New administrators welcomed in VDPS

Board receives Priority Schools update

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published August 27, 2014

WARREN — As school districts continue to make adjustments to keep up with ever-changing state mandates, Van Dyke Public Schools officials created some new administrative positions the school board approved 6-0 at the Aug. 18 school board meeting.

Because McKinley Elementary School was considered among “Priority Schools” on the state’s Top-to-Bottom ranking during the 2013-14 school year, the school board approved the appointment of Assistant Principal Stefano Filiccia to join Principal Heather Brodi at McKinley.

“Knowing what the state expects of us the dynamics are different. We have to look at things differently,” Superintendent Joseph Pius said. “We felt we needed to put a second administrator at the school. He and Heather will move that building forward.”

As of this August, Lincoln Elementary School also was named to the state’s Priority Schools list. With the resignation of Principal Justin Cabe — who relocated to another district — Pius recommended the board approve Nicole Susewitz and Michael Harris as Lincoln co-principals.

“It is different to have co-principals of a building,” Pius said, adding there are more than 550 students at Lincoln Elementary. “We felt we needed to bring two individuals in.”

Priority Schools means the school is performing in the bottom 5 percent of the Top-to-Bottom list in the state of Michigan based on the annual Michigan Educational Assessment Program test. School officials are working hard to change that and increase student achievement.

In addition to the elementary school administrative changes, Susan Ludlum was appointed director of special education. The school board also approved the appointment of Billie Sczepaniak to Lincoln High School principal and Oscar La Van Daugherty to assistant principal at the high school to replace two staff members who left for other districts. Lincoln Middle School has been on the Priority Schools list for three years, but there were no changes in administrators at the board meeting. LHS and Carlson Elementary School were not named Priority Schools.

Prior to the administrative appointments, Assistant Superintendent Piper Bognar presented the district’s Priority Schools quarterly report on McKinley and LMS, which also is given to the state.

The district had five top goals to address the Priority Schools.

For starters, conducting “balanced assessment” work with Tom Many, with the help of the Macomb Intermediate School District Regional Assistance grant, was implemented with a core team in McKinley and LMS.

Balanced assessment includes the differentiation between curriculum and instruction; prioritizing standards with designated curriculum; and assessing formatively, collectively, formally and informally to get the best and most accurate results. In addition, instructional learning cycles were completed at both schools, as were tiered instruction program restructuring, including progress monitoring.

According to the report, small group instruction also was a focus at the middle school and McKinley. Bognar also presented information on “climate and culture shifts” as part of the reform plan designed to improve the school climate and increase student achievement.

As the open meeting wrapped up, the school board welcomed the new administrators to their positions.

“Thank you to all of you for your willingness to serve,” school board member Diane Larsen said. “As you can see there are challenges there…”

“We have the utmost confidence in all of you, in all the staff,” board member Steve Nielson said. “I look forward to hearing from you and working with you.”