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We believe in SGF! Here’s 10 takeaways from the 2019 State of the District

January 18, 2019

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

Midway through the 2018-19 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.

“Most importantly, I believe in SGF!” Orr said. “I am excited about the path of our district right now. Not only are we in a good position financially, but our academic programs are stronger than ever. We’ve done a significant amount of work on our three priorities, safety, mental health and future-ready learning, and I’m excited to work we will do during the second half of the year.”

Here are 10 takeaways from the presentation.

#1: Every student should feel safe in our schools.

Safety improvements that have 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.

#2: The mental health needs of our students and staff are critical to the district’s overall success.

In addition to adding specialized staff to help students’ mental health needs, the district currently has a Mental Health Task Force that is reviewing the mental health offerings and looking at ways to improve services for students as well as staff.

Superintendent of Schools Kristine Orr presents the State of the District.

Superintendent of Schools Kristine Orr presents the State of the District.

#3: Our students should be engaged in their learning.

This year, all students in grades 6-12 have a district-issued Chromebook that they are using for their schoolwork. Model Classrooms have been added in every building. These rooms are based on three founding principles: students need a comfortable environment to learn; technology should be readily available and used on a daily basis; and third and most important is the use of instructional strategies that make the student environment look and feel different. Hand-in-hand with the technology upgrades has been professional development for our staff so that instruction shifts to incorporate technology in the most effective way.

#4: Enrollment trends have been consistent for the last several years.

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 3,086, and the projected enrollment for the 2027-28 school year is 3,205. In the past few years, the number of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch has increased approximately 7 percent.

#5: Graduation rate has risen for the last 2 years!

The graduation rate for the Class of 2017 was 86 percent, while the rate for the Class of 2018 was 89 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.

#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. For example, this year, the district began offering International Baccalaureate coursework through a partnership with a neighboring district. Another example of arts programming—the district offers 25 K-12 music ensembles and 6 different drama productions. 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.

#7 Student-to-staff ratios are reviewed every year and adjusted based on needs – student needs continue to grow.

“Each person is important to our entire environment, including the unique skill sets that we need to make sure we maintain,” 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.

#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 majority of the district’s spending is driven by salary and benefits, simply because the district is “a people business.” The seven-year average increase of district tax rate increase is 3.11 percent per year, and the district remains committed to being sensitive to taxpayer needs during its budget development process.

#9 The capital project vision for programs and facilities is starting to emerge as we finish each stage of the project.

The district’s current capital project, approved by the voters in 2015, is nearing completion. The new transportation/operations & maintenance building fully opened in January. This month, the six-wing capital project at Ballard Elementary School and two Tanglewood Elementary School classrooms will open. “It is important to have a solid vision that keeps the district moving forward,” Orr said. “Keeping future needs at the forefront of each conversation helps us understand what we need to be doing to ensure future growth,” Orr said. Learn more about the capital project here.

#10 A solid vision for student, staff, and fiscal wellness is important to keep the district moving forward.

The district approaches long-range planning from a variety of angles by looking at programming, facilities and feedback from staff and students. “We will always work to preserve quality programs and services for students through innovative practices,” Orr said. The district will also continue to monitor and ensure its financial sustainability and improve efficiency and effectiveness while lowering costs. The district will continue to ask: How do we think out of the box for students with unique needs? How do we have enough staff to ensure we are adequately taking care of current and new buildings? And finally, through communications, the district will continue to ask for feedback from stakeholders.

View a PDF of the presentation here.

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