New QPS committee reviews school improvement plans

Quincy High School Principal Jody Steinke makes a point as he reviews the building’s school improvement plan with the District Improvement Committee. The committee, which met for the first time on Thursday, combines the former Curriculum and Discipline committees with the District Improvement Team. | H-W Photo/Deborah Gertz Husar
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 21, 2019 12:40 pm Updated: Jun. 22, 2019 12:23 am

QUINCY -- School improvement plans across Quincy Public Schools carry some similarities, including more efforts to meet social-emotional needs of students and families.

But School Board member Sheldon Bailey focuses on the differences in the plans from building to building.

What Superintendent Roy Webb "is asking the district to do and the board is asking the district to do is tailor the need to the individual school a little more than we have done in the recent past," Bailey said.

The district still has its core instructional curriculum to follow and Illinois standards to teach in the proper sequence, but "we really are allowing classroom teachers and principals to determine how best to teach that to the strength of their teams," Bailey said. "Our hope is in giving that classroom teacher a little more autonomy that we're hoping to get better performance, better learning from our students."

The QPS District Improvement Committee, chaired by Bailey and fellow board member Shelley Arns, reviewed school improvement plans Thursday in its first-ever meeting.

The new committee combines the former Curriculum and Discipline committees with the District Improvement Team and shifts the focus to schools and their plans, programs and innovations.

Webb said the committee will work toward two major School Board goals of student achievement and staff retention/morale.

"We're here to support, facilitate and resource," Webb said. "We're not here to really question your plan or say ‘no you're not going to do that.' This is your plan."

The committee will meet quarterly on Thursdays.

The focus will be school improvement plans and an update on growth, attendance and discipline in June and January; an update on student achievement, teacher retention and the 5Essentials in September and the district improvement plan and curriculum changes in April.

Committee members heard highlights of school improvement plans from administrators at the district's 10 locations -- Quincy High School, Quincy Area Vocational Technical Center, ABC (Academic Behavior and Community) Academy/Adams County Regional Safe Schools, Quincy Junior High School, the Early Childhood and Family Center and Baldwin, Denman, Iles, Lincoln-Douglas and Rooney Elementary Schools.

"They're recognizing here's our situation, here's our strengths, some things we could do better at and our ‘hot rocks,' areas that really need to be concentrated on," Bailey said. The committee will recommend approval of the plans by the School Board, which meets next week.

The presentations also highlighted a stronger sense of community, especially at the K-5 level, after the transition to new learning communities.

"It's nice to see that is working," Bailey said. "They can turn their attention more back on how do we make this school stronger, how can we be better for our kids."