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School administrators head for Mammoth Lakes

by Merrie Leininger

Taking time to look back at the last year and plan for the next, the Douglas County School administrators will gather for a leadership forum this summer.

Superintendent Pendery Clark said the district has taken this training session for the past 13 years. On Aug. 11-14, they will return to Mammoth Lakes Lodge for the 3-1/2-day session in which administrators will hear updates on issues such as achievement level tests, data analysis, laws regarding expulsion and suspension of special education students and the new competency curriculum.

Clark said the administrators choose which issues are most important to get updates on before the beginning of the year. Other issues they deem important will be covered throughout the year.

The group also brings in a speaker paid by a grant, Clark said. Last year, for instance, John Stevens of the Texas Business and Education Coalition provided information on Texas’ standards-based curriculum and data analysis. A speaker has not yet been selected for this year’s training.

n Agenda. The group arrives in the afternoon on Wednesday and immediately goes into a business meeting.

Thursday is dedicated to the guest speaker and Friday the administrators get updates on those issues they chose.

On the last day, administrators write down their goals for the next year and write grant proposals for their schools.

“In a year round district like ours, we’re in school all the time. We need some ways of looking at the upcoming year and how to support teachers in a standards-based system and help them do a better job,” Clark said.

Clark said the focus of the session is different when the group gets away from the hectic school day.

“It is important to get away from the district. There are schools that have classes in session at that time, but we need to focus during that time. When we have meetings here, people always get pulled out for phone calls. We need to spend the time on staff development without interruptions,” Clark said.

Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School Elementary School Principal Charlie Condron said the training is important for the administrators’ relationships.

“I think, without a question, it is an opportunity for the team do a lot of team-building and to set goals for the year. It is very important to establish a good working relationship. We are alone most of the time during the year, and the retreat is an excellent opportunity to build relationships,” he said.

Getting away from school and family for a few days enables the group to for a bond, he said.

“It gives us uninterrupted time, from 7 in the morning to 5 at night to work together, then from 5 we go to dinner together – which we never do during the year – and we play volleyball together and go on hikes together. It’s team building we can’t get any other time,” he said.

Condron said the fact that the Douglas County Administration Association pays for much of the $5,000 retreat shows they regard it as worthwhile.

Clark said the district looks at all training-related costs stringently. She maintained this retreat costs less than sending the same number of teachers to a conference.

The costs broken down for last year’s training was $545 for the meeting room, $1,300 for lodging and $1,650 for food.

She said the district has set amounts for food and lodging per day used for any training and the administrators save money by sharing rooms with five or six others. Clark also said they looked at doing the training this year at Tahoe to be closer to home, but found out it would cost a lot more.