1013 Knox County sidebar

1013 Knox County sidebar

Turnaround inspires districtwide changes

By Madelynn Coldiron
Staff writer

Trickle-down theory is usually associated with economics, but Knox County Schools will be applying it to academics instead, thanks to the progress made by Knox Central High School, now in its second year of priority status.

New superintendent Kelly Sprinkles was so impressed he wants some of the high school’s strategies to be adopted in the district’s other schools.

The main vehicle that will be imported to the district’s elementary and middle schools is the 30-60-90-day planning system that is standard operating procedure for priority schools statewide, said Frank Shelton, the district’s instructional coordinator for college and career readiness. The planning essentially holds a school’s figurative feet to the fire, identifying challenges and coming up with a plan of action and timetable for each.

“Being a priority school with our 30-60-90 day plans and reports, that is the part that has helped us,” Knox Central Principal Tim Melton said. “Because these are the hard facts. This is the data right here, and you can’t run away and can’t hide from the data.”

The district leadership team will identify those central challenges for the district as a whole, Shelton said, using the district leadership audit and information from the TELL Kentucky employee survey. “If we can just identify two, three, four goals for the next year or two year and tackle them, then we’ve made great success,” he said.

District staff first will be trained in the planning process and then will begin looking at data, dividing up areas of responsibility, which will set an example for school-level staff, Shelton said.

“That way, we can go out and say, ‘We’ve been doing this. This works. This is not another task or duty we’re asking from you – we’re doing it ourselves,’” he said.

Principals at the other schools were briefed on the 30-60-90 planning process when Knox Central received its training, so those building leaders are familiar with it. Shelton said the education recovery team from the state education department also will begin “reaching out” to staff at the elementary and middle school level, “because you do have to identify your root cause and it does start at the elementary levels.”

To help mobilize staff districtwide, he said the administrative team will point to Knox Central as a model. “We just have to say it works, because we know it works,” Shelton said.

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