Last year, after the long days of cold and snow, I committed to celebrating Spring by planting close to 900 bulbs in the sweep of beds that surround my house. I am looking forward to driving to work in the daylight (yes!) and coming home to my daffodils. The small changes this time of year remind us that the days keep passing and the rites of spring are upon us.
For example, our “Souper Bowl”, held this year on Saturday, February 29th, was a huge success, not only providing delicious soup and salad for the West community (and a great student-made bowl to take home) but served as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. One of my favorite events is handing out medals for the Science Olympiad winners at Hamilton Elementary and I did so again on Saturday, February 29th. I love seeing kids from all over Madison, southern Wisconsin and beyond (North Dakota and Indiana, this year!) with many, many medals hanging from their necks. A wonderful experience.
Another such rite for me is my annual “State of the School” message, which I gave during our 9th, 10th, and 11th grade parent night on February 3rd. We are starting to see positive results in grades and behaviors, although we continue to see uneven results between our students of color and our white students. We are increasing support for ESL to address a troubling pattern of high attendance in our English language learners and low student performance. Our In- and Out-of-School suspensions are down as is the disproportionality between our white and black students. This is progress on some very tough indicators and we know we have a long way to go.
We just completed our teacher/staff allocation process for the 2020-21 school year. We are extremely fortunate at West to have a great staff who love your kids and want them to see West High School as “their” school. That’s not easy when you have over 2,000 students, but that’s what we work toward. As you may know, there were budget reductions at every level and in every school. These are extremely difficult decisions -- these are our people, our friends, our colleagues, and they matter in the quality of our work life. At West, we are down 2.5 positions -- we surplussed small cuts from all departments based on department size.
We are well into our SIP planning for 2020-21. Our fourth and last Community Conversation will be on March 12th from 6:00 - 8:00pm in our LMC. We have been to Centro Hispano, Boys and Girls Club, and Bayview Foundation so far. Our reception has been warm and gracious, and the conversations thoughtful and honest. These are long days for the families who come and the staff who support, but I am energized by what I’m learning and how well what we’re learning aligns across sites and data points. We’re using this information (along with student survey information from early February), teacher survey (in early March) and follow up individual interviews to drive future planning.
It’s Spring, and that means the standardized testing season is in full bloom. The ACT is Tuesday, March 3rd (only juniors report). Our 9th and 10th-grade students take the ASPIRE in mid-April (4/15) and Advanced Placement testing starts the first week in May.
Finally, I have decided to have my knee replaced (after four surgeries, two on each knee, it’s time. It’s really time). I will be out from March 26th through mid-April. Mitch McGrath will be the principal in charge.
I hope you have a chance to relax with your families during Spring Break, March 30th -- April 3rd.
Stay safe. Enjoy the sun.
Karen Boran, Ed. D.