It is my sincerest hope that the summer break has been good for our students and families as we look to soon begin another school year. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to share information related to the Jamestown School District. My focus for this letter is on two major updates: the JPS strategic plan and schedule changes resulting from HB 1346.
In the last school year, the district spent a considerable amount of time drafting a strategic plan that will guide Jamestown Public Schools over the next five years. Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations and ensure that all stakeholders are working toward common goals. As such, the JPS Strategic Plan is a living document that is used to communicate our goals, priorities and the metrics used to measure progress.
The strategic focus for the district will be centered upon six goal areas: Academic Engagement and Personalized Learning, Professional Learning and Development, Social-Emotional Learning, Resource Management and Planning, Engagement in Extra and Co-Curricular Activities, and Continuous Improvement and Data-Driven Decision-Making. Within these goal areas are 50 objectives that the district wants to accomplish to meet our mission of “Engaging students with challenging and innovative experiences to prepare them for future success.” A full review of the strategic plan can be found online at https://www.jamestown.k12.nd.us/boe/district-strategic-planning/index. You can also receive a hardcopy or pdf version by request at Robert.Lech@k12.nd.us.
I also want to call your attention to a legislative change that will impact our calendar and daily schedule. Prior to this upcoming school year, requirements for school districts were determined by days of attendance. This became somewhat inequitable as school schedules varied by school districts. It also provided very little flexibility to change our schedule to support professional learning for teachers or to accommodate for challenging weather conditions. As a result, the legislature wisely transitioned North Dakota to hour requirements, which is similar to many other states across the country.
There are, however, impacts to our schedule and calendar that parents need to be aware of. First, the flexibility provided by this change will allow the district to provide important teacher planning time across the district that is embedded into our school day. The high school has been piloting this concept with a late start on Wednesdays. The district is researching how to best implement this concept at the elementary and middle school levels as well. We anticipate piloting late starts on Wednesdays at the middle school and elementary schools in the first semester. Specifics will be communicated to you through your child’s school.
It is important to note, however, that late starts will be implemented with the least amount of confusion and conflict for families. If you need to drop your child off at 8 a.m., you will still be able to do so. Buses will run at normal times for rural and city. Staff will be in place to provide enrichment and other activities while the teachers are involved with professional learning and collaboration. If you would prefer to keep your child at home and drop them off before the school day starts on late start days, that is certainly allowable also.
There are also schedule changes that will need to be implemented across the district to meet the new requirements. The most significant is that the hourly requirement for middle school students has increased. While further information will be forthcoming from the middle school and high school administration there are changes to the middle school and high school daily schedules. Our school day at JMS will be from 8:20 – 3:20. This will cause a slight change at the high school as well with the school day now ending at 3:15 to accommodate busing. There will be no schedule changes at the elementary schools.
One other positive benefit to this legislation is that many of storm days we take due to inclement weather would not need to be made up because our school day exceeds the hour requirements. Essentially, we are able to bank hours beyond what is required and use them in the event of emergency or inclement weather. While we will likely keep storm days in our calendar for this year, there is a strong likelihood we will not need to use them.
Thank you to our staff, parents, students, school board and the Community of Jamestown for making the Jamestown Public School District a district of choice. We are fortunate to have such a strong educational foundation for our students and that starts with the support we receive from the community. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call at the district office at 252-1950, reach out to me through email at Robert.Lech@k12.nd.us, or stop by the office for a visit.