Superintendent's Blog

This past winter, members of our staff and community gave us valuable feedback concerning how to make continuous, system-wide, and systemic improvements to our school district.  The response rate from all of our stakeholders was excellent and we received a great deal of productive feedback that we will now use to strengthen the programs and services that we offer to our students.  At our April 20 Board of Education meeting, Dr. Lori Carlin, Senior Researcher from K12 Insight, presented the summary findings from the School Quality and District Plan Survey (please click on BOE Presentation South Orangetown_School Quality Report to see the presentation of the survey results).

We find it encouraging that the strong majority of participants in all four respondent groups (parents, students, staff, and community) rated the quality of their school or their child’s school as excellent or good:

Beyond this, we learned a great deal from the survey through the many valuable comments and suggestions offered to us by our stakeholders.  The following is an overview of these suggestions from the parents, students, community, and staff.  This is a summary of the findings that will guide our improvement efforts:


Please tell us how your school can improve.

Enrichment: Many parents expressed support and appreciation for the enrichment opportunities provided by SOCSD. Several parents indicated that equity in signing up for events should be explored, as well as expanding the offerings.

Communication: Many parents said they need enhanced and timely communication from the district and teachers. Parents expressed frustration with seldom-updated teacher portals and electronic vs. paper communications

Administration: Parents want more administrative visibility at events and more transparency in decision making.

Please share any other thoughts you have about your experiences this school year.

Appreciation: Many parents expressed gratitude for the educational opportunities provided to their children. Many parents highlighted athletics, arts, and specific academic programs that have a positive impact on their school experience.

Academics: Several parents would like to see technology limited in the classroom and return to “basics”, while others encouraged district leaders to continue exploring innovative teaching and learning methods.


Please share any other thoughts you have about your experiences this school year.

Appreciation: Many students said they feel supported, engaged, and challenged by their teachers and assignments. Students expressed their satisfaction with the school buildings, course offerings, and available extracurricular activities.

Facilities: Many students said they want better temperature control in classrooms.

Cafeteria Offerings: Many students would like enhanced offerings in school cafeterias. Students want more choices, especially fresh fruit, water, and fresh vegetables. Additionally, students expressed a desire for larger portions.


What do you think are the strengths of South Orangetown CSD?

Community Outreach: Many survey participants sited SOCSD’s commitment to community outreach as a significant strength.

Extracurricular Opportunities: Many community members identified strengths in athletic and arts programs offered for and by students.

Curriculum: Community members expressed support for the rigorous curriculum offerings presented by SOCSD.

How could SOCSD improve?

Communication: Community members would like to see better communication between the district and the community. Many community members would like more printed materials.

Budgeting: Community members would like to see more explanation of the district’s budget choices. Several community members want to see the district curtail technology spending and revert to the basics.

Personnel: Many community members expressed concerns


Please tell us how we can improve.

Professional Development: Employees would like additional professional development targeted to their needs. In particular, several want additional training in RTI and reading strategies.

Respect: Staff members feel supported by administration and look forward to developing a stronger working relationship with the BOE.

Personnel: Many employees want to see teaching assistants reinstated across grade levels.

Please share any other thoughts you have about your experiences this school year.

Appreciation: Many employees said they are extremely happy to work in SOCSD. They cited support from administrators, community, and parents as key reasons.


Next Steps:

Of course, our journey is just beginning.  Now that we have this data, it is important that we apply these findings in order to support the collective will of the community.  We have organized 5 Task Forces to analyze the survey results and to formulate solutions based on research and best-practices in the field of education.  These suggestions will be presented to the Board of Education in the coming weeks in order that we may develop near-term and long-term improvement plans towards:

  • Promoting Academic Success
  • Developing Human Resources and Professional Capacity
  • Improving Communication and Foster Community Engagement
  • Ensuring the Health and Safety of our School Community
  • Developing Management Systems (controls) that Emphasize Quality Control and Continuous Improvement

There will also be focus groups conducted on Wednesday, April 26, with middle and high school students.  The focus group reporting will be provided to district leadership along with survey results.

Prior to June 2017, the Leadership Team will design and deliver the final strategic plan, roll-out strategy and monitoring process to the Board of Education.  I would like to personally thank each of you who took the time to complete the 2016-17 School Quality Survey…your thoughtful responses will serve as the basis for our continuous improvement processes going forward.  While we are pleased at the overall “high marks” that we’ve received from our stakeholders, we also know that there are areas upon which we can (and will) improve.

Together We Can

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