Superintendent gives State of the District Address

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Griffin-Spalding County School Superintendent Jim Smith gave a State of the District Address on Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Griffin Region College and Career Academy.

Smith spoke about the vision of the local school district, changes that have been implemented and areas in which they hope to improve. Smith said that it’s important to him that the vision of the GSCS is to be an agent of change. “We want to prepare (students) in those early skills, those early abilities, that allow them to be successful moving into post-secondary opportunities,” Smith said.

A key point of his presentation was placing emphasis for student and school success on the community as a whole. “If we can engage families, businesses and community members in the mission of education, then student achievement will increase,” Smith said.
He said the school district needs outside support and that local businesses and organizations are more likely to support a well-run school system. “No one is going to sign on to support an organization that they view as being chaos, but they will sign on to support one they view as moving forward in a coherent fashion with a mission and vision that makes sense,” he said.

In 2016, a curriculum audit was performed by an outside organization. Smith said the goal of the audit was to uncover what GSCS does differently from districts that are considered successful and how they operate to create successful results.
“The lead auditor told our group of administrators, that because of the things that I’m showing you that we found or did not find, you shouldn’t be surprised at what results you’re getting because there are gaps,” Smith said. He added, “I think if you don’t take the time to figure out where you are, you’re doing a disservice.”

He said that since the audit was performed little more than two years ago, the school district has completed or are in progress on 75 percent of the recommendations that were made. “They came up with a number of recommendations in 10 categories ranging from board policies, to financial budget to curriculum development and review and almost anything else in between,” Smith said. Some of those recommendations were curriculum redevelopment and creating a balanced literacy plan.

The GSCS is using a model of curriculum redesign known as Rigorous Curriculum Design or RCD. This model “will offer curriculum guides for English Language Arts, math and science,” according to literature provided at the event. One of the district’s goals in creating balanced literacy means bringing all students to grade level reading skills so they are better prepared for all their classes.

Smith also said that GSCS wants the best and brightest staff, but has to compete with other schools to obtain them. He added that there is a teacher shortage throughout the United States that limits the overall number of teachers available.

One area which Smith said needs to change is the way the local community views the size of the school system. He said that people think of Griffin as being a small town, but the school district itself is not small compared to other districts.

“I believe we have to act like a larger school district. We’ve got to be a little more formalized because we are larger,” he said.
Other topics discussed were preparing children for the kindergarten with the Zero to Five Initiative, use of cameras in classrooms for training and safety and structural modifications to the schools that allow for increased student safety

Oct 26, 2018 By Jennifer Reynolds, STAFF WRITER,  Griffin Daily News