Coming up on the end of a five-year cycle — and after an on-site accreditation visit highlighted some expiring policies that did not meet Kansas State Department of Education guidelines — the Newton school district's Professional Learning Council has been retooling its plan for the next cycle, something that was brought before the Unified School District 373 Board of Education at its meeting on Monday.

The plan highlights membership, roles of the council and what staff can do to earn professional learning credits. Outlined in the presentation to the BOE were some of the responsibilities of the the PLC (like annual training and regular meetings), as well as some insight into how those credits are doled out to district staff.

Members of the PLC noted the district is focused on job-embedded professional learning. At the application level, that can mean taking something they have developed and worked on with students in the classroom — stemming from research, a workshop, etc. — over nine weeks to be approved by the PLC (for double the professional learning credits). Impact level is a little more in-depth, spanning an entire semester and requiring data to be accumulated on how the new strategy is affecting students. At the impact level, though, teachers can earn triple the professional learning credits for successful integration as determined by the PLC.

Job-embedded professional learning is just one opportunity for credits, PLC members clarified, as they noted to the board that district teachers can also earn credits for working on a master's degree or taking college courses. Any way those credits are pursued, the PLC team noted that provides a great gift to educators — an opportunity to learn, grow and reflect as a community.

In other business, the BOE:

Appointed Joni Jantz as board clerk and Matt Morford as deputy clerk for the 2019-20 school year.
Appointed Jane Nichols as board treasurer for the 2019-20 school year.
Approved the consent agenda items, including network equipment purchases for the Opportunity Academy, payment for the Newton High School chiller and official appointments/designations for the 2019-20 school year.
Approved 2019-20 handbooks for classified staff and Chisholm Middle School students.
Approved the recommended policy updates from the Kansas Association of School Boards, including 19 revisions and the addition of one new policy on suspension (of district administration).
Approved annual organizational resolutions for the 2019-20 school year, including the designation of eligible financial depositories, authorization of petty cash funds, establishment of board meeting dates/time/location, etc.
Reviewed school improvement plans, which are a required part of accreditation and intended to reflect the district's goals (for relationships and a responsive culture), as well as building-based improvement goals for each Newton school.
Reviewed handbooks for the new Opportunity Academy and district administration, to be approved at the school board's next meeting.
Was updated by Superintendent Deb Hamm on a federal grant for safety/security measures, with the district making it through the first round recently. With two more rounds to go in that grant process, she noted a final decision is expected sometime in August.