Besides a major construction project at Logan High School, the Logan City School District has several other major projects in the works. While some involve building walls, others are focusing on what happens within those walls.
Ellis Elementary will be remodeled and expanded while Hillcrest Elementary will be completely rebuilt over the next few years. This spring the district will issue a Request For Proposal from architects and should have crews selected before the end of the school year.
“The hope is to do both of those projects concurrently, so they’ll be done at the same time,” says Logan City School Superintendent Frank Schofield. “We’ll see if we are able to do them both through the same architectural firm and the same contractors.”
Schofield says the district has been planning on these projects for some time now, but they have needed to wait until the Logan High School project started nearing its completion before they could move on to any other construction projects.
“The main reason for the delay in starting those projects is the schedule for releasing the bonds. Because the bonds are being used to pay for these projects, if we release the bonds too quickly it significantly increases the tax burden on Logan City residents.”
<h3><em>Professional Learning Communities</em></h3>
Besides the additional construction projects that are scheduled for the district, Schofield says there have been some really successful things happening inside the classrooms. One of the highlights is how teachers and administrators throughout the district have executed what he calls Professional Learning Communities.
“You have teams of teachers identifying concrete groups of students,” he explains, “doing common curriculum planning, common assessment of student learning to identify what they need to do to help the students excel.”
Schofield says they have done district-wide training and they are seeing significant gains in multiple areas in multiple schools. They have been using a team approach to identify students’ needs and discuss a variety of ways to address those needs, and those can vary from elementary school to middle school to high school.
“To have a group of teachers come forward and say, ‘We’ve seen other schools doing this, and we’ve talked to those teachers and visited with those students, we see the positive impact that it has had there. We believe we can have that same positive impact with our students.’ That’s exciting. That’s definitely something to celebrate.”
A project that was originally met with skepticism from many parents throughout the district now seems to be paying off. Last summer it was revealed that principals throughout the Logan City School District would be re-assigned to other schools. The announcement concerned parents, PTA groups and some staff, as they were afraid to lose an administrator they had grown to love and appreciate.
“It’s gone well,” Schofield assures. “One of the positive things that we’ve seen, as principals move to different buildings they have been able to identify the positive differences that exist from building to building. When you’ve only been a principal in one place that is what you know, that is what your experience has been. The positive things that those teachers are doing, those are the positive things that you are familiar with.
“When you broaden that and are able to start working at different schools and interact with a different parent community, a different PTA, a different group of teachers, etc. you are exposed to a whole different set of positive. What that does is it broadens your perspectives. It broadens your understanding of what is possible and can work. That is what has happened with all of our principals.”
Schofield says it has also helped the principals’ understanding of district-wide priorities. Every school has its own set of unique circumstances and unique needs, but the district has priorities that it wants to be consistent at every school. The principals have been able to find new ideas while also bringing successful ideas with them from where they were previously.
“With the amount of student movement we have from school to school (as their families move residences but stay within district boundaries), there are certain things that need to be consistent from building to building. So we provide that consistency for students as they move from school to school.”
Schofield has also been impressed with the benefits of having a diverse student population in his school district. Several of the schools within the Logan City School District have over 40% of their students who are identified as ethnic minorities.
“We’re seeing that provide a richness to our students’ experiences in school,” says Schofield.
He says teachers are able to have discussions with the class about how some concepts look here and how they might look in a student’s home country. He says the teachers are able to help students internalize information in a variety of ways.
“It provides opportunities for students to look at the world and look at learning about the world through different lenses,” Schofield continues, “which increases the depth and richness of their understanding of concepts.
“They are able to see connections between their learning, between their home and between what their peers are learning, which is an invigorating and exciting environment to be in.”
He says the high level of diversity in a small geographic area allows all students to benefit from it.