The Tri-City United school district sets new goals for itself each fall, but not before reflecting on the previous academic year and evaluating what it achieved.
For academic year 2018-19, the district focused largely on completing building projects paid for by the bond referendum at each of the four TCU sites, fulfilling its voter-approved plan.
“There’s still work to do, but the key is being able to start the school year in a healthy and safe learning environment, and work within bond referendum plans and processes,” said Superintendent Teri Preisler, who considers the district goals her own as well.
The district kept the community informed of the building process each step of the way, stayed within the budget, allowed for staff input and addressed long-term facilities maintenance concerns when possible during renovations. In so doing, the district deemed the goal accomplished.
Another major area of focus for the district last year involved work within the district’s Strategic Operational Plan, which guides decision-making for Preisler and staff members. Where some goals change from year to year, Preisler said Strategic Operational Planning work will continue as part of ongoing goals.
The TCU school district also followed through with conducting a Profile of a Graduate survey of TCU alumni, parents/guardians, community members and students. The district compiled data from this survey to create a vision of expectations for a TCU graduate. The results, said Preisler, validated that TCU alumni found their alma mater’s college in the schools courses, personal finance, life skills, and agriculture courses most helpful after high school.
To further help close the achievement gap, TCU Schools continued to implement Professional Learning Communities at all four sites. These communities proved successful last year, when the district’s proficiency increased in reading according to Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results.
The district also opened up more opportunities to students with access to Minnesota Department of Education Achievement and Integration aid, which supports the expansion of AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). This made it possible to implement AVID elective courses in grades seven through 10 with an emphasis on career exploration.
Preisler said TCU School Board members were pleased with the progress made in the district last year.
“Were stretching to meet our goals,” said School Board member Michelle Borchardt, of Lonsdale. “We’re getting there, but we still have work to do to make sure we’re not missing anyone. The strategic planning we went through last year we focused … less about procedure and more about the people. Now with finishing our buildings, it’s time to really focus on what we’re doing inside those buildings.”
The cycle continues when the board approves new goals at a future meeting.
“This year we’re going to focus on improving what we’re doing rather than brand new things,” said Preisler. “We had a lot of changes last year, and it’s important to embed that into the daily experience for students, staff and families.”