By Karen Daniels
The Stafford School Board of Trustees unanimously approved a contract with the Leadership and Learning Center last week to provide instructional staff development for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. Proposed by Superintendant Lance Hindt, the program consists of intense consulting with teachers to develop a customized curriculum that goes beyond taking tests and reading scores.
The Lead and Learn program comes with a hefty price of just over $645,000, but according to Stafford MSD, no budget increase is needed and no bond money will be used to pay for this. The contract will be paid over a three-year period in the following manner: this year SMSD will pay $65,000, next year $350,000, and the third year $230,000. The Superintendant has $350,0000 in the annual budget for “Staff Development” and has requested the same amount for next year’s budget. (Which will be voted on in August.)
Sustainable success seems to be the Lead and Learn motto, and while there is no magic bullet for school districts, their two year support for schools–beginning this summer–allows the work to go beyond the seminar experience. Superintendant Hindt explains, “I have never been an advocate of the hit and miss approach many school systems take when providing development opportunities for staff.” For this plan to be truly successful, the Board members pointed out, all teachers need to be on board to embrace change and the plan must engage the students. The difference, according to Lead and Learn, is that their method allows for the individual needs of the child to be met, instead of addressing the class as a whole.
Fort Bend ISD began using this same program in 2007 and their Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Olwen Herron, had this to say. “Over the past five years, the (Fort Bend) District has seen continuous improvement in student achievement and made significant progress in closing the achievement gap. The strategies put in place through Lead and Lean have supported these efforts.”
Currently, SMSD is rated by the TEA as “Academically Acceptable.” If the cost of the program is broken down over a two-year period, the price-per-child is only $100, a bargain if the rating is upgraded to “Academically Recognized.”