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Headed In The Right Direction

posted Jan 30, 2018, 11:30 AM by Google Apps   [ updated Jan 30, 2018, 11:40 AM ]

The Center for Innovative School Leadership (CISL) Survey was completed for SCKSEC at the end of the 2016-17 school year. During our SCKSEC pre-service, I had shared some of the information found in the CISL report, but would like to explain more findings to you pertinent to some of the changes that are taking place in the Inter-local. Overall, this survey was very complimentary and shared much information that was positive concerning programs, administration, staff and delivery of services. There were also some much-needed findings that I will share with you. Several of these findings were already in beginning stages and some have come from the survey itself.

As a brief introduction, the Center for Innovative School Leadership survey was created in 2004 to review school and special education entity efficiency and effectiveness. This process was created to identify best practices, cost savings and to develop effective programming in human resources, organization, leadership and delivery of services.  The CISL report compared SCKSEC to five peer organizations across the state that matched similarly in size.

SCKSEC is currently comprised of 15 school districts in South Central Kansas, which are spread across eight counties and cover 6,205 square miles. SCKSEC is one of 39 inter-local and cooperative agencies that serve special education students in Kansas. During the survey, SCKSEC employed 268 paraprofessionals and 120 licensed staff and served 1,139 students with exceptionalities.

Compliance indicators and delivery of services were an integral part of this survey. The State Performance Plan (SPP) collects data on 29 compliance indicators to determine whether compliance was met in each indicator area. SCKSEC had four of fifteen districts that met 100% compliance on all 29 indicators. This indicated that continued information, concrete expectations and compliance processes should be strengthened so that all districts would be 100% compliant.

This information was shared with the Inter-local Superintendents, Board of Education, school psychologists and compliance team to continue efforts to strengthen compliance in Early Childhood, least restrictive environments and graduation rates. Staff communications referring to compliance and IEP expectations were also developed and ongoing.

It was found that 22% of the students in SCKSEC districts were identified as needing special education services. The Kansas state percentage is 16.3. As you can see, this is quite a bit higher than the state average. Again, information was shared with the proper personnel to gain knowledge in SIT processes, eligibility indicators and special education least restrictive environments.  

Many commendations and recommendations were brought forth from this survey pertaining to delivery of services. Several of the commendations and recommendations are as follows:

Commendations

·      All districts with state reported data met compliance indicators in Math and Reading ages 6-21.

·      No evaluations took more than 60 school days.

·      The cooperative analyzes categories of students to track trends across districts in an effort to spot discrepancies.

·      Survey respondents were complimentary of SCKSEC administration.

·      Survey respondents were generally complimentary of cooperative office staff, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, itinerant staff, district principals, general education teachers and parents of students with disabilities.

·      There was a general agreement that the cooperative staff assigned to the district was a “part of the team”.

Recommendations

·      SCKSEC evaluate the two-Day School Programs to determine student needs and whether those students could be served in their home districts in a less restrictive environment.

o   SCKSEC re-established Entrance/ Exit Criteria to the day school programs

o   SCKSEC administration trained on the Entrance/ Exit Criteria

·      Co-teaching was recommended as an effective delivery model to assure highly qualified content and services to students in the least restrictive environment.

o   Assistant Director, Cris Seidel is a Co-Teaching Trainer for TASN and continues to advocate for this model

·      Review the General Education Intervention process for effectiveness and make necessary changes.

o   GEI information, SIT processes, eligibility information was communicated to district personnel

·      SCKSEC develop a three to five year strategic plan

o   Strategic Planning process – initial phase

Human Resources were also a priority included in the survey. Here is a list of some of the findings. I think that you will find this interesting and hope that it will answer some questions that you may have.

Findings

·      Paraprofessional handbook is detailed and comprehensive

·      Negotiated agreement is thorough and complete

·      Additional compensation for paraprofessionals working in high impact positions is provided

·      Some regular education teachers do not feel they are adequately trained or informed on how to best serve students with IEP’s

·      Skyward was implemented to improve efficiency, effectiveness and savings to the cooperative

·      Itinerate staff, administers, board of directors, and central office staff recognize the implementation of vision throughout the cooperative and feel that moral is improving

·      Cooperative administration is viewed as transactional and supportive

·      Attrition rates: there is a 20% teaching staff attrition due to the salary schedule perceived as being low and 30% paraprofessionals attributed to low salary schedule

·      Currently 19 waivered special education teachers

·      Appears that SCKSEC is adequately staffed as compared to three other cooperatives of like size.

Commendations

·      Health insurance is funded at 95% for paraprofessionals

·      Continuing to look at technology that can improve efficiency and effectiveness, the cooperative will save resources and money

·      Teacher and para advisory councils provide an avenue for employees to voice concerns

·      Human Resource Director has done a good job of taking care of procedures and policies

·      Leadership members are effective communicators, courteous, and knowledgeable of staff skills and talents

Recommendations

·      SCKSEC develop a procedural manual and distribute it to cooperative and district administrators

o   District administration is currently working toward this endeavor

·      SCKSEC properly train regular education teachers and paraprofessionals as to their specific role and how to best serve IEP students

·      Create ways to recruit paraprofessionals

·      Replace one sick day with a personal paraprofessional day

o   Implemented August 2017

·      Complete a district salary schedule comparison

o   Strategic planning

The last section of the CISL report was looking at the Organization and Leadership of SCKSEC. This piece of the study pertains mainly to the budget, board communication and Inter-local agreement. Here several items of interest that were found.

Findings

·      There is a need for local capability to address challenging behaviors

·      Principals in two day schools are called upon to respond to other schools when there is a crisis

·      Inter-local maintains an IMC that may or may not be viable

Commendations

·      Inter-local agreement is updated

·      Addition of an Autism Coordinator is regarded as successful

·      MST team is seen as a great support for staff in crisis

·      Board reports a need for improved communication they feel “light years” ahead of where they had been

·      Coop is viewed by principals as providing excellent in-service opportunities

Recommendations

·      SCKSEC continue to insure budgetary figures are reported accurately and reflect revenue and expenditures

o   Implementation of Skyward

·      Districts do not call day school principals away from assigned duties

o   Entrance/ Exit Criteria followed by districts

·         Review and staffing allocations and increase or adjust as needed to meet requirements specified under IDEA

o   Ongoing through SCKSEC administration

As I reviewed this information to share I realized how much we are doing so well and how much progress we have made in the past few years. There is always room for growth in every organization. I hope that you have clarity on why we are expanding our efforts in data collection, SIT team processes, continued compliance expectations and improved curriculum and programs for students. What we do is not easy. How we serve and treat students is top priority! I believe that we at SCKSEC believe in Fostering HOPE, JOY and PURPOSE for ALL! If you would like more information about this report, please connect with me, I’d be glad to go over this in a more detailed format with you. 
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