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Riverhead School District’s five-year plan addresses five strategic goals

The Riverhead Central School District unveiled a new five-year plan at last Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting that touches on five strategic goals. 

The plan, known as “Thrive in Five: A Blueprint for Success,” identifies these specific priorities: build student academic success, improve school district culture, expand family and community engagement, enhance social-emotional support and upgrade facilities.

The plan was created by a steering committee composed of school administrators and faculty, parents, community members, one student representative and school board president Laurie Downs. 

The detailed plan includes objectives, action items and anticipated implementation dates. It covers the school years from July 2022 through June 2027. The entire plan can be found online on the district website.

Goal A targets student academic growth and achievement. The plan hopes to increase the districtwide graduation rate, reduce the dropout rate and improve student attendance. It also targets building students’ skills in critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and conflict resolution.

The district will expand academic programs by integrating a global education program, the international baccalaureate, for all grade levels by 2027. The plan also includes phasing in the AP capstone diploma program for grades 11 and 12.

Goal B focuses on improving district culture by reducing the frequency of discipline referrals, removals and in or out of school suspensions, and implementing “restorative practices.” The district will also revise, upgrade, and rename its code of conduct as the Code of Character, Conduct and Support.

Goal C addresses family and community engagement, with objectives including greater parent participation in Parent Teacher Organization meetings, back-to-school nights and the district’s Parent University.

The district plans to strengthen orientation programs for students and families and improve the district website so it’s more effective in distributing districtwide news and information, according to the presentation.

Goal D prioritizes enhancement of social-emotional support, learning and well-being in the district. The district hopes to establish a process for consistent implementation of social-emotional learning resources and practices and to provide and monitor “multi-tiered systems of support” across all grades

According to The New York State Department of Education, MTSS focuses on ensuring that students receive support based on their needs. According to the presentation, the plan is to introduce the district plan to the administrative team in the 2022-23 school year and fully implement it in the fall of 2023.

The plan’s final goal, Goal E, relates to district’s facilities and will require short- and long-term planning and budgeting to establish and address specific district needs.

The Board of Education voted 5-0 to adopt the plan. Ms. Downs and Virginia Healy were absent.

Riverhead Equity Plan

The Board of Education also approved the Riverhead Equity Plan at last Tuesday’s meeting.

The plan was put together by the district’s diversity and cross-cultural task force, made up of staff, students, community members and stakeholders.

The plan has four main principles. The first is to create a welcoming and affirming environment and “create a space where people are represented, reflected and treated with respect and dignity,” according to the presentation. 

The district will organize workshops and learning opportunities to unpack key vocabulary and concepts from New York State’s Education Department’s Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education Framework.

The second is higher expectations and rigorous instruction. The goal is to collaborate with teachers to develop tools that can be useful for persevering in difficult social and academic situations, according to the presentation.

They hope to offer training on growth mindset tools, which help students view challenges and failures as opportunities to grow.

The third principle in the presentation was an inclusive curriculum and assessment. The plan is to research curriculum resources that address multiple perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. Examples presented were teaching tolerance, The Black Research Collective and the immigrant experience.

The last principle was ongoing professional learning for faculty members. They hope to provide professional learning communities and other professional learning structures to address bias and increase inclusivity.

The implementation of the plan will unfold over the next few years. During the 2022-23 school year, the district hopes to raise awareness of the equity plan. In 2023-24, they plan to build capacity and resources. And by 2024-25 school year, they expect it to be fully implemented.

The equity plan also gained school board approval by a 5-0 vote.

Regents Weighting

The Board of Education also approved the weighting of Regents Exam grades for the 2021-22 school year.

Parents had been requesting that the BOE adopt the “do no harm” policy, which states that a Regents exam score would not be factored into a student’s final course grade if it negatively affects their average.

The motion that passed stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused inequities in the educational opportunities provided to students across New York State, rendering it unfair to count the statewide Regents examinations in the calculation of the final grades.”

Before this motion was approved, Regents exams were weighted at 20%of a student’s final course grade, according to BOE policy 4711. 

The approval of the motion suspended that policy so that Regents exam scores won’t be counted in the calculation or weighting of final grades for this school year unless doing so improves an individual student’s final course grade in the subject.