FASD looks forward

The Fairfield Area school district is beginning the process of developing long-term plans for its curriculum, training, facilities and more.

During the school board’s meeting on Monday evening, Superintendent Thomas Haupt gave a state of the district speech which also served as an opportunity for him to share his vision for the future.

Haupt said the district will pursue a “change in culture” and the overall plan will take years to fully implement.

One part of his vision includes strengthening community partnerships.

“We have good partnerships with local businesses and local business leaders, but we really need to enhance those partnerships,” Haupt said.

Haupt also has plans to invest in a K-12 curriculum plan that includes both creating content as well as focusing on professional development. The curriculum plan will have the goal of creating “multiple exposures” to the skills students will need for life after school.

“Outside of rigorous content, something I will just say we have not done a good job with in this district – we must get better at doing this – and that is to professionally develop our teachers,” Haupt said.

Haupt said the administration will begin to work on a facilities plan but does not yet have one in place.

He stressed the importance of developing long-term plans for each need in order to most wisely and efficiently handle the district’s budget. Members of the administration will begin putting together plans this summer, he said, as the overall plan is still in its infancy.

School board member Lisa Sturges, a former teacher, said she was particularly interested in learning what professional development will look like for teachers.

“When I came here many moons ago, I had a lot of professional development,” Sturges said. “We were all allowed to go to one – it had to be approved and it had to be a current philosophy of the district– but in-service or workshops. They weren’t in-house, they were out so you could connect with other districts. Are we going to see some of that come back? Because there really hasn’t been, in many years, any kind of those concentrated workshops in specific areas, and I see it as a real weakness.”

Sturges recalled her experience as a teacher.

“Fortunately I had a lot (of professional development) in my early career that helped me, but I see that (lack of it) as something that really hurts us as a district,” Sturges said.

Haupt said he couldn’t promise any specifics at this stage, but agreed that professional development will be important.

The board unanimously approved its consent agenda with the exception of approving a pay raise for Haupt. Sturges said she wanted to discuss the item in closed session.

According to the agenda, the raise would bump Haupt’s salary to $155,040 as of July 1. His previous salary was not specified.

The same agenda item also called for the board to accept his performance assessment, which was noticed as being “rated as distinguished” for this school year.

After the closed session, the raise and performance assessment were passed with a vote of 6-3. Sturges, Treasurer Lashay Kalathas, and board member Candace Ferguson-Miller voted against the agenda item.

The board recognized five employees who finished three years of employment at FASD and earned tenure: Rebecca Abell, Kevin Dorsey, Kristi Ebaugh, Samantha Goetz and Emily Makar.

Several people were also recognized for their dedication and years within the district. Charles Engel and Regina Lee were celebrated for completing 25 years with FASD while Kenneth Haines, Daniel Irwin, Siri Phelps and John Ridge each completed 20 years.

There was no public comment.

The board will vote on the final Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, June 27. Meetings are held in the district board room and are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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