this."

Mr. Humphries said every district employee and all families will receive a copy of the strategic plan October 17. A link to the plan will be posted on the district website: emsd37.org.

"We'll do whatever it takes to make our children succeed," said Mr. Humphries. "This is a working, living, breathing document. We have the best teachers anywhere; it blows you away what they can accomplish when they work together."

East Moline school district strategic objectives

-- Maintain long-term financial stability to prepare for funding uncertainty from Illinois
-- Raise student achievement levels
-- Provide facilities, technology and transportation to meet student needs
-- Provide professional development for staff
-- Improve communication at all levels within the district, including between parents and teachers
-- Strengthen the relationship between the district and the community
-- Seek ways to collaborate with other districts and agencies
-- Create a district-wide student-first culture


Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, Aug. 2, the 214th day of 2014. There are 151 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Because of the National Fast, no paper will be issued from this office tomorrow.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Attracting considerable attention is a sunflower stalk 15 feet high and still growing in the yard of Dr. C. Speidel on 23rd Street in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The municipal bathing beach proposition came up again at the city commission's meeting and a proposition passed, provided that a locker room be constructed at the foot of 7th Street for the accommodation of the bathers.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans for erecting a $14,000 warehouse to replace the frame structure at the rear of the Augustana Book Concern were announced.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Hours for tours of the new Deere & Co. Administrative Center on John Deere Road will be changed, effective Monday.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Tuesday night at the Great Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band gave its fans more than they possibly could have expected. The band took the stage at 9:07 p.m. and didn't leave until 10:40.

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