Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District lays out plans for 2022-23
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - With the new school year right around the corner, Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District officials are saying they are using lessons learned from last year, a tough one for the district.
“You know, in lots of ways, it was harder than the previous year, than the first full year of the pandemic,” Randy Trani, the school district’s superintendent, said. “I think it was because everyone’s expectations that it was going to be over were kind of dashed very quickly on the rocks of COVID in October.”
The district had issues with staffing for bus routes and the district saw a spike in its absentee rates. Last November, Trani reported seeing 20% of his student body calling out sick every day. This trend, he said, continued into the middle of the school year.
Around February, Trani said the district started seeing absentee rates decline.
“It was much higher than we wanted it to be, as the rest of the school year went on,” he said. “But the upward trajectory on more kids coming to school more often was what we wanted and hoped to see as the risk of COVID went down.”
Trani said they are now ready to bounce back for a new academic school year. This year, many of their goals will be focused on professional development for staff and academic achievement for students.
Trani said the district will be implementing Professional Learning Curriculum (PLC) Mondays. Class times will be pushed back 45 minutes at the start of the week. During that first hour of the day, staff will work on professional development.
Traditionally, Trani said, his team would have a few days of professional development at the start of the year and several others scattered throughout the year. This new PLC model will allow for his team to have consistent training.
“We just think it’s going to be a gamechanger as far as academic achievement for students,” Trani said. “... We really hope that we are going to see marked change in achievement.”
Trani hopes to continue to grow the district’s AP and International Baccalaureate programs.
“We have gone from a production rate of four — scores of threes, fours, and fives — per 100 kids to over nine in the last two years,” Trani said. “So incredible growth, and we’re going to try and keep that pace up this year.”
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