Every five years, school districts in Iowa participate in a comprehensive site visit with the Iowa Department of Education. The visit serves two important functions. First, it is to ensure compliance with the laws that govern all public schools in Iowa. Commonly referred to as Chapter 12 Code of Iowa, these rules and regulations govern many things; such as the courses that are taught in the district and making certain all teachers are properly certified to teach in their respective content area or grade level.
In addition to the compliance portion of the visit, the DE (Department of Education) will verify that we have policies in place to address a multitude of issues ranging from the legal authority granted to school boards all the way to how we go about cancelling school in the case of inclement weather! Once the DE has determined that all the laws and regulations are being followed, we maintain our accreditation and are in compliance for the next five years. If a regulation isn't in place, an issue of 'non compliance' is noted and the district has 45 days to respond. In the majority of cases it is a relatively minor issue that can be easily corrected. Luckily, the Department provides technical assistance to ensure seamless resolution. At the writing of this column we are right in the middle of the review, so it is uncertain whether or not we will need to make any corrections.
While an important function of the site visit is compliance, we are most interested in the second function of the visit-which is to assess continuous improvement in the district. During the next couple of days our visitors will meet with a whole host of stakeholder groups-from administrators to students and gain their perspective of the school district. They will ask many questions about our school programs. To give just a few examples, they will inquire about the rigor of the classes we offer, district communication, and how our students are doing on standardized tests.
When they issue the report, not only will they share areas of non compliance, but the will also highlight the strengths of our district programs and offer suggestions in areas we may wish to improve. We started the preparation for this visit back in August, and have worked diligently since then. Many of you have given up time to serve on one of our various interview committees, while others have had to sit through meetings with me as I took notes and asked even more questions. It has been well worth the effort! What I have learned through this process is that we have an awesome school district with a variety of programs designed to meet the needs of all learners. There is no doubt in my mind that our Core Purpose is alive and well in the Hudson Community School District.
The presentation above is the overview that was given to begin the visit. There are so many wonderful things going on in our district! I hope you are as proud of the Hudson Community School District as I am!