Breckenridge Texan

BISD announces major reorganization changes

BISD announces major reorganization changes
May 15
06:42 2018

For a year and a half, the superintendent of the Breckenridge schools has been working on a plan to improve the district for everyone involved and to improve the quality of the education the students receive in the community. He discussed the situation with local residents and school board members, talking about what needs to be done to make learning better in Breckenridge.

Tim Seymore

On Friday, May 11, Breckenridge Independent School District Superintendent Tim Seymore revealed that plan in the form of a major reorganization for the district. He said the reorganization and restructure by the BISD Administration, in cooperation with the Board of Trustees, is part of an effort to better support students and staff.

In a phone interview with the Breckenridge Texan on Friday, Seymore said the reorganization was one of the BISD Board/Superintendent Goals that was adopted by the board at their meeting on Monday night. Although the board approved the realignment goal, the actual details of the realignment were left up to him.

Seymore was inspired by a quote from author and speaker Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” program, which he adapted. His adaptation, which is listed at the top of list of goals adopted by the board at last week’s meeting reads:

Create a place where the vast majority of students and staff wake up every single morning inspired to go to school, feel safe when they are there, and return home at the end of the day fulfilled by the work they are doing.

The plans call for a reorganization and realignment of roles and responsibilities for several positions within the school district. That realignment has changed the organizational chart, as follows:

  • Seymore will continue as Superintendent, serving as the district’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, overseeing finance, business office, and personnel.
  • Molly Johnson will serve as Chief Learning Officer. Currently, she is the director of curriculum and instruction and the ADA/Section 504 coordinator. In her new position, Johnson will oversee everything directly related to learning: teaching, curriculum, special programs, etc.
  • Current Breckenridge High School Principal Bryan Dieterich will become the Chief Operations Officer. He will oversee everything related to school operations: facilities, maintenance, transportation, food service, etc.
  • Additionally, the positions of Secondary and Elementary Directors of Learning have been created. Those two people will serve under the Chief Learning Officer and will have the specific responsibilities of Instructional Improvement (Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System) and Student Testing. Paul Armstrong, current Breckenridge High School assistant principal, will serve as Secondary Director of Learning. The Elementary Director of Learning has yet to be determined.

Seymore met with the BISD Board of Trustees in closed session during the April school board meeting to discuss personnel and the board/superintendent goals. Then, at the May meeting on Monday, the board voted to formally adopt the goals discussed in the April meeting.

Seymore said the response he has received from people he discussed the goals with has been overwhelmingly positive with no negatives, and BISD Board President Jeff Dooley said the board is very supportive of the new direction Seymore wants to take the district.

“We all think this is a great idea,” Dooley said. “We want students to learn because they want to learn, not because they have to. We want to make it where our kids want to come to school, make it where our teachers want to come to school. And when they (students) get out of school, they’re somebody a company wants to hire. I don’t usually speak for the board, but I can tell you that the board is 100 percent on board for this new direction.”

Although the board approved the plan, no board action was taken on the personnel movement because they are not new hires, Seymore said.

“They’re already on staff; I just reassigned them,” Seymore explained. “I have authority to do that, according to board policy. That wasn’t a board decision. It was my decision. They knew it was coming, but it was my decision.”

While he made the public announcement on Friday, the superintendent talked to the people involved in the realignment earlier in the week and they had talked to their staffs on Thursday.

Seymore said improving the instruction at BISD starts with creating a “learner profile” that is developed by determining the qualities, attributes, behaviors, skill sets, etc. they want students to possess. Then, everyone must ensure that everything they do at BISD is leading to achieving that.

He said he wants to work with community members, businesses, staff and students, to develop the learner profile for students to determine what makes up authentic learning and determine how kids learn best.

He said once they know what that learner profile is, they will then develop a learning profile of what real authentic learning looks like to achieve the goals defined by the learner profile.

“How does it happen? How do kids learn best?” Seymore said. “Then, once we kind of got that down, then that becomes what we do in our classrooms. That’ll become part of how we evaluate teachers. It’ll be how we recognize who our best teachers are because they do things that lead to real and authentic learning.”

There are many schools that use learning profiles, he said, but BISD needs to create its own.

“There are many (learning profiles) created by schools and communities,” he said. “But, we want our own; we want it to be Breckenridge’s, not somebody else’s.”

He said that since he’s been at BISD, the district has done a lot of work with facilities and getting things put back together that had been ignored for a long time; however, he doesn’t believe they’ve made the same level of improvements in instruction.

“I don’t believe that we have made vast improvements instructionally, that we are educating kids much better than we had been when I got here or even several years before that,” Seymore said. “Not much has changed. The goal is to get better at all of the things.”

According to a press release issued by Seymore on Friday, the purpose of the new Secondary and Elementary Directors of Learning positions is to provide more support for teachers through instructional coaching and teacher evaluations. As a side benefit, he said, principals, having been freed up from that responsibility, will be better able to support the other needs of students and staff on their campuses. Additionally, removing student testing responsibilities from the school counselors will allow them to better meet the students’ socio-emotional needs, the report stated.

Seymore said the principal at each school will still be responsible for hiring their teachers and will be the direct supervisors of the teacher. However, he said, shifting the teacher evaluations to the new Directors of Learning will allow principals to focus on other immediate issues at their schools, such as discipline.

He said the teacher appraisal system is extremely time-consuming and takes several hours for each appraisal. The process includes a pre-conference, appraisal, post-conference and all the documentation that goes with those three things.

“It’s getting more and more common that evaluators are not the principals because principals have so much else going on that can’t be scheduled,” he said. “Discipline things are not scheduled. When the principals are tied up in testing and evaluations, all kinds of stuff still happens on campuses that needs someone’s attention immediately.”

Additionally, he said while principals have varied skills in instruction, many of them have other experiences, like great administrative abilities, etc.

“We want the very best instructional people we have to be working with the teachers as instruction coaches and evaluators,” he said “The idea is not just to evaluate them, but to grow them. That’s the biggest, most time-consuming part, the instructional coaching part. That’s what takes a lot of time effort and energy.”

He said that person has to spend time with the teachers in the classroom, seeing what they’re doing, improving what they’re doing and showing them how to improve. Then, they help the teachers find professional development opportunities, reading materials or chances to observe another teacher to help them see how to improve in all the different areas.

“That is in itself a full-time job, which we have not done justice to because we could not do it with the personnel we had,” Seymore said. “Paul Armstrong is an amazing learning person. He gets teaching and learning; he knows what good instruction looks like; he knows how to deliver it, and he knows how to implement it. I put him in that. This won’t work if we don’t have the good people in those spots.”

Seymore said although the new positions will add new salaries to the budget, two other salaries will be eliminated. The maintenance and transportation directors positions are being eliminated, and those duties will be taken over by Dieterich in his new position as Chief Operations Officer. Seymore has been serving in the maintenance capacity for the past year and in the transportation capacity since the transportation director resigned in March.

The district will begin transitioning to the new organization over the summer, Seymore said, and it will be in completely in place when school starts next year.

A search for a new high school principal and a new assistant principal is underway, along with a search for a new junior high principal to replace Mich Etzel, who has accepted a position with Katy ISD.

Story and photos by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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