By Peter Jovanovich
The new Superintendent of the Rye City School District, Dr. Eric Byrne, has only been at the helm for a few short weeks, but he’s already garnered our attention. At the June 27 Board of Education meeting, he presented his Entry Plan to “listen and learn” about the District in order to develop and execute an educational vision for the future. “It’s all about taking a deep dive: learning what we want to be.”
Unprecedented in its scope and detail, the Plan, which is posted on the District’s website, calls for Dr. Byrne to interview hundreds of individuals over the next six months, including teachers, administrators, staff members, students, parents, community leaders, and elected officials. Already, he has interviewed members of the Board and begun reviewing all the various reports and documents related to the District’s academic, financial, and operational performance.
Why an entry plan? In Dr. Byrne’s view, it is crucial that he develop strong relationships with all of the stakeholders of the District. “If we are to build that strategic vision that is sorely needed, it will happen because those relationships are there. That’s why this plan is so critically important.”
The school district will soon be getting used to seeing Dr. Byrne everywhere. “I will be plopping myself down in faculty staff rooms and cafeterias so that I get to know teachers and students and they get to know me.” Some of the questions he will be asking stakeholders include: What are you most proud of in our District? Give me your assessment of the City School District instructional program? What are the most important challenges facing the District today?
The Entry Plan calls for a review of all aspects of the teaching and learning program, including significant professional development initiatives over the last three years, special education services, the ESL programs, physical education, etc. In what is probably a first in the history of the District, Dr. Byrne is inviting every teacher to participate in entry interviews.
Byrne will meet with the leaders of all five collective bargaining units, the elementary, middle, and high school PTO and PO leadership, the Mayor, Commissioner of Public Safety, Superintendent of Recreation, and other relevant City officials. In addition, he will be meeting with the leaders of the RyeACT Coalition, Rye Fund for Education, Raise, as well as attending PTO meetings at each school, student performances, and sporting events.
The Entry Phase (July 1 to December 31) will be followed next year by the Analysis and Planning Phase (January 1, 2018 and beyond). “I will analyze the collected information and identify strengths, challenges and opportunities,” promises Byrne. His next step will be to develop preliminary goals and begin the process of developing action plans and implementation teams.
Board members expressed their appreciation for the level of planning and detail behind Dr. Byrne’s Entry Plan. It’s a brand new day at the Rye City School District.