Test scores to improve,  new school chief says

Superintendent will oversee new math program this fall

Steve Schultz expects test scores and content standards to rise in School District 51 in the near future.

He has reasons, personal and professional, to advocate for the district’s success.

Schultz will serve at the district’s helm as superintendent for at least the next three years, per his contract.

Schultz’s contract went into effect this morning, bumping him from assistant superintendent into predecessor Tim Mills’ chair at the top. Mills will also start a new job today, as superintendent of North Clackamas School District in Milwaukie, Ore.

On paper, Schultz’s job involves vacation days, a monthly vehicle allowance of $700 and a pay grade jump from $127,413 a year to $150,000 a year. The job will include supervising the largest groups of employees in Mesa County, presenting a report at every school board meeting, and meeting the expectations of parents and students from Mack to Palisade and the Bookcliffs to Gateway, among other tasks.

Schultz said during an editorial board meeting with The Daily Sentinel he believes the district will see improved Colorado Student Assessment Program test scores during his tenure. Scores dipped or remained stagnant over the past five years. But third-grade reading results, which are released earlier than other CSAP scores, showed improvement this year. Schultz said this is a sign that a new reading program implemented at all District 51 schools and at all grade levels in fall 2007 is paying off.

A new math program will start this fall, and a science model is in the works.

“We’ll see improvement every year, but it takes two to three years for a new teaching method to take hold,” Schultz said.

No Child Left Behind legislation has set the goal of all students nationwide reaching state standards (at least partially proficient in Colorado) in math and reading on state assessments such as CSAP.

That goal hasn’t been accomplished yet, but Schultz said, “We need to keep striving for that.”

Aids to that effort may include adding more school days — the district added two days for next year, and Schultz said he is willing to send kids to school for 200 or more days a year — and getting growth model data for the first time this year, Schultz said. The growth model will track student progress from year to year rather than show grade-level results as CSAP results are presented to the public.

Speaking of growth, Schultz would like to add more schools. The district predicted zero growth for this fall when crafting the 2009-10 budget.

But Schultz said more students may come. On top of that, he said schools already lack elbow room. Making another attempt at a school bond issue may come in 2010 or later, he said.

“I’d be surprised if we weren’t back in three years” with a bond issue, Schultz said.

While there will be no ballot issue this year, there will be a search for Schultz’s replacement as assistant superintendent.

The search will be posted and available to candidates worldwide beginning in November.

The search will not take place sooner, in case an internal candidate is selected for the post and leaves behind another position, such as principal.

Then, the school that person served will not have to scramble for a replacement as the school year starts, Schultz said.


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