Superintendent Dr. Romain Dallemand and the Bibb County School District are embarking on a process unused by school districts across the country. Rather than setting the educational direction and goals using a small, core group of administrators, he has been working since his first day in the District to engage the entire
community in the process.
"We must be committed to students, their achievement, and meeting their individual needs, and that is going to take dedication and effort from every person in our community," says Dr. Dallemand. "By engaging all
stakeholders, we will be better able to identify the needs of our children and how those needs can best be met."
On September 19 and October 10, 2011
, he is inviting parents, community and business leaders, politicians, faith-based representatives, and every employee to be a part of the Strategic Planning Process. To be unveiled in January 2012, the Strategic Plan will guide the change and improvement needed during the next five years in order to ensure all
children receive a high-quality education that will prepare them to be competitive and successful in a global economy.
Being held at the Macon Centreplex from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. on September 19
, Bibb County will hear from Anthony Muhammad, one of the most sought after educational consultants in North America. An educator for more than 20 years - serving as a classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal at both the middle and high school level - Muhammad has diligently worked to define the kinds of strategies that effective leaders take to build synergy in their faculties.
The Macon Centreplex is located at 200 Coliseum Drive in Macon, GA. Directions can be found by clicking here
In the afternoon, facilitators will work with participants in breakout sessions to begin determining where student achievement needs to be in five years, and what resources and support can be leveraged to get them there. This process will continue on October 10.
"It is my goal - and the goal of our District - that we lead the nation in student achievement and education innovation," says Dr. Dallemand. "I look forward to working with the entire community as we commit ourselves to students and move our community forward through education."
To begin the community conversation about some of the immediate changes that can be made in the District, Dr. Dallemand has been meeting with organizations and asking them to start thinking about the following changes:
• School choice - Students would be allowed to choose which school they attend, regardless of attendance zone, and schools would have an international focus so students can be competitive globally. All schools must be highly effective schools in order to keep students engaged, whether that’s an International Baccalaureate school, a fine arts school, an engineering school, or a sports academy.
The Need for Change
• Year-round school - The community must seriously consider year-round school with quarterly assessments for all students. This will combat the "brain drain" of the summer months and allow educators to meet students’ academic needs throughout the year, as opposed to waiting for state-mandated testing.
• Teaching Mandarin Chinese and using technology - Students would be required to be proficient in three languages when they graduate - English, technology, and Mandarin Chinese - if they are going to be successful. Students must be prepared to be competitive in their world not ours.
Disaggregating the data about student achievement and listening to all stakeholders, it became clear that the District was failing to meet the needs of a majority of students. While many success stories and high-achieving students could be put forth as examples of what is possible, it was obvious that education and those opportunities were not being provided to all students.
"What we were doing here for children was not systemic. We cannot consider ourselves successful if we fail to prepare even one child for success." says Dr. Dallemand. "Our students don’t face an achievement gap as espoused by education analysts; they face an opportunity gap because if they are not prepared for success, then they will have fewer opportunities than their peers."
Some of the indicators showing a need for fundamental change in the Bibb County School District include:
• a 44.6% graduation rate for the 2007-2008 9th grade cohort;
• 703 students who dropped out of school in 2010-2011;
• 493 students expelled in 2010-2011; and
• 7,914 students suspended in 2010-2011.
"In a district of less than 25,000, we are suspending almost one third of them, and we lost or got rid of another 1,200." says Dr. Dallemand. "This is unacceptable, but what should be an eye-opener for our community is that, in four years, we are graduating less than half of our ninth grade students."
"It is obvious that what we are doing is not working, and a new direction must be taken," he adds. "That work is going to take a commitment by more than just me, our administrators, or our teachers. It is going to take the will, the effort, the engagement, and the support of our entire community."
To read more about the need for change, click here
for an entry on Dr. Dallemand’s blog, Compass Points.
Ongoing Community Engagement
Though the Strategic Planning Process officially begins with the session on September 19, Dr. Dallemand has spent seven months meeting with every employee in the District - as well as parents and community leaders - to hear their opinions of the schools. Using individual meetings, small focus groups, large forums, and online surveys, he collected data and information about the District, including: student achievement data; parent, community, and employee perceptions; areas of strength and weakness; and community resources not being used.
Communication is a cornerstone of Dr. Dallemand’s administration and is playing an integral role in making the fundamental change needed to improve our children’s education. It began with his Entry Plan
as he visited every school in the District and hosted six Forums for more than 900 people to voice their concerns. It continues with the Community Conversation Plan
that will allow District leadership to continue receiving feedback throughout this process.
"I truly believe that every child in Bibb County can be successful, and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to build a system and community that is committed to all
students and gives them the education, tools, resources, and support they need," says Dr. Dallemand.