Platte County R-3 administrators review improvement plan with patrons

Platte County R-3 administrators and officials took another chance to provide patrons with highlights of its Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP), while also taking the opportunity to hear ideas, criticisms and complaints.

For the third straight year, the district hosted a stakeholder feedback night, and a group of citizens helped crowd the forum room at Platte City Middle School on Tuesday, April 19.

Officials established a vision, mission and values five years ago and then established a CSIP to help guide academics, business and community — the ABC of how the district operates. 
In the final part of the two-part session, administrators conducted focus groups with those in attendance in an effort to receive input on how the vision, mission and values could be changed if necessary.

“This is a process for us that annually helps us revise and recalibrate our strategic plan,” Platte County superintendent Dr. Mike Reik said, “so your input will be vitally important.”

The feedback night falls under the planning portion of the CSIP.

The majority of the evening focused on providing examples of successful programs developed and practices implemented. Most of these were rehashes of updates given at regular Platte County Board of Education meetings and were general in nature.

The high school’s flexible personalized learning pilot (FPL), one-to-one technology program and an update on growth management were highlighted.

Introduced early this year, the FPL seeks to challenge the inherent structure of the school day, starting with a selected group of students for the upcoming school year. The pilot will take advantage of renovated space at the current Paxton Elementary, which will be annexed into the high school this fall.

Although this will only affect three periods of the traditional seven-period day, the administration wants to take a serious look at the format with the possibility of transitioning all classes to this type of flex scheduling if the system proves beneficial. Students will continue to receive the state-mandated classroom time and assessment but will approach the format from a different viewpoint.

Many schools use flexible scheduling models, but Platte County could be the first to combine it with a personalized learning aspect that allows students more freedom to choose how they spend their time.

“We’re all learners. We all learn from each other,” Platte County assistant superintendent Dr. Mike Brown said. “That’s really our job is to prepare our learners for success. We want to do it in a meaningful environment.”

The one-to-one technology implementation will start in the high school.

Each student will have a Google Chromebook that goes with them to class and at home at night. Techers will be encouraged to utilize the devices to enhance the learning experience while taking advantage

The district bought the Chromebooks after a teachers and students trialed three different tablets. The one-to-one could eventually extend to lower grade levels, pending on continued research and study of the cost and benefits.

“How many of you have bought a new cell phone, and you just want to play with it, don’t you?” said Shelli Baldwin, Platte County’s professional development and instructional technology coordinator. “That’s what they had to do to get to know it, and that’s what these students are going to have to do when they get the devices this next school year.”

Reik’s update on growth management and budgeting used Paxton as an example of the district planning ahead and attempting to minimize costs. Renovations on the building will be light, according to the district’s assessment, knowing that space will be used differently in the long term vs. how it is used beginning next year.

In addition, Reik revealed that the district had identified and researched available land, which helped lead to a recent gift of 80 acres to house a future middle school and high school in the southern portion of the district. MD Management made the donation in conjunction with an announcement of a Costco Wholesale store to be located at the intersection of N. Platte Purchase Drive and NW 88th Street right off of Highway 152.

The schools will be located on adjacent property with the developer hoping it spurs residential and commercial growth on its remaining land.

“If we didn’t have a long range plan, it would be easy for us to engage in a costly series of errors that we would end up redoing in the future,” Reik said. “This is why we have a long range facility plan.”

The district didn’t take questions but encouraged patrons in attendance to fill out provide cards with questions, complaints or ideas. Officials planned to respond to each question as necessary while using the information to help guide future decisions.

“The why we’re here is because our most important people in our school district are our children,” Brown said. “You guys know your children; you know what their needs are; you know what your needs are. We can’t be as good as we need to be without your feedback, and we truly consider your feedback a gift.”