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Gainesville school officials set goals for coming school year
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School officials are already getting ready to go back to school.

With the new fiscal year under way, local school boards and superintendents are making strategic plans, and this means new goals for test scores, parental involvement and financial efficiency.

At Monday's Gainesville City school board meeting, Superintendent Merrianne Dyer will pin down specific goals as teachers start moving ahead with lesson plans for the fall.

"We started developing the plan in January with the input of the schools' leadership teams," Dyer said. "Now, we ended the fiscal year and are winding down to get all the data, test scores and graduation rates."

The school system has four main goals each year - increase student achievement, increase stakeholder involvement and satisfaction, create more efficient and effective instructional and administrative processes and bolster positive financial performance.

Each goal has a work team that includes central office administrators, principals, support services and teachers to measure and achieve results. The groups meet on a regular basis to track changes.

"For student achievement, we want to promote learning by giving students feedback and increasing the higher level thinking skills by inquiry-based learning, which is linking lessons to prior knowledge or current events," Dyer said. "It's like linking earth science to what's going on in the Gulf and its effects."

The board will announce new changes with the way grades are presented on report cards. Administrators will also use new programs to evaluate teachers in the classroom based on observation and peer review.

"Everyone in the system has a professional growth plan," Dyer said. "Those who have difficulties will have a professional development plan to help them further."

The board is also focusing on changes suggested through a consultation from the University of California at Los Angeles. The report sets goals for student engagement, parental involvement, crisis intervention in schools, work-ready qualifications of high school graduates and community collaboration.

"In this area, for example, we measure the overall satisfaction of parents with the charter school governance councils," Dyer said. "From our accreditation requirements, we also study the satisfaction of parents who are economically disadvantaged."

The final piece of the puzzle is financial performance - an area where Gainesville City Schools has found kinks in the past.

The fiscal year 2011 budget has been approved with no deficit and no millage rate increase, and Dyer meets with district office staff weekly to evaluate funding.

"This group has to do with tracking our internal controls, monitoring and efficiency with money. We look at revenue, grants or special funding as well as cost savings and reductions," Dyer said. "It's important that we constantly look at how we can be most efficient and submit it in our monthly finance reports.

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