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Reminder of Weather Delays and Closings

date 12/14/2016 author Mark Elworthy category Uncategorized comment Leave a comment

Reminder of Weather Delays and Closings 
 
With the arrival of winter, families, students, and community members often inquire how decisions to close or delay school are made and communicated. If school is delayed or closed, our goal is to make a decision by 5:00 AM. In making the decision, the District Administrator drives the roads and consults with Nelson’s Bus Service, local snowplow drivers, and area district administrators. We will broadcast the decision on television and radio stations as well as communicate electronically via the WUSD website and Infinite Campus. If the wind chill is sustained at -35? F or a Wind Chill Warning is issued, most school districts will close, although this is a local decision.
 
While the district has the responsibility to close school due to weather, no decision of ours overrides the judgment of parents. If parents have a sincere concern for the safety of their children, they can certainly keep them home or remove them from school early.
 
 
 
Recordatorio sobre los retrasos o cancelaciones debido al clima
 
Con la llegada del invierno, las familias, estudiantes y los miembros de la comunidad a menudo se preguntan sobre las decisiones y comunicaciones que se toman acerca de cerrar la escuela o retrasar el inicio de clases. Si se cierra la escuela o se retrasa el inicio de clases, nuestra meta es tomar esas decisiones hasta las 5:00 AM. Para tomar una decisión, el administrador del distrito maneja por las calles y consulta con el servicio de buses Nelson , con los empleados locales que limpian las calles y con los otros administradores del distrito. Una vez que se haya tomado una decisión, ésta será anunciada en los canales de television y de radio y la comunicaremos también electrónicamente a través de la página web del distrito y de Infinite Campus. Si el viento frío se mantiene a -35? F o se anuncia una advertencia de vientos frios, la mayoria de distritos escolares cierran sus escuelas, aun cuando la decisión es tomada a nivel local.
 
Si bien el distrito tiene la responsabilidad de cerrar la escuela debido al clima severo, ninguna decisión nuestra va antes que la de los padres. Si los padres tienen una sincera preocupación por la seguridad de sus hijos, ellos pueden mantenerlos en casa o retirarlos temprano de la escuela. 

Thankfulness

date 11/22/2016 author Mark Elworthy category Uncategorized comment Leave a comment

November is a time when I often think back to childhood memories. As a family, we would travel to Grandma E.’s in Illinois where we would see our Illinois cousins. We would leave after dinner since both parents worked. Weather sometimes made the trip interesting, but Dad always got us there. One year the usual 4.5-hour trip took 8 hours due to snow. We were thankful to see our cousins and share our life’s adventures of the past year.
Family time is wonderful, but recent events have reminded me of the benefits of giving back to the community.

  • I am thankful that community members give back in many ways, whether it is time, money, or kindness. Many residents give regularly so that community members in need can get past hard times.
  • I am thankful to be a part of a community that cares about its residents. The Peace Circles (3) hosted by the city, university, and school district showed great compassion for our many community groups. Future Peace Circles are being considered. I learned what it means to say we have a shared value for all. Everyone has a voice.
  • I am thankful for community partnerships with the school district. Supporting our youth and families is a full-time pursuit. The community partnerships we have work to guarantee educational experiences for our children.
  • I am thankful to work and live in a community that supports and values education. Your support means so much to the students, staff, and families. Thank you for supporting the referendum.
  • I am thankful for the many opportunities our students have in academics, athletics, and arts throughout the district. I am thankful and relieved that the 50 cast members of the fall musical only visit our home once a year and clean up when they are done.
Being thankful also reminds us that there is work to be done. The response to the Tratt Street apartment fire brought out the best; unfortunately, it did not cure homelessness. The WUSD Family Emergency Fund recently was replenished by $30,000 thanks to a caring community, with three $5,000 challenge grants and others donating the other $15,000; residents will need help next year, too.
We are so fortunate to be a part of this great community.
Thank you for giving what you can.

DISTRICT AND SCHOOL REPORT CARDS FOR WUSD

date 11/21/2016 author Mark Elworthy category Uncategorized comment Leave a comment

DISTRICT AND SCHOOL REPORT CARDS FOR THE
WHITEWATER UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
 
District and School Report Cards for the Whitewater Unified School District were released November 17, 2016, by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The district and each school received its own report card that evaluated its performance based on multiple measures.
 
The WUSD district report card received a score of “Meets Expectations.” Whitewater High School and Whitewater Middle School also received a rating of “Meets Expectations” on their state report cards.  The three elementary schools in Whitewater increased their ratings from previous years, with Lincoln Elementary receiving a rating of “Exceeds Expectations” and Lakeview and Washington Elementary Schools each receiving a rating of “Significantly Exceeds Expectations.” 
 
“The scores reflect our commitment to educating our students,” according to Dr. Mark Elworthy, District Administrator. “We believe that having strong relationships with our students, families, and community partners is a key component of success. The work of staff to update our curriculum has also made a difference in how our students learn. The State Report Card is one of many ways we measure success. Our goal is to have students prepared to follow their dreams when they graduate.”
 
WUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kelly Seichter is pleased with the scores but noted that the district is committed to continual improvement. "As a district, we were very happy to see our report card scores, but we will always continue to expect further improvement in teaching and learning," Seichter said.
 
This is the third year that DPI has issued report cards for every public school district, and the fourth year that each individual school has gotten a report card. Due to transition from former assessments, the Wisconsin DPI did not issue report cards for the 2014-15 school year.  With the report cards, each district and school earns a “score,” called an accountability index score, from 0 to 100. The score is based on performance in five priority areas:

  • Student achievement in reading and mathematics on the assessment
  • Student growth, measured by year-to-year improvements in reading and math
  • Closing gaps in performance between specific student groups (comparing English language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, and members of racial or ethnic group with their peers)
  • On-track to graduation/postsecondary readiness, using reliable predictors of high school graduation and postsecondary success
  • Student Engagement Indicators, measuring test participation, attendance rates and dropout rates
 
It’s important to note that the 0 to 100 accountability index score is not a “percent correct” measurement. Instead, in combination with other school data, the score will help schools determine greatest strengths and opportunities for improvement. A school’s score determines where it falls on a spectrum of categories ranging from “Significantly Exceeding Expectations” down to “Persistently Failing to Meet Expectations.”
 
WUSD Current and Previous Report Card Scores and Accountability Ratings
  Score 2013-14
 
Score  2015-16 Rating 2015-16
District Report Card
 
66.1 70.2 Meets Expectations
Whitewater High School 73.2 69.2 Meets Expectations
Whitewater Middle School 71.1 63.4 Meets Expectations
Lakeview Elementary School 77.9 85.6 Significantly Exceeds Expectation
Lincoln Elementary School 62.9 76.3 Exceeds Expectations
Washington Elementary School 76.0 91.6 Significantly Exceeds Expectation
 
 
To view each of the Whitewater schools’ report cards and learn more about the accountability system, visit the state Department of Public Instruction's site http://dpi.wi.gov/accountability/report-cards.

My First 100 Days in Whitewater

date 10/27/2016 author Mark Elworthy category Uncategorized comment Leave a comment

My First 100 Days at the Whitewater Unified School District
Dr. Mark Elworthy, District Administrator
October 20, 2016

A couple weeks ago I realized I was approaching one of those milestones of a new job: the first 100 days. Over that time, many faces have become familiar and have names associated with them, and I have learned a great deal about Whitewater and the Whitewater Unified School District. Thank you for your warm reception and for sharing your hopes and dreams with me.

What have I learned? Simply put, a lot. It was, and still is, very important to me to integrate into the Whitewater Unified School District instead of asking people to learn how I operate. Listening and learning are what I do on a daily basis.

We already have strong leaders in the district and community, so I have spent time observing and learning from them. I am fortunate to have been given opportunities to meet and work with many of these leaders through civic organizations and regularly scheduled meetings, such as the monthly UW-Whitewater/City of Whitewater/WUSD leadership meetings. Much can be said about a community and school district by the way people support each other. Over and over I have witnessed people giving of their talents to help others. Everyone has their own way of helping, which makes all of us more capable of helping others.

I continue to see many excellent processes in place to help students and families. We have after-school programming for both students and adults; we are ahead of most districts in planning college and career readiness; and we have leaders readily available to engage in activities that benefit students.  Living in a college town provides opportunities and resources unavailable to most school districts. Recent growth in achievement at the elementary schools is evidence that we can achieve great things. It all started with a belief that we can make a difference in students’ lives.

Interactions with the community have been amazing. The opportunity to have so many resources and helpful people support our students sets Whitewater apart from most school districts and communities. The ongoing partnerships throughout the community have increased our ability to develop solutions to benefit students. The Whitewater Peace Gatherings, organized by city leaders, is one of many examples of the community, school district, and university coming together. For those not familiar with the Peace Gatherings, there were three gatherings this fall in an attempt to be proactive in unifying our community and strengthening our relationships. It has been a source of pride to share with my peers in education how our community has come together to promote understanding, support constructive dialogue, and respect differing viewpoints.

Referendum presentations. Presenting information about the upcoming facilities referendum to various community groups has been a great way to meet people, share the district story, and develop relationships. Connecting names and faces has personalized my relationships within the community. Feedback from the attendees has guided my planning and helped me understand what people support. Hearing people’s stories motivates me to innovate. The comprehensive process that identified future capital needs, with many opportunities for community feedback, has resonated with the participants. Student learning was at the forefront of the recommendations.

School events. The Whitewater Unified School District offers many academic and athletic opportunities for its students. Attending a variety of events has helped me understand how the district functions. We could not do the work we do without the community’s support. The connection between the community and school is evident wherever I go. The pride in how the schools operate is evident through the school spirit and support exhibited by the staff, families, and community.

Family. My family moved to Whitewater at the end of August. My wife, Karen, works at American Girl in Middleton and previously worked as an elementary school teacher. We have two daughters in Whitewater High School: Sophia is a senior and is applying for colleges with a focus on the sciences, and Maddie is a sophomore and enjoys learning American Sign Language and acting. Both girls participate in athletics. We are enjoying the opportunity to develop new relationships in the community as well as with families in the district.

Next 100 days. As I enter the next 100 days, it will be a time of strengthening the relationships the school district has with the community. It will also be a time where I learn more about district procedures and begin planning the 2017-18 school year. Thank you to all who have invited me to be a part of your group’s event. It is an honor to serve the Whitewater Unified School District.

Referendum Blog (10/24/16)

date 10/25/2016 author Mark Elworthy category Uncategorized comment Leave a comment

Dear Whitewater Community Members,
 
Thank you for taking time to learn about the November 8 Facilities Referendum and the proposed $23.5 million school building improvement plan reflects an 18-month engagement process including input from the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee, a community workshop (over 100 participants), and a community-wide survey.
 
Our District has a proud history of student achievement, upheld by our community’s support for learning and strong schools.
If approved, the November 8 Facilities Referendum will allow us to address safety and security improvements, ADA compliance updates, maintenance upgrades, and renovation of instructional spaces in all school buildings.
 
I hope you find our website helpful as you make an informed vote on November 8.
 
Sincerely,

Mark Elworthy, Ed. D.



 

Accountability for the Referendum

date 10/14/2016 author Mark Elworthy category Uncategorized comment Leave a comment

Accountability on spending referendum dollars is one of the questions we have heard when talking with community members. It's a good question. The District's history of delivering on past referendums is a good place to start. The 1994 and 1999 referendums continue to serve the district well. The high school (1994) is in great shape and operates efficiently. Updates made to the elementaries in 1999 have promoted 21st Century Learning. The 2016 referendum built upon past capital projects and enhanced the learning environment for our students. For the proposed referendum, there are two documents that state our intentions: Referendum Questions and Referendum Fact Sheet. The referendum question approved by the Board summarizes what the referendum dollars (if approved) can be spent on. The question identifies only the school buildings that have been identified for four types of upgrades: safety and security, instructional space renovations, ADA compliance, and capital maintenance. The Referendum Fact Sheet, http://www.wwusd.org/sites/whitewater.new.rschooltoday.com/files/files/Private_User/cbarr/WUSD%20Fact%20Sheet%20Final%2083016.pdf  also summarizes the scope of the projects and preliminary concepts.
 
Given the opportunity, the District intends to develop accountability measures and provide regular construction updates.


 

Referendum Update

date 10/13/2016 author Mark Elworthy category Uncategorized comment Leave a comment

As of today (10/13), Nathan (business manager) and I have made 24 presentations to community groups, including seniors, parent organizations, and municipalities. I am thankful for the strong relationships the district has formed over recent years. Community questions and feedback have provided insight as to what the community expects from its school district. We will continue to share our message throughout the community. Voting day is November 8.

Introductory Blog

date 09/21/2016 author Mark Elworthy category Uncategorized comment Leave a comment

Social media is one way to connect with the community.

As a way to provide updates to the Whitewater community, I will be blogging on important district topics. My goal is to have a couple posts a month.

I would also like to announce that I am on Twitter @WWUSD_DA. I will be using Twitter to showcase district activities, announcements, and accomplishments.

Thanks for reading.

Mark