FD seeking new state funds

The Fort Dodge Community School District is readying to apply for funds under the Iowa Teacher Leadership and Compensation System.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, the program will support one third of the state’s student population. Its second year will support the second third, and the third year will support the last third.

An FDCSD advisory committee of 10 educators and 10 administrators is drafting a proposal for meeting the goals set by the state’s educational reforms.

“Teacher Leadership has five main goal areas,” Robert Hughes, FDCSD assistant superintendent, said. “They want to attract the best teachers into the profession. They want to retain the most effective teachers. And they would like to increase the collaboration between teachers so we can find better professional growth. And most importantly, of course, is to increase student achievement, make sure we’re serving our students the very best possible.”

The deadline for the proposal is Jan. 31. Districts will be notified in March if they were approved.

The state offered three models for meeting the reforms, Hughes said.

“The first model is more incentive-based. Teachers are compensated proportionally to their ability levels,” he said. “The second model is an instructional coach model. Teachers move up into roles where they help do professional development for other teachers, similar to what a curriculum director does. The third model allows districts to create and propose their own modifications, in which we’ll be able to achieve those same five goals.”

The district is proposing a system of instructional coaches. For example, Stacey Cole, FDCSD director of instruction, curriculum and assessment, will be joined by an elementary and secondary director, Hughes said.

“They’ll kind of be executive instructional coaches,” he said. “And underneath each of those there will be a grade-level instructional coach. Those instructional coaches will go into classrooms. They’ll model. They’ll get to observe the teacher, make recommendations of different strategies that teacher could do to reach the kids. And then they’ll help support that teacher through a three to four week process to implement those strategies with the kids.”

The district would have 12 to 14 instructional coaches total, Hughes said.

An executive council, comprised of six members of the 20-member committee, will make the final recommendation to the FDCSD board, Hughes said.

“The initial draft will be made on the 20th, and be reviewed by the site-based council along with some parents and community members,” he said. “The final draft will be completed by the end of the month.”

The benefits will be many for the school district, Hughes said.

“It is a per-pupil amount of support. It ends up being a little bit over $1 million for the district to help support that school improvement effort,” he said. “It’s a very good windfall for the district, and especially because it will allow our teachers to be empowered more and get more professional growth opportunities so they can better serve our kids.”

Hughes is optimistic the FDCSD will be chosen.

“We are extremely hopeful,” he said. “We think we’ve laid out a very good application to get that support.”