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10 Takeaways from the 2020 State of the District

January 16, 2020

SGFCSD LogoWe believe in our students, we believe in our community and we believe in the work that we do.

Midway through the 2019-20 school year, Superintendent of Schools Kristine Orr provided a “State of the District” presentation—a conversation about current enrollment, demographics, academic programming and what she’s looking forward to for the second half of the year.

“As we wind down on our current capital project and take stock of what we’ve accomplished this year, one thing is true: we continue to focus our energy on safety, mental health and future-ready learning while implementing appropriate support for staff and students,” Orr said.

Here are 10 takeaways from the presentation.

#1: Every student should feel safe in our schools.
Safety improvements that the district is working on this year include been added this year include a School Resource Officer through the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, the addition of a second assistant principal at the high school to help support students and the traditional school safety drills. At South Glens Falls High School, students are also participating in conversations about safety, helping administrators understand the student perspective and their concerns about it.

This year, the district has been focusing on its safety planning. In addition to crisis scenario communications planning and safety audits, the high school is engaging students in planning and seeking feedback about drills from students. The district has also conducted a building condition survey to look at necessary site adjustments, secure vestibules and traffic patterns. The district still has a partnership with the Saratoga County Sheriff for a School Resource Officer. Finally, as a result of changes to the state’s cybersecurity and information laws surrounding school districts, the district has appointed a data privacy officer and continues to focus on securing systems and data.

#2: The mental health needs of our students and staff are critical to the district’s overall success.
Based on the recommendations of the districtwide Mental Health Task Force, the district hired two new social workers this year. This ensures that every elementary building has one social worker assigned to it. The district also added a second counselor through the Saratoga Center for the Family. In addition to staff, several elementary school classrooms are piloting the social-emotional education program Open Circle.

#3: Our students should be engaged in their learning.
This fall, the district was named to the League of Innovative, a national network of forward-thinking education leaders who work to improve outcomes for students and solve challenges facing K-12 schools through innovation and technology. Other innovative programs include a new sensory room at Moreau Elementary School, which is a pilot room for the other schools in the district. The sensory room includes comforting high-tech and low-tech options for individuals to use to calm and recenter themselves.

#4: The district continues to monitor enrollment to ensure sound decision-making.
The district’s projected 10-year in-district student enrollment is expected to remain steady with some slight growth. Right now, the district’s enrollment is 2,921, and the projected enrollment for the 2027-28 school year is 3,205. The district has seen increases in the number of economically disadvantaged students, which is currently 1,089, or 37 percent of students. The number of preschool students with disabilities in 113 and the district currently has 67 students who are classified as homeless.

#5: Graduation rate has remained mostly steady for the past 3 years; number of Advanced Regents Diplomas earned increased slightly.
The graduation rate for the Class of 2017 was 89 percent, while the rate for the Class of 2019 was 86 percent. We are proud of this accomplishment, and remain dedicated to ensuring that every student completes high school. In addition, the district is making strides to increase the number of students graduating with a Regents and Advanced Regents diplomas. The Class of 2018 had 43 percent earn an Advanced Regents Diploma, while the Class of 2019 had 48 percent earn an Advanced Regents Diploma.

#6: SGF students have access to a wide array of opportunities – and they are taking advantage of them!
Student programs and opportunities continue to grow. Each year the high school adjusts its course offerings, and new courses this year include arts and technology options.The district offers 24 high school honors and advanced placement courses, 18 college-credit bearing courses, 34 career and technical education courses through BOCES and 8 additional programs that offer specialized career training. This past spring, the South Glens Falls High School Drama Club received a record eight nominations in the third annual High School Musical Theatre Awards for its production of Seussical and won in the category of best actress and best musical tier C.

#7: Student and staff needs are reviewed regularly and the needs grow each year.
“The district has 509 staff members as well as contractual services and they each perform critical functions to support the success of our district,” Orr said. Conversations between administrators and the board of education about enrollment and student needs, including social-emotional, academic support and economic disadvantages, help develop the full picture of staffing we need to best serve students. Considerations for the future include a human resources employee who can help the district manage staff trainings and mandates, conflict resolution and support, hiring, retention and exit interviews.

#8: The district is focused on providing the best possible student opportunities, while being sensitive to spending, taxes and fiscal stability.
The district’s fundamental principles for critical decision making remains the same: to provide the best education possible while being sensitive to overall fiscal health and taxpayer contribution. The eight-year average increase of district tax rate increase is 2.79 percent per year, and the district remains committed to being sensitive to taxpayer needs during its budget development process. As the district looks to that process for the 2020-21 school year, Orr said the board and administration will look at how to reallocate and ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars.

#9 The vision of the 2015 capital project for programs and facilities is emerging as each stage of the project is completed.
The district’s current capital project, approved by the voters in 2015, is nearing completion. This fall, the high school’s eight-classroom addition, new bus loop and new athletic fields opened. Ballard and Tanglewood elementary schools have had library, art, and music rooms redone, and Tanglewood’s septic system was updated. This summer the district’s administrative office building will be moving to the high school. The district is already planning a new round of capital improvements. The community can look for information about upcoming community meetings on capital planning.

#10 A solid vision for student, staff, and fiscal wellness is important to keep the district moving forward.
The district approaches long-range planning by looking at programming, facilities and feedback from students, staff and the community.

Category: Ballard News, District News, Harrison Ave News, Moreau News, SGFalls HS News, Tanglewood News, Winch MS News