Family-friendly information promotes accountability, transparency
The Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC) today publicly released its first quarterly progress report, which shows the gains schools are making based on The Path Forward, its bold two-year plan for continuing to improve academics, engagement, fiscal matters, and operations in the district.
The progress report was shared with students, families, staff and community members yesterday and released at today’s meeting of the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB), where members celebrated the proactive move to transparently share information with the community.
“As promised, we are transparently sharing the progress of our school district,” said GCSC Manager Dr. Paige McNulty. “Since this is the first quarterly report, the data represents a baseline. It is our goal to demonstrate continual progress in every area.”
The December 2020 progress report shows that despite the hurdles created by the pandemic, GCSC students, families, and staff are rising to the challenge. Among many other gains, students now have more access to career pathways, community members have more opportunities to engage with schools, and teachers are receiving an overdue raise, their first in more than a decade. (Full list below.)
Notably, the progress report acknowledges that Gary voters approved the schools referendum, which will help balance the budget, boost teacher and instructional staff compensation, increase arts, athletics, and extracurricular activities, and improve safety and student supports.
“The start of this school year has been full of extraordinary obstacles, yet GCSC students, families, and staff are meeting the moment by showing just how resilient they are,” added McNulty. “I’m grateful for how our community has rallied around our schools, and I’m looking forward to building on these gains in the new year.”
The family-friendly design of the progress report is based on feedback from community members on an online survey this fall, which included several options and a chance to share open-ended comments.
The progress report also shows areas where improvement is necessary. For example, GCSC is focusing on increasing students’ math and reading skills. Across the country, the pandemic-related school disruptions has led to learning loss.
The release of the progress report, which will be available online and in schools once they reopen, concludes a challenging year in which GCSC consistently found ways to keep making progress.
In addition to the referendum’s recent passage, GCSC is overhauling the track at West Side Leadership Academy as part of the $25 million School Improvement Fund provided by Bill 1065. In addition, GCSC announced this fall that its Average Daily Membership increased for the first time in more than 10 years. GCSC has adopted local preference policies for hiring and purchasing, too.
To start this school year, GCSC distributed a Chromebook with internet access to every student grades K-12. In addition, from August 2017 to December 2019, the school district’s deficit has fallen from $22 million to $6 million, and the school district’s debt has fallen from $104 million to $79 million.
Full List of Gains from December 2020 Progress Report
8th-grade students can now take a career exploration class, and West Side students can now choose a pathway in aviation, police, fire, or EMS-
26% more students enrolled in career pathways at the Gary Area Career Center-
Community partners are developing lessons on the Tuskegee Airmen for students in grades K-12
1 quarterly progress report was released-
3 new committees – curriculum, technology, and food services – formed and began meeting-
9 schools with new Advisory Committees made up of students, parents, teachers, and administrators that also began meeting
GCSC increased enrollment, as measured by Average Daily Membership, for the first time in a decade.-
GCSC agreed to a new teachers contract that includes a 5.3% raise, teachers’ first raise in more than 10 years.-
The raise was possible because Gary voters approved the $72.1 million referendum, which will also increase student activities, improve student supports, and help balance the budget.
GCSC distributed 4,555 Chromebook and tablets to help close the digital divide-
GCSC offered 4 trainings and support sessions to parents and caregivers-
Responded to questions from students, families, and staff through the new IT helpline-
Maintained internet connectivity rates of 95% or higher each month