School Board adopts new district improvement plan to empower staff

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 25, 2019 9:40 am Updated: Apr. 25, 2019 10:38 am

QUINCY -- The most important word in the title of the new Quincy Public Schools improvement plan might be the second: 'simply.'

The School Board Wednesday night adopted "Operation: Simply World Class," a plan outlined by Superintendent Roy Webb to streamline some district operations and empower district staff.

"We want to scale things back in QPS, take a more simple approach with things and also empower our teachers and leaders in the buildings and classrooms," Webb said.

Quincy School Board organizes for next two years

QUINCY — The Quincy School Board's leadership will remain the same for the next two years.
Board President Sayeed Ali and Vice President Mike Troup were re-elected at Wednesday night's organizational meeting, which followed the board's regular April meeting.
All seven board members — including Shelley Arns, Carol Nichols, Troup and Jim Whitfield, who won four-year terms in April without opposition — took the oath of office administered by Attorney David Penn.
Phyllis Stewart will remain the board secretary, the district's Chief of Business Operations Ryan Whicker was appointed treasurer and Nichols was named the Illinois Association of School Boards delegate.
Board meetings for the rest of the current fiscal year will be held at 6 p.m. on May 22 and June 26 in the Board of Education office.

The plan intends to sustain what Webb calls "good things" in the district from great offerings for students and unmatched fine arts to some of the best facilities in the state and a staff with "great spirit and willingness to change." The plan also targets Webb's concerns -- not having resources to meet the social-emotional needs of students, low achievement of some students, staff retention and workload, and stress on teachers and leaders.

The driving force in the plan will come through teachers and leaders.

"If we are going to have innovation, it's not going to be a district office initiative, it will be a classroom initiative or a schoolwide initiative," Webb said.

"We want to free principals and free teachers to be innovative in the classroom, but also to keep status quo. We may not see a lot of change," Webb said. "We've gone through a lot of change the last three to five years in the district. This gives them an opportunity to sit back, make assessments and figure out where things need to go. I think they're in a better position to do that at their level right now than we are or people outside the district are."

The plan outlines specific tasks for buildings including improving the graduation rate; improving reading, math and science achievement scores; and improving staff/school morale and staff retention rate.

The plan also seeks to simplify the current meeting schedule in the district.

"One of our goals is to eliminate some meetings, some redundancy of meetings, not only the board but also internally here with QPS," Webb said.

The District Improvement Team will meet quarterly, beginning in June, which also will act as the board's Curriculum Committee and Discipline Committee meetings.

The team will look at school improvement plans and student growth results in June; Illinois Assessment of Readiness results and teacher/staff morale in September; school improvement updates and mid-year student growth, discipline and attendance metrics in January; and new courses or textbooks for 2020-21 in April.

"This is going to be structured more that it's the principals' meeting in order to tell how their schools are doing, their action plans to fix concerns or improve their schools and talk about resources and things they need from the board and the district office," Webb said.

Also Wednesday, Webb outlined potential concerns with continued funding for the district's 21st Century grant which funds before and after school academic and credit recovery activities at Quincy High School and Quincy Junior High School.

"We were going to receive it again, but we've heard some concern it may be cut as a federal program," Webb said.

The grant provides $270,000 to the district, and if that funding is not available, QPS will need to fund at least some of the programs on its own.

In other action, the Quincy School Board:

Approved a lease/indemnification agreement and pledge agreement tied to a $1.38 million athletic facility at Flinn Stadium.

Agreed to boost lunch prices by 10 cents for students and 50 cents for adults in the 2019-20 school year. With the change, the prices will be $2.60 for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, $2.85 for grades 6 to 12 and $3.35 for adults.

Adopted a recommendation from the Curriculum Committee to count marching band as a physical education credit at Quincy High School. The change, effective for the 2019-20 school year, will give students enrolled in marching band more flexibility in their class schedules.

Agreed to offer JROTC beginning in the 2020-21 school year at QHS and one section of a bridge course to be offered in 2019-20, which will be taught by a QPS teacher who is a lieutenant in the Army Reserves. The U.S. Army contacted QHS about offering ROTC as a leadership opportunity for students.

Accepted a $729,673.05 bid from sole bidder Kohl Wholesale for food and nonfood items for fall semester 2019-20 and a $228,523.755 escalator milk bid from sole bidder Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. but rejected the sole produce and bread bids.

Adopted a recommendation from the Building Committee to approve health life safety projects for new exhaust for the diesel mechanics classroom and to improve the woodworking classroom at QHS and a separate project to install railings in the bleachers at Flinn Stadium.