APS Column: Coming out stronger on the other side

Published 5:33 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

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By Dr Joey Page

Austin Public Schools Superintendent

This year has been like no other, full of challenges and chances to grow. But we keep going through it all and are stronger on the other side, embodying our mission to inspire, empower and accelerate. As we approach the end of another school year, I’d like to take a moment to recognize everything we’re accomplishing together.

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I want to begin by taking a moment to congratulate the Class of 2023. Everything we have worked for at Austin Public Schools is to teach you how to go out and experience life, to see the world differently. Follow your dreams as you head out into the world, and we hope you remember your roots and all the people who have worked diligently to help you succeed.

I’d next like to extend a big thank you to our APS community for making this year the best it can be.

To our students—thank you for your hard work and commitment. You’re showing your strength and willingness to learn in new and sometimes challenging situations (like returning to a more regular schedule). We are so proud of what you are achieving!

To our teachers and staff — thank you for your continued dedication and compassion. Despite a challenging year, you provided our students with the best education possible. Your commitment to our students and community is truly inspiring, and we appreciate everything you do to make APS successful.

To our families, caregivers, and community members—thank you for all your help. Your continued support and contributions have been invaluable, and we could not do it without you.

I would also like to acknowledge our retirees:

• Tim Davis, Ellis Middle School

• Sheila Harrington, I.J. Holton Intermediate School

• Duane DeBoer and Sharon Smither, Special Services

• Shelly Weinmann, Neveln Elementary School

• Deborah Cook, Sumner Elementary

• Jeannie Goodew and Craig Knippel, Austin High School 

• Leslie Meyer and Mary Weikum, Food, and Nutrition Services

• Louise Davis, Gail Subra, and Teresa VanProosdy, Banfield Elementary

• Chris Kasak and Julie Wanous, Woodson Kindergarten Center

Here are some of the year’s highlights related to our strategic plan.

Strategic Priority Number 1: Support and resources to ensure a safe and welcoming learning environment

• Developing a strengths-based organization through the StrengthsFinder assessment;

• Transitioning early childhood programming to a temporary location;

• Improving hiring, onboarding, and retainment procedures; and establishing an employee exit interview process;

• Onboarding new school board members;

• Creating protocols for reporting a concern and threat assessments;

• Completing the Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) application; and

• Hiring the new Austin High School principal.

Strategic Priority Number 2: Packer Profile for all learners

• Developing the Packer Profile​ with Community Input Sessions .

• Articulating the Career Pathways. 

• Updating the Registration​ Guide.

• Implementing the program in ninth grade.

• Achieving curriculum alignment​.

• Creating the Teaching and Learning resource site.

• Launching the APS Instructional Model​;

• Establishing the K-4 and 5-12 Collaborative Meetings; and ​

• Enhancing the Professional Learning Communities . 

Strategic Priority Number 3: District-wide multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) for all learners

• Operationalizing the APS District’s MTSS Team;

• Training principals to create building-level teams​;

• Implementing a new assessment platform​, Star360, to monitor benchmarks and progress​;

• Implementing the Early Warning System (a new Artificial Intelligence tool); 

• Starting the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) Training;​

• Completing the Program Review and Curriculum Selection Process;​

• Performing Math and Gifted and Talented audits;​

• Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) initiatives​, including common Zones of Regulation Components and SEL curriculum 1-4​; and

• Submitting the final application to have all buildings trained in Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS); 

Strategic Priority Number 4: Excellence in resource management

• 2022 Operating Referendum SUCCESS!; ​

• Improving fund balance management;

• Completing a facilities planning​ and utilization study for enrollment growth/contraction​;

• Receiving Federal Grant awards​;

• Implementing Papercut, a comprehensive print management system;

• Expanding facilities, finance, and World’s Best Workforce Committees membership;

• Partnering with Ameresco for energy efficiency;​ and

• Improving the transportation system;

With summer approaching and the commencement of our next academic year closer than we think, I am filled with hope and anticipation for what’s to come. We’re eager to apply what we’ve learned this year to continue making positive changes in the Austin Public Schools. Together, we are preparing all learners to make a difference in the world. Thank you again for your support, and we hope the upcoming warmer months are safe and enjoyable.