NEW ULM - "To listen and learn" is central to what newly-appointed Superintendent Jeff Bertrang has planned out for the start of his tenure in District 88.
In the coming school year, Bertrang plans to meet with staff, students, parents and community members to listen and learn about New Ulm Schools and the community at-large, he tells the school board.
Bertrang, previously the superintendent at GFW Schools, has been on the job in New Ulm for less than a month. He replaced long-term Superintendent Harold Remme, who retired on June 30.
Bertrang says he also plans to work with the school board to develop a long-range planning process that provides a focus and direction for the district to follow.
His goals also include:
Encouraging and supporting a culture of innovation and calculated risk-taking that provides new opportunities for our schools and students.
Collaborating with community organizations with the intention of working together for the common good of schools and communities.
Focusing the district on student achievement and growth through data analysis, common assessments, aligned curriculum and effective research-based teacher strategies.
"It is important for leaders to have goals that support the organization as it moves forward," Bertrang tells the board. "The goals will provide me a direction to support staff and students."
Bertrang also tells the board he has had the opportunity to visit with board members this month, in individual sessions, to learn more about them and the superintendent and board members can do together.
"This helps me to better understand the district processes and to get [board members'] focus for the future."
He reports he continues to spend time listening to staff and community members about New Ulm and the school district.
The sessions with board members and community visits are all part of his 90-day transition plan, he says.
"I will continue to visit with staff in the next couple of weeks and months ahead to listen and learn."
Bertrang attended the Region V superintendent session last week. This was a session geared to superintendents new to the region, he explains. The session covered aspects of finance programs and human resources options in software. It provided tools for district budgeting.
Also on his schedule was attendance of the annual school law conference July 22 in Brooklyn Park. The conference offers opportunities to get current information about school case law, changes from the past legislative session and federal government mandates that have sifted through to schools, he explains. Topics discussed include employee rights and discipline. Special education law updates are also presented.