In the future, Manassas schools will promote inclusion, embrace parent outreach and deliver on promises to provide all students with a quality education to start them on a college/career path, according to a blueprint delivered Tuesday by Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk.
Magouyrk, hired by the district over the summer, delivered her “100 Days” report to the Manassas City School Board Tuesday night. The report combine both her observations over what she had absorbed from her first few months on the job as well as a long-range plan to improve student achievement while building for future expansion.
Magouyrk assessment was refreshingly frank noting both the solid assets possessed by the 7,100-student system, as well as its blemishes.
She applauded district teachers and administrators. Both worked overtime this fall to meet a tough deadline to apply for a $10 million U.S. Education Department’s Race to the Top grant.
Student achievement is not where the district would like it to be, but it’s getting better, she said. For example, Osbourn High School has improved its graduation rates for the past three years, increasing the ratio of students who exit high school with a diploma in their hands. Even that good news, however, comes tinged with a not-so-silver lining. The high school graduation rate is at 83 percent, below the 85 percent state benchmark, earning the high school a warning from the state.
“The obstacles need to be removed so we can move forward,” she said. “The bottom line is we must raise test result in all schools and increase the graduation rate at Osbourn.”
Magouyrk pledged to build an administration that will emphasize transparency and seek to bring in the parents who need to be involved in their child’s education. She said she would also labor to improve the image of the district, which she said has suffered.
“Many misconceptions are created by detractors and isolated media reports,” according to a written, formal report she submitted to the board. The district “needs to make a commitment to honestly and pro-actively push out accurate information about,” the school system.
“We must decrease discord and increase collaboration and commitment from the entire community to raise achievement,” she said. “We must plan our future through an inclusive process.”
Her blueprint contained no budget figures. Those will be presented over the next few months, along with a facilities improvement plan and a five-year maintenance plan.
“We all own the graduate,” she said. “When these kids graduate, they make us proud. When they drop out, they become a drain on society.”
Board members were impressed with Magouyrk’s plan.
“I really appreciate that when you talk, you are talking about all the kids,” said Board Member Tim Demeria. “Every single one of these kids is precious.”