Woodland Hills Long Range Plan: The Seven Tiers
Part 4 of a four-part series on Woodland Hills' 'Long-Range Plan for Excellence.'
Last spring, Woodland Hills School Board learned the recommendations of an ad hoc committee of administrators, teachers and community members who helped come up with a long-range plan for the district.
Among their suggestions were expanding the existing alternative program for disruptive students to become a K-12 program, finding a way to replicate the success of the Woodland Hills Academy for all students, doing more to support student needs and addressing the difficult junior high demographic in terms of achievement and behavior.
Substitute Superintendent Alan Johnson said that's about when he entered the process to create a plan for the future of the school district.
A smaller planning committee comprised of board members and central office administrators took over where the ad hoc committee had stopped, turning the ad hoc groups recommendations into a step-by-step plan for the district.
In considering the education process, the district also has to consider the budget issues, including state budget cuts, the financial drain charter schools put on public school districts and other taxing issues.
Johnson said the board might take action on some items and not others. He explained the long-range plan is not a "one motion" proposition.
The district projects that it could save $2-3 million a year by closing three elementary schools, moving seventh-graders to a separate building close to the high school and bringing eighth-graders into the high school building.
But while the physical moves are one part of the plan, the true educational impact of the plan will be felt in the classroom. Johnson said the district's long-range plan includes seven tiers that will embrace the education of each student from kindergarten through graduation—and beyond.
Those tiers are:
- Birth to Pre-K: Early Interventions—This involves the district forming a relationship with and being an active presence in the lives of families with young children, including helping young parents connect with needed social services.
- Pre-K to Grade 3: Learning to Read—The focus will be on building reading skills.
- Grades 4 to 6: Reading to Learn—Students will take the skills they've learned and apply them to other curriculum areas.
- Grades 7 and 8: Transition to High School—Teaching the students the accountability they will need in the high school grade levels.
- Grades 9 and 10: Mastering the Core—These grades will focus on mastering the material needed to pass the Keystone Exams in biology, algebra and literature.
- Grades 11 and 12: The Career Pathways—The last two years will prepare students for life after high school. Johnson said that 65 percent of the district's graduates go to college but only about half finish. While everyone will get a college prep curriculum, Johnson said, "We're trying to get kids to see there are other pathways to success."
- Beyond June: A Plan for Life—The district hopes to start building better alumni relationships.
Drawing from talented faculty members, the district will use a series of planning teams, beginning this summer. Johnson said there will be one team each for planning the four elementary academies, one for the Family Centre, one for special education, one for the seventh-grade Transition Centre and one or more teams for developing the high school career path sequences.
During the 2013-14 school year, the planning teams will develop detailed and focused plans; the Family Centre team will develop a needs assessment for the Family Centre building; the district will develop an application process for admission into the themed academies; and transportation schedules will be reworked to mimic the current Woodland Hills Academy busing system.
As they do that, the district will be doing a series of actions to make the plan take shape.
In 2013-14, with board approval, the district would undertake the formal processes for closing Dickson and Shaffer School.
Fairless is already in that closure/repurposing process and a hearing on the proposal will be held at the school at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 531 Jones Ave., North Braddock. Johnson will also give an overview of the district's long-range plan at the meeting.
What do you think of the district's plans? Tell us in the comments section.
Check back with Patch as the long-range plans progress. For more information, see: