2000-10-14 / Columnists

Focus On 27 Community School District News and Notes By Matthew Bromme Community Superintendent

Focus On 27
Community School District News and Notes
By Matthew Bromme
Community Superintendent

On September 2, 1999, I assumed the position of acting superintendent of District 27. In April of 2000, I was appointed the superintendent of District 27. In the next few paragraphs I would like to detail to you some of the changes we have made and will be making to improve the instructional program for the children in District 27.

One of my major goals has been, and always will be, to create a partnership with all members of the District 27 community. In partnership with the local community school board members, we the educational leaders, have attempted to improve many facets of the educational programs in District 27.

District 27 is approximately 90 square miles. In some areas of this district, the overcrowding of our schools forces us to bus thousands of children on a daily basis to underutilized schools. We can not have parents purchase homes across the street from what would be their zoned schools to have their children attend schools miles away. Overcrowding has also prevented us from reducing class size and forced children in one family to attend different schools based on space. We are moving to end that practice.

Therefore, one of our first priorities was to begin an aggressive plan to build schools and building additions. In one year, we have begun the process to build three new schools (one middle school in the Richmond Hill section of the district, one elementary school in the Far Rockaway community and one other elementary school in the Woodhaven/Richmond Hill section). We have also planned additions at numerous elementary schools.

District 27’s children were not performing well on standardized examinations. When we assumed the leadership of the district, there was no comprehensive plan to help children meet the standards for promotion. We have now put into place a district wide test preparation program. We have related the testing program to the subject matter students must master in order to be promoted. We need to not only raise scores, we need to raise our expectations for all of our students to perform and demonstrate the same skills as any other child in any other district. We can no longer be satisfied with our children failing. Our district scores did improve last year, however, we as a community can never be satisfied until this district as a whole shows substantial growth. We need to hold everyone, including the professional staff, parents and children accountable and responsible for improving the educational programs in District 27.

We have implemented a comprehensive plan to restructure our staff development program. Every school was allocated a full time staff developer to help new teachers and senior teachers in their professional growth. We have also increased the number of assistant principals to improve not only the instructional program, but also to focus on the community’s concerns regarding school safety. There is a need for all of us in the community to come to the realization that children learn best in safe schools. I am dedicated to creating safer educational environments and I will take severe actions towards any professional that does not meet my expectations for ensuring our schools are safe educational havens.

As superintendent, I needed to make several difficult decisions in reviewing the leadership of the schools and the quality of the educators servicing our children. I truly believe that I am accountable and responsible to the District 27 community for improving the educational program in our district. I also believe that every principal is responsible for doing the same at the school level and every teacher is responsible for doing the same in the classroom. I have now made changes in leadership at several schools and at the district office. I have intentionally recruited many of these leaders from outside the district. In addition we have employed more than 300 new teachers in our district. To be successful, we will now need the parent community to work with these leaders and teachers to make sure their children come to school prepared to learn and that the children understand their responsibility to their family and community to be respectful and successful.

Parent involvement is very important to District 27. At our last district parent meeting, I had my staff call every PA president to make sure they were in attendance at our opening meeting. There is a need for District 27 to reach out to the parents and to make them feel welcomed in their child’s school. However, there is also a need for parents to understand that the educators are in charge of the school and the principal is the person I will hold accountable and responsible for developing a strong educational program.

Finally, we recognized in our new administration that for several years the district office was an unfriendly environment to community leaders and parents. The district leadership chose not to reach out to elected officials and community organizations. We have and will continue to reach out to all groups that can help move the educational agenda for District 27. The legislators that service District 27 have been very generous with their help, assistance and ability to bring funding to our schools. We have a partnership with them and with many local arts agencies, community based organizations, tenant associations, etc. Our goal is not only to continue those partnerships but also to increase them.

We have a long journey before us. I have a passion for moving this district forward. I constantly speak to my staff and school based staff members of that passion to move our educational agenda forward. I ask that everyone focus on the children we serve and not on past history or on our differences. We need to view this community as one community and we need to make sure that every school, no matter what its geographic location in District 27, produces the safest and most educationally productive programs for our children. That is our goal. Please help us achieve that goal by demonstrating your passion to our children for their success. We hold their future in our hands.

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