Superintendent's Message 2023-2024
Have a great weekend everyone.
School principals play an integral role in the education and growth of children in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Principals, along with assistant principals and deans, deserve to be recognized for their work, commitment, and importance. The week of October 15, 2023, is proclaimed to be Principals Week and October 20, 2023, is Principals Day.
The job for these courageous individuals is demanding, rewarding, unpredictable, exhausting yet exhilarating. They wouldn’t have it any other way. I see them lead with optimism, humility, vision, and perseverance.
I encourage all of the stakeholders to celebrate by sending personal notes or emails, putting up decorations, providing snacks, presenting a gift, or just publicly acknowledging them. Thank you, Rock Island-Milan principals, assistant principals, and deans for your deep commitment to doing what is best for the students. You have a positive influence on young people, staff members, and communities and we appreciate it!
The district enrollment increased 101 students this year to 6,161. There were 357 graduates in the class of 2023. We continue to be one of the most diverse school districts in the state, currently ranking #2. We have 800 students eligible for English Language Learner services. Over 30 languages are spoken in the district. We are having an equity audit done to understand the root causes behind gaps in student achievement. The results will be used to make decisions about where to invest efforts and resources.
The district’s strategic plan has three priorities: 1) respectful relationships, 2) equity & opportunity for success, and 3) enhancing and improving operations. MAP assessments are given 3 times a year to determine where students are academically and to monitor progress. We continue to focus on college and career readiness. We have seven high school students participating in paid internships in the areas of welding and nursing.
There were many facility improvements in the past year. FOB access replaced key access in nine schools this past year. There were 103 additional security cameras installed throughout the district. Fifty-thousand square feet of roofing was replaced this summer. Construction of a new administration center, warehouse, and production kitchen was completed this summer. Parking lots and hard-surface playgrounds were replaced. New fire alarms and HVAC systems were installed. The Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation provided more than $205,000 in PRIME grants this summer. The district received a $3.8 million federal grant to address the social-emotional needs of students.
There is a lot of excitement throughout the district today because of the approaching Labor Day weekend. Culturally, it is considered the unofficial end to summer. Some are looking forward to all the Labor Day sales while others are looking forward to festivities like parades, parties, and picnics. There is little doubt the students are relishing a day off from school. A lot of recreation and amusement goes on during Labor Day weekend, but let’s make sure we take time to recognize the real meaning behind the holiday.
Congress passed the Labor Day Act in 1894, and President Cleveland signed it into law shortly thereafter. Labor Day was designed to be an annual celebration on the first Monday in September. The objective is to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. Their contributions have built America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being. American labor has raised the nation’s standard of living and has reinforced our traditional ideals of democracy. This weekend, let’s celebrate our great nation and the workers who made it great.
The five-year funding is being used to create a project-based curriculum focused on improving social and emotional wellness, mental health, inclusion, and equity. Activities will include self-reflection and storytelling through filmmaking. Each of the 25 curriculum lessons focuses on an SEL/equity topic. The staff provides coaching and technical assistance.
An independent evaluation of the program’s effectiveness will be conducted by a company called Empirical Education. The long-term goal is to use the information learned in Rock Island-Milan and expand it to other districts throughout the nation.
This is just one exciting example of an innovative and research-based learning opportunity that can be found in our fine school district. We are Rocks!
Rock Island-Milan School District’s mission is to prepare all students for individual success by providing a safe and inclusive quality education within a multicultural community. Since 2016, the district has been on an equity journey to more fully and deeply understand students and families from diverse backgrounds and to identify best practices that will meet the needs of the RIMSD students.
Last winter, the district hired American Institutes for Research to conduct a district equity audit. The purpose of the audit was to develop an understanding of the root causes behind the gaps in student achievement in order to make informed decisions about where to invest their equity efforts and resources to ensure that all students can achieve high standards.
In the coming weeks, on site focus groups will be assembled to have discussions about the equity topic. Students, parents, staff, and community members will be asked to participate. In mid-October, a large group of 35-40 people will work with five facilitators to process data and put it in a format that is streamlined and easy to understand. A final report that will include findings and suggestions will be presented to the Board of Education by the end of November. The district is actively working to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging throughout the district.
Hello Rock Island-Milan students, staff, and community! I am looking forward to serving as your interim superintendent during the fall semester. Over the past four weeks, I have encountered hope and promise everywhere I go in the district. Everyone oozes optimism, excitement, and friendliness.
Area contractors have been working diligently to complete various construction projects throughout the district. The projects include new roofs, new HVAC systems, building renovations, new pavement for parking lots and playgrounds, new fire alarms, and many needed repairs. We appreciate your patience as some of the projects will not be completed before school begins. I assure you the results are worth all of the noise, dust, mess, and delays.
Education is a people industry comprised of students, staff, families, and community members. We are stronger when we all work together to provide an excellent education for each and every student. An amazing opportunity is here, so let’s dig in and show the world that we are getting it done with One Team, One Goal, One RIMSD!