Thursday, March 13, 2014

Purchasing Land

At the February meeting, the Solon Board of Education approved purchasing property at 1775 Racine Avenue.  The transaction was completed on March 12th (see picture below).  The land was owned by Donald and Yvonne Epley, who have lived at that location for approximately fifty years.  The Epleys graciously worked with the school district on the transaction with full knowledge of the District goal to build a new middle school at the site.

School Board Members Dick Schwab and Rick Jedlicka with Donald & Yvonne Epley


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014-15 School Calendar

The Board of Education approved the 2014-15 school calendar at the February 10th meeting (see below).  The Calendar Committee has been working for multiple years to develop a calendar that increases professional development for staff, yet provides consistency for students and parents.  As you can see in the spreadsheet below, the Calendar Committee considered several options prior to submitting a recommendation of Option "D" to the Board of Education.

The 2014-15 calendar has two changes when compared to previous school calendars.  First, students will start school five days earlier.  The start date was moved from August 20th to August 14th so that Solon Graduation could continue to be held one week before Memorial Day.  The earlier start date will also allow first semester to be completed prior to Christmas Break.

The second change in the school calendar is the frequency of professional development.  In past years, the district operated professional development on an every-other-week basis, with a 1:00 dismissal time.  The 2014-15 calendar will have weekly professional development, however the dismissal time has been moved to 1:45 to reduce the impact on instructional minutes.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Instructional Rounds

This fall, Solon administrators have implemented the Instructional Rounds protocol with the goal of providing teachers specific feedback to improve teaching and learning.  Instructional rounds are grounded with the important relationship that exists between the teacher, the student and the content.  The instructional core (as seen in the chart below) allows educators to focus on improving student learning by creating rich instructional tasks.  However, in order to create learning tasks that foster higher order thinking and student engagement, all three vertices of the instructional core must be considered.



The Instructional Rounds process was started by Dr. Richard Elmore of Harvard University.  Dr. Elmore organized a select group of principals in New York to observe teaching in participating school districts.  The hosting school identified a "problem of practice", or specific area for the visiting principals to look for during observations.  After visiting several classrooms in teams, the group of principals organized the data from the observations and presented to the host school.  The host school was given specific feedback regarding instructional practices and ideas for their "next level of work".


Solon has implemented the instructional rounds protocol, but with a slight twist.  Instead of having outside observers, we are having all Solon administration, including the superintendent and Director of Instruction, visit one school for an entire day and implement the instructional rounds process.  Josh Lyons, Grant Wood AEA Regional Administrator, has facilitated the instructional rounds process to ensure all protocols are followed.  Dick Schwab, Board of Education President, joined administration for the instructional round at Solon High School.

Lakeview Elementary, Solon Middle School and Solon High has each hosted an initial Instructional Round.  Additionally, Lakeview hosted a mini "follow up" instructional round that included only the principal, superintendent and Director of Instruction to gather more data and provide additional feedback to staff.  Follow up rounds are scheduled for the middle school and high school.  After the holiday break and throughout the spring, each school will host another instructional round with a follow up by the smaller group.

While we are still in the early stages of implementation, administration thinks the instructional rounds has resulted in specific feedback for each school to consider.  One consistent theme at the end of each instructional round is that administration recognizes that our teachers deliver instruction using effective strategies that results in students being highly engaged.  We are fortunate to have such a quality, professional teaching staff.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Facility Discussions

The Board of Education approved a Facility Report developed by Struxture Architects at the October 14th meeting. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of all district facilities.

The Facility Report includes a recommendation (page 19) by the architect in multiple areas including the two highest priority items:

1.  Build a new free standing Middel School on a separate site within or on the edge of Solon that will meet the needs of the District now and for the near future.

2.  Build an auditorium onto Solon High School along the back-house functions and storage.  The auditorium would be on the East end of the existing school and built adjacent to the music areas.

The Board of education discussed the results of the Facility Report at the October 14th meeting and at a Work Session on October 21st.  A second work session to discuss facilities has been scheduled for November 25th.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Superintendent Update

I have published a Superintendent Update (link) to share district information.  I plan to publish the update quarterly and email to staff and community members. 

As you will see in the report, our district is busy with activity.  The Board of Education was presented a Facility Plan by Struxture Architects at the October 14th meeting.  The Board held a work session on October 21st to further discuss facility options.

Solon staff, parents and administration have formed a Teacher Leadership and Compensation Committee.  The Update includes details of the purpose of the committee and timeline to submit an application for funding.

The Superintendent Advisory Committee met on October 8th.  The meeting agenda and minutes are included in the Update. 

If you are on the District's email list, you will receive the Superintendent Update.  If you are not on the the District's email list but would like to be added, please contact Kris Wentzien at kwentzien@solon.k12.ia.us.



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

360 Survey Results

Below are the results of my 360 performance survey.  Thank you for taking time to provide me with feedback.  I appreciate the positive comments and acknowledge areas for improvement.  Information received through this process will guide my growth goals.