Bibb County school Superintendent Curtis Jones shared several updates Tuesday during a retreat with the school board on the status of his entry plan, new communication tools and district effectiveness.
“We have more work to do,” he said while showing reading-level statistics of Bibb’s elementary schools, pointing out that only about a third of elementary students were on grade level.
Overall, Jones added, all of Bibb’s elementary schools are below the state average.
Focusing on reading and increasing the literacy rate of Bibb’s students, among other goals, have been at the forefront of Jones’ agenda.
Reading is essential, he said, to reaching his lofty goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2025. The class of 2025 is now in third grade.
Besides reading, Jones’ areas of focus are discipline, attendance and enrollment.
“My hope is that our overall enrollment will go up as people see us working on these areas,” he said.
Part of that work includes more effective communication and response between the central office and the community.
Let’s Talk, a new technology platform designed to help school district officials communicate with the community, is scheduled to go live on Oct. 1.
The program will operate like an answering machine that collects and analyzes communications data.
With the tool, stakeholders will have the ability to submit messages to communicate their concerns to the district, and the district can then track the response, as well as progress toward its resolution.
“The whole purpose is to become more reliable and make sure we’re responding in timely manner,” Michael Kemp, assistant superintendent of technology services, said.
Last week, a program manager for the Georgia Department of Education’s division of school and district effectiveness, presented a PowerPoint to school board members about Bibb’s effectiveness.
The majority of the system’s ratings were “emerging,” said Samuel Taylor said, adding that the ratings ranged from “exemplary” to “not evident.”
Emerging, he said, means there are “pieces in place” but it’s “not fully operational” because it’s not pervasive throughout the district.
“I would say they’re moving in the right direction,” he said.
A mark of good systems, Taylor said, includes systems that have stability with school board members and in the superintendent’s position.
When it comes to whether the Bibb school district can improve itself, “The jury is still out, but I think they’ve got a good leader,” Taylor said.
“We can say that. He understands the school improvement work. He understands what needs to be done, and he’s going to need some time and support to put those pieces in place.”
To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382 or find him on Twitter@davidcschick.