All Employees,

On behalf of our School Board and the community we serve, I extend heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for the hard work and considerable expertise that resulted in another terrific start of a new school year!

Although the start of a new school year is a significant community event, few understand just how much is accomplished in just one teacher work week or how much preparation s necessary.

While each of us truly appreciate all of the behind the scenes work that makes the start of school possible, the average citizen likely never considers that over the summer our custodial staff clean, reset, and freshen up many hundreds of thousands of square feet of facility space, making us the largest property manager in the City of Salem.

Few realize that in addition to welcoming nearly 3900 students this year, we also resumed responsibility for the largest transportation and food service systems in the City.  There are indeed a wide-ranging set of operational necessities and people who make our core business of teaching and learning possible.

Invariably there are challenges, but having over 570 caring and committed employees focused on loving, engaging, and inspiring the students we serve always makes the difference.

In spite of the complexity and associated challenges, when I had the opportunity to visit each school several times during the first week, I was impressed to see how rapidly students were engaged in meaningful instruction designed by our extraordinary teachers.  Getting to observe students excited and engaged everywhere in the division is a true privilege because supporting what our students do in the classroom, in the lab, in the shop, and on the playing field is why all the rest of us do what we do all year round!

As always, we know that many challenging and rewarding days remain ahead, but the hard work and collaboration that resulted in a great first week can serve to remind us of what can be accomplished together.

Annual Start of School Report

I encourage you to visit SCS School Board Meeting Agenda Item 2.02, “2018-2019 School Year Opening Report” that will be presented to the School Board this evening (9/11/18) to access an informative, annual summary. (Note to New Employees: In addition to Board Meeting Agendas, Board Actions, and Board Reports, BoardDocs is also where you may find a searchable, web-based Policy Manual for the Salem City School Board.)

Communication Opportunities

Now that the school year is underway, our primary focus will be on supporting the life-changing work of our heroic profession.  As the year progresses, we will inevitably address issues that arise when working with nearly 3900 children (and their families) and engaging in the other behind-the-scenes work of the division.  In just two months, for example, we will begin the budget planning and preparation process for next year (SY 19-20).

With everyone fully focused on their own work with students and their individual areas of responsibility, it can sometimes be difficult to stay connected and informed.

SCS has a long history of well-established opportunities to remain informed and participate in decision-making. Attached to this email, please find a copy of the “Standing Meetings Memorandum” for this school year.  The Superintendent’s Communication Committee exists as a formal process to improve communication, to increase participation by committee members in decision-making, and to support them in communicating information back to their respective faculties and staffs.

As an additional source of information or to ask questions, representatives from the Human Resources and Business Offices will routinely visit faculty and staff meetings.  During these visits, they provide information and education to employees in person with regular follow up to all employees via email.  If you have questions about these meetings, or most anything related to your employment, please contact Human Resources.

While it is best practice to have formal channels of communication and standing meetings, we must never fail to leverage the advantage the size of our school division affords.  We are large enough to offer students a comprehensive and highly regarded set of programs, supports, and opportunities, but small enough to know and care for one another.  “Standing Meetings” are for routine and less urgent matters.  Please never wait for a future meeting to get an answer to an urgent question or to resolve a pressing concern.

In almost all cases, the fastest route to accurate information about your school or work-site will be your principal or immediate supervisor.  For specific questions or concerns, both the Parent/Families and Faculty/Staff sections of The Division Website feature a link to the Who to Contact for What resource.   (As staff members change and assigned duties evolve, this is a handy document when seeking assistance with more specific/specialized matters.)

As you encounter central office staff in your buildings, please do not hesitate to stop, chat, share a concern, or ask a question.  They are ready and able to provide answers, point you in the right direction, or follow up with the information you seek.

Please trust that you are also always welcome to contact me directly.  I am thankful that colleagues seek to respect my time and recognize that my schedule is often unforgiving, but I am committed to supporting those who have answered the call to serve children in Salem City Schools.  For this reason, I will always place a very high priority on returning calls, responding to emails, and scheduling conversations with Board employees.  My invitation to correspond, talk, or meet with students, parents, citizens, and staff is an open one.

If you ever do not receive a response from a school-based supervisor, administrator, or central office staff member within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays), please follow up with that person a second time to verify receipt of the message.  Similarly, please also resolve to always respond to messages from students, parents, citizens and colleagues within the same 24 hour time-frame.

Lastly, please remain mindful that in Salem City Schools, social media is for disseminating information, not for problem-solving.  Please never miss an opportunity to counter gossip or constructively direct someone you encounter online to contact their teacher, school, or the appropriate division office directly.

SY 18-19 Will Be Another Great Year!

As shared at Convocation, “a good beginning often determines the ending.”  Each and every year presents us with significant and unexpected challenges, but the collective and coordinated effort that resulted in a great start to the year can serve to remind us of what can be accomplished when we all work together and consistently summon our best attitude, rely on sound professional judgment, and commit ourselves to good communication.

Thanks again to everyone who has answered the call to serve children in Salem City Schools for a great start to the year!

Best regards to all,


Standing Meetings 2018-2019