Davenport School District has a road map and a timeline, both agreed to by the state education department.
Now the real work begins.
The state education board on Wednesday approved a 22-point plan for the district to resolve myriad issues that led to its demotion to just conditional state accreditation.
Davenport and state officials negotiated the plan’s elements and timeline on Tuesday, and the board approved of the plan at its monthly meeting Wednesday on the Des Moines Area Community College campus.
Both Davenport and state officials offered effusive praise for what they described as a “collaborative” process to create the plan and its timeline. But they also warned that the plan is demanding, and the school district faces much work ahead.
“We have clear direction, clear timelines, and now it’s time to start doing the heavy lifting,” interim Davenport superintendent TJ Schneckloth said. “Knowing where you are and where you’re going, with designated timelines, is very beneficial. It allows everybody to be rowing in the same direction. Now, this plan is a lot of work and it’s going to take a focused effort.”
State education director Ryan Wise said he is pleased with the progress made addressing the district’s issues, and he feels confident the plan offers “a recipe for success.”
“As (Schneckloth) said, it is a heavy lift. So the last thing I would want to see happen among anyone is to let go of the sense of urgency. Because that sense of urgency needs to remain in order for Davenport to best serve their students in the months and years ahead,” Wise said. “This is a significant step forward, particularly around bringing clarity to the work. But the work is nowhere near finished.”
The 22-point plan requires the district to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based, district-wide system for behavior management and social-emotional learning.
It also requires the district to hire an appropriately licensed superintendent by August 15, or lieu of that requires the district to retain Schneckloth as interim superintendent through the next school year. It also requires the new superintendent to work with a state-appointed expert mentor to guide them through the district’s rehabilitation.
The district hired Robert Kobylski, but it was discovered his Wisconsin license did not transfer to Iowa, and he is taking courses with the goal of fulfilling his certification requirements ahead of the next school year.
The plan also includes requirements that the district work with a national expert on disproportionality, establish criteria for teacher and administrative evaluation, appoint an equity coordinator and develop an equal opportunity employment and affirmative action plan, and work with expert coaches on community and parent engagement, among others. The plan includes deadlines for most items.