Dr. Gutierrez talks with some of the district's new teachers.
(Seguin) -- The new school year officially begins on Monday, which is the first day of school in the Seguin ISD. It marks the return of all students, and the start of the new instructional year. The children may be returning on Monday, but the new year in the Seguin ISD actually got started a little bit earlier this month with the arrival of new Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez.
Dr. Gutierrez is starting the year with a 90-day entry plan that he brought with him to Seguin. He says the plan really lays out how they will proceed for the next few months. Some members of the Seguin ISD Board of Trustees specially stated that his plan is one of the things that helped Gutierrez stand out during the superinendent search process over the summer. Gutierrez says this plan calls for him to start building relationships throughout the district and the community.
"I created that plan and of course I don't have (all) the answers and I'm looking at it from really a bird's eye view -- just looking at the data that's available through TEA and the data that's available on the website, and creating and developing that plan by myself without any type of colaboration. I was glad that (the school board) found value in it because it certainly did take a lot of thought. I think one of the key pieces is the superintendent -- myself as superintendent taking the time to meet key constituents, to be involved in various city organizations, (and) to take the time to meet with students, because after all we're here to serve students. As time consuming as that may be, it's important that a superintendent coming (into a community), focus on relationships, everything else comes second," said Gutierrez.
The plan also looks at potential challenges that the district needs to be focusing on this school year. Gutierrez says several areas have already been identified as part of the plan.
"There's some components within that to really look at and investigate where we are within different programs and addressing different types of students. So I had the idea to develop a task force, and task force ideas to look at working with kids coming from poverty, looking at what we're doing to prepare kids beyond high school -- post secondary readiness, (and) looking at our bilingual and ESL population. We seem to have struggled with that for several years now. (And also) addressing our GT programming," said Gutierrez.
Gutierrez put the plan together before ever being hired by the Seguin ISD. He says it's been fleshed out even more since he arrived and started collaborating with the rest of the administrative team. He says he's creating task forces that would focus on each of the areas.
"What I hope to do is bring people together to work on some problem solving and some actions to help us address those issues," said Gutierrez. "We've already identified key leaders within central admin who will be the facilitators and then identifying teacher leaders to be part of that, because it's essential that we get feedback from teachers. Also identifying a parent or two to serve on that committee to give us the parent perspective. So here pretty soon, once we have, (and) what I found surprising. I've got slides, but once you put that into a table, it's like -- 'wow, there's a lot to be done' and...once that's completed -- we certainly believe in transparency -- we're going to share everything. (It) will be listed and (it) will outline who's responsible for what and what evidence is there to show that we are taking action," said Gutierrez.
The entry plan is a short term strategy for the district to move forward. Dr. Gutierrez says he also wants to start a strategic planning process that will help the district develop some longer range plans.
"Its been a few years since we've had a strategic plan. One of the things you will find if you look at high acheiving school districts, they have a school board that is focused on student acheivement. We were reminded of that (recentlyt) during our Team of Eight training. So the strategic planning process is going to help us develop a guide for the next five years. So we don't have that yet. So I feel like we're just kind of trying our best to make decisions to meet the demands of our students, but soon once we have a plan, all decisons will be made based on that strategic plan. The process will involve a group of 40 to 50 key stakeholders. It will involve administrators, trustees, community leaders, parents and probably two to three days of work later this semester, (and) that will be launched hopefully in January," said Gutierrez.
The Dr. Gutierrez's 90-day plan also calls for the creation of a superintendent's student advisory team, which will help to provide some insights from the student's perspective.
"I'm really excited about the superintendent's Student Advisory Team, where I will have an opportunity to meet with student leaders from elementary all the way to high school on a monthly basis to get a student perspective. What are the things that they're most proud of with their school or their school district, and what concerns do they have. What I hope to get from these students is them going back to their schools and getting feedback from the students they represent, and (have) those students really representing the district and having some pride in the work that they're doing. Right now, our principals are identifying their student leaders...I've left it up to the principals to identify this go around," said Gutierrez.
Dr. Gutierrez earlier this month came to Seguin after serving as an assistant superintendent in the Plano ISD. He made his comments recently on KWED's Saturday Topic program.