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School board approves professional development spending

The Fort Dodge Community School District Board of Education approved a series of spending requests for professional development programs and resources for the district’s instructional coaching and administrative team at its meeting Monday night.

The first request was for permission to spend $36,800 for consulting services from Diane Sweeney Consulting, of Denver, Colorado.

“We are moving in our instructional coaching framework to a student-centered model, which is through Diane Sweeney,” said Steph Anderson, director of elementary education services for the district.

For the consulting services, Diane Sweeney Consulting will host a two-day professional development lab onsite in the district each quarter of the school year. The fees include $9,200 for each set of on-site days.

“This learning will consist of face-to-face learning as well as on-site coaching labs, where instructional coaches and administration will be able to engage in authentic learning through observations and reflections on actual student-centered coaching cycles,” according to the proposal from Anderson and Kirsten Doebel, director of secondary education services for the district.

While there are eight on-site lab days that Diane Sweeney Consulting will be in the district, access to the organization to answer questions is “unlimited,” Anderson said.

The funds for these services and supplies will be paid out of the district’s Teacher Leadership Compensation budget, which is earmarked for professional development resources.

The school board also approved a request to spend $31,067.80 from the TLC budget for additional one-on-one coaching from Becky Hacker-Kluver, a leadership coach and former school principal who will build on the work the instructional coaches and administrators will be doing with the consulting firm.

“In the past two years, she has worked just with our administrative team,” Anderson said. “This year she is proposing to work also with our instructional coaches, looking at their student-centered goals. … She will work with every administrator and every instructional coach once a month.”

The third proposal from Anderson and Doebel was for permission to spend $51,000 for a continued partnership with Achievement Network to focus on supporting district and building leaders.

The project works to support the implementation of the high-level professional learning strategy set by the district during summer 2019.

“They are going to continue to help consult with us to ensure that work goes forward,” Doebel said. “And we had a lot of positive responses from teachers and administrators after those two days, and it really is at the heart of what we are doing from a curricular standpoint.”

The funds for this request will be paid out of the district’s Title V budget, which also funds professional development projects for educators and administrators.

During the discussion for the Diane Sweeney Consulting agenda item, FDCSD School Board President Stu Cochrane raised a question.

“At first blush, I was just taken aback by the cost,” he said. “Is that kind of standard?”

Anderson replied that the cost is standard for this kind of program.

The purpose of these professional development programs is to give teachers, administrators and instructional coaches the tools they need to be high-quality educators.

“We really want to build the capacity of the teachers so that when we’re going through curriculum in their classrooms – if there’s not time for this or not time for that, that they’re making informed decisions based on standards, not just ‘I don’t feel like doing that,'” Anderson said.