The Superintendent’s 2019-2020 School Year Wrap Up

The Superintendent’s 2019-2020 School Year Wrap Up
Posted on 06/08/2020
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What will you remember most about COVID-19 and this very unusual school year? For me, it was the news reports from China that were like a distant bell that became a gong. When the virus finally hit the US, our schools closed until further notice on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Families used a drive-up system to collect the materials and computer devices they needed. Virtual school and a free meal distribution program started the very next day.  It is still a “wow” for me.

Above all, we would like to thank our students, parents, and staff members for their understanding and hard work while we stayed safe-at-home. We are grateful for the cooperation and flexibility to do things in new ways. As we close out this historic year, I would like to highlight some of our work:

Strategic Plan

Five years ago, we embarked on a critical process to create a Strategic Plan. The result was a concise two-page plan we have been using to help guide our decision making. This year, we revised our plan for the next five years. HERE

Deeper Learning  

Again, we are incredibly proud of how hard families worked to be home instructors for their own children. The way our community came together to create a sense of belonging, build content knowledge, and communicate in new ways through technology was amazing. HERE

Parent Satisfaction Survey Results  

We are pleased to share our Spring-2020 Parent Satisfaction Survey results HERE. There were 1,848 parents/caregivers who participated in this year’s survey administration (780 fewer participants than in the previous survey most likely due to the COVID-19 disruption).  

As part of our survey campaign, we are happy to announce the three schools with the highest percentage of participation were Jefferson Elementary School, General Mitchell Elementary School, and Walker Elementary School. These schools will receive $1,000 to use for a student-related activity in the coming year.

Our District’s overall satisfaction mean was 4.03 (an increase from 3.87 in 2019). The data and comments will continue to play a role in our strategic planning and continuous improvement. Taking the time to tell us what is going well and what can be improved helps guide our decisions -- thank you.

Employee Engagement Results

Our Spring-2020 Employee Engagement Survey Results are HERE. Overall mean for the Employee Engagement survey was 3.75. This was an increase of 0.23 from the fall survey.   

Budget Update 

As you know, we have been working very hard to strengthen our financial position. We now have a healthy Fund Balance of $18 million in our general fund. (Our Fund Balance reduces our need to short term borrow and pay interest.) While this is an achievement of which we can all be proud, there still is work to do; our goal is to reach a Fund Balance of $21 million and to improve our credit rating.  

Like all districts, we had some unexpected expenditures during COVID-19. To ensure that our students could continue learning, we distributed electronic devices, chargers, and hotspots (for equitable access to the internet). We also purchased personal protective equipment and additional cleaning/disinfecting supplies for our facilities department. 

Now -- because of the economic shutdown this spring and impact on school funding -- we are vetting purchase requests to ensure they are critical to operations. We also have a hiring freeze in place and at this time, we’re only filling high demand vacancies (e.g, science, math, and Career-Technology-Education, etc.).  

We remain cautious as we plan for the 2020-2021 budget and beyond. We know budget factors (e.g., state per-pupil funding) may fluctuate. Our Board of Education is working through preliminary budget scenarios and remains committed to being fiscally responsible while prioritizing the needs of our learners and staff. 

Summer School   

As we progress through the challenges of COVID-19, we continue to make decisions in the best interest of the health and safety of our staff, students, parents, and community. For now, our schools and playgrounds remain closed to the public until further notice.  We are offering virtual summer school (with computer devices for students that need them) for all grade levels.  HERE   

Free Meal Distribution Continues

Free meal distribution will continue this summer with healthy grab and go meals for any child 18 years and younger. Drive through or walk up service is available and children do not need to be enrolled in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District or live in the communities we serve to be eligible. Any child or adult with a child in need of meals is welcome. HERE

An Ending and a New Normal in the Fall

This fall, we’re prepared to help students learn whether they’re at home or at school, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure our students stay on track and life ready when they graduate. Please look for surveys in the coming weeks through which we will gather feedback from staff and parents on our school plans for fall. We will communicate our plan for returning to school during the first week of August. We face challenges together even if we’re apart. 

I offer my best wishes to the Class of 2020 as they begin pursuing their dreams. While commencement will be different this year, we are working to make it forever memorable. The Class of 2020 has strength, tenacity and a bright future ahead.  We look forward to our Senior Salute Commencements in July. Check out these incredible video messages to our fifth and eighth graders and the Senior Shout Outs -- they are all amazing.  HERE

Again, I want to thank our families, students, and staff for all they have done during this historic year. I believe we can all be proud of how we transitioned through a challenging time. Hopefully lots of sunny, warm days ahead will make it a safe (at home) and enjoyable summer for all!