Dear PCSSD Family:
First, to all PCSSD parents, students, teachers, and staff – welcome back! I’m never happier than when our buses are running, our schools are bustling with students, and we’re back in the swing of learning. This was the first week of school for students in the Pulaski County Special School District after a long summer of careful preparation. I know everything has not gone perfectly. A few buses have been late, we had some traffic issues, and some student schedules needed to be corrected. But overall, things have gone well. Very, very well!
So often we focus on the negative things in our lives and fail to recognize the positives. So I want to share the other side of the story …. What were just a few things that went right?
- The District’s enrollment is up. More families are seeing improvement in the district and want to be part of it.
- The District has taken a prominent leadership role in academic issues and student performance. We are out front in CCSS, teacher evaluation, professional development, advanced placement programming, etc. Our patrons have noticed, and are returning their students to our classrooms for the outstanding academic opportunities we offer.
- More than 17,000 students had a safe trip to and from our 37 campuses on that first day, and many of them rode our more than 275 buses. We cover about 740 square miles, a huge geographical area more than half the size of the state of Rhode Island, and we get our students to and from school safely every day.
- More than 11,000 students ate breakfast, lunch, or both at school. There were healthy and tasty choices available. For some students these were the best – or only – meals of their day. Our student nutrition department is top-notch.
- PCSSD’s 2,800 employees, including teachers, principals, and other professional staff greeted students, helped them find their classes, began the teaching process, and did an exceptional job. Most teachers spend much of their summer preparing for the next school year so that things start right, including decorating classrooms so students are comfortable.
- There were facility improvements at many of our schools. We have new paint, roofs, gym floors and bathrooms, carpet, tile, media centers, technology, furniture, etc. Yes, there is still work to do, but we made a phenomenal start. Schools were cleaned, floors were waxed and grounds were tended.
- Secretaries and other office staff greeted students, helped parents, and handled problems. We all know that as the year goes along these people will handle thousands of jobs, and virtually every one of those jobs will in some way impact students.
We live in a wonderful state with good schools. Like all districts, we have our challenges, but they are not insurmountable. We are in improvement mode, and we have made tremendous strides. So let’s try to focus on the positive this school year – on what goes right. Please share your concerns and ideas for solutions, but let’s also take time to share when something makes us happy. When teachers do a great job, tell them. When your child experiences success, celebrate. If a principal begins a program that you like, let him or her know.
Thank you all for being part of PCSSD, and please know you have my very best wishes for a successful school year.
Jerry Guess, Superintendent of Schools