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Jones expects progress will continue

Chairwoman Heidi Jones may be the head of the Red Wing school board, but she sees her position in more of a collaborative light.

"It's not a one-person job. It's not about what I think. It's about what the board has to decide collectively," she said.

Jones was re-elected by unanimous vote at last Monday's school board meeting. This will be her second year as chairwoman.

Jones said she wasn't surprised by the nomination. "I think the board had confidence in the job I did last year," she said.

That continuation of jobs begun last year seems to be a recurring theme for Jones' coming term.

This past summer, school administrators drew up a plan outlining four key areas to focus on in the next two years and set accompanying goals for how to improve those areas.

Some programs are already in place under this plan, and Jones sees progress to continue into the coming year.

"It's not that we haven't had those programs in place before, we just want to be better at it," Jones said.

The first area is teacher effectiveness. Teacher coaching -- getting more information to instructors and building their skills -- will begin in September.

The next area is curriculum. Jones says there needs to set standards -- based on state standards -- for what a child at each grade level should know.

The third area is intervention -- identifying and helping students with problem areas before they begin failing classes. This also includes identifying high-achieving students who may be bored in their classes and need enrichment. Jones says the processes for how to deal with these students needs to be "systematic."

The final area is culture and behavior. Jones says the key is student-teacher relationships. The new advisory period at Red Wing High School is part of this goal. "We want to be able to talk to [a student] and say, 'It's not looking too good for you this week. What happened?'" she said.

Looming large on the horizon is the search for a new superintendent. And while change is sure to come with the switch, Jones says one of the most important qualities the new administrator should have is a willingness to continue working with the goals the district already has in place.

"[The new superintendent should] work with us and meld with what we've already been doing," she said.

Yet the biggest challenge that Jones sees for the board is finances. A new legislative session means uncertainty for how many federal dollars the district will get. And that makes planning hard, Jones said.

"Without knowing what we have, then we don't know what we can do as far as continuity," Jones said. "We have these ideas and visions, but then the financial parameters can sometimes determine what you're able to do."

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.