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  • The 2017-2018 school year was a year of significant change in the district and an extended look into the future.  An improvement vision is framed at the district accreditation level, is tailored at the building school improvement level, and is applied at the Professional Learning Community (PLC) level.  This hierarchy has allowed ideas to flow through the district to push for best practices in all classrooms.  Existing programs continued to build momentum towards the district’s commitment to educational excellence.  A few of the programs and/or groups making an impact in 2017-2018 were:

    • Black Out Bullying (BOB) week (K-12)   • Positive Behavior Support (K-12)
    • Blue Pride/Knight Pride (6-12)   • Online Learning (6-12)
    • Building School Improvement (K-12)   • PLC's (K-12)
    • District Accreditation (K-12)   • Read 180 (6-8)
    • Everyday Mathematics  (K-5)   • Response to Intervention (RTI)
    • Pre-PAES/PAES Program (9-12+)    

    External indicators (such as M-Step) saw a shift back towards a positive three-year trend line after some decreases in 2016-2017.  District to district and longitudinal comparisons have been a challenge due to the changes in test content and format.  Trenton Public Schools maintained itself above Wayne County and the State of Michigan averages on 17 of 18 indicators.  The district is in the top 5 in 10 of the 18 indicators and 17 of 18 in the top 10 of the 34 districts.

     District Successes 

    • (School Resource Officer) After periodic discussions with the City of Trenton dating back to the fall of 2014, the passing of the enhancement millage helped make the inclusion of a School Resource Officer (SRO) a reality. Research was done in conjunction with Trenton’s Emergency Services gathering tasks and duties that would best utilize an SRO for our students on our campuses.   A final outline identified training, awareness, prevention, and enforcement as support areas.  Interviews were conducted to find the best match between the department and the district.  The SRO focused primarily on the awareness and prevention aspects.  At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, Officer Davis used a community safety forum to introduce the concept of A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training.  The training will be implemented during the 2018-2019 school year.
    • (Elementary) Our two elementary buildings continue to outpace their peers in Wayne County.  A review through EIDEX analytics, places our two buildings second and fifth out of 40 neighboring elementary buildings.  Our academic indicators are above both Wayne County and the State of Michigan averages.  The cross collaboration continues to grow and provides program equity between the two buildings.  Community involvement is also increasing.  Strong PTO groups, the creation of the Watchdogs program, and the support of the Trenton Educational Foundation brings adults into the buildings on a weekly if not daily basis.  These individuals get to see the instructional programing being offered in a safe and clean learning environment.

    • (Capital Improvements Bond) Trenton Public Schools has a history of being fiscally responsible to its stakeholders.  During the difficult economic times through most of the last two decades, the district through the Board of Education has made difficult decisions that maintained strong academics but also kept the district within budgetary constraints.  This is evident by the forty years between the previous two bonds.  Programs and facilities were maintained by general fund revenues and the added support of the hold harmless millage.  The 2008 bond had a focus on external safety and infrastructure.  Making improvements to plumbing, cabling, electrical, and heating are necessary but not items that changed the internal or external image of our school buildings.  The main change that was visible was the modifications to the entryways that directed visitor traffic through the main offices.  Left off the 2008 bond were additions, cafeterias, media centers, and athletics.

      An assessment of the district in the summer of 2017 demonstrated that these areas were in much need of improvement.  Through the help of architects, construction experts, and engineers, a capital improvements bond was formulated and approved by the Board of Education in December of 2017.  To facilitate all the recommended improvements, the proposal asked voters to approve just under $57 million. After being approved by the Michigan Department of Treasury, it was placed on the May ballot.  The proposal passed in all seven precincts, and passed overall by a 60/40 margin.

      Preliminary planning has started and the goal is to put out bids for elementary improvements in December in order for work to begin in the spring of 2019.  The general three year timeline is elementary, high school, middle school, and then the service building.
    • (Early Severance Plan) The City of Trenton has been a destination for families to raise their children due to the quality of the city services and the educational programs offered by the school district. People have moved in and enjoyed their experience to the point of staying after their children have graduated.

      Trenton Public Schools has also been a destination district for quality certified staff.   Many staff hired by the district are coming to the district with previous experience and plan on Trenton Public Schools to be their last stop in their educational career.  An analysis of the 2017-2018 certified staff found that the average number of years in the district was seventeen.  Seventeen certified staff and administrators had more than 30 years with the district.  To improve district finances, create movement within the district, and provide a choice to long-time employees the district offered an early severance plan.  The plan attracted 15 participants to voluntarily sever their employment with the district.

      The late spring and summer were used by district staff to fill the vacancies.  Of the 14 replacements hired:
    • Seven have a bachelor’s degree
    • Seven have a master’s degree
    • Eleven come to the district with previous experience

      These facts reinforce that Trenton Public Schools is attractive to educators and it allows us to have the opportunity to hire quality staff.

    Building Summaries

      • (Elementary) Our two elementary buildings continue to outpace their peers in Wayne County.  A review through EIDEX analytics, places our two buildings second and fifth out of 40 neighboring elementary buildings.  Our academic indicators are above both Wayne County and the State of Michigan averages.  The cross collaboration continues to grow and provides program equity between the two buildings.  Community involvement is also increasing.  Strong PTO groups, the creation of the Watchdogs program, and the support of the Trenton Educational Foundation brings adults into the buildings on a weekly if not daily basis.  These individuals get to see the instructional programing being offered in a safe and clean learning environment.
      • The elementary buildings will be changed dramatically by the 2018 bond.  New spaces will be added for kindergarten classrooms, physical education, food service, and music.  Obsolete spaces will be repurposed for media centers, STEM education, ancillary spaces, and more classrooms.  These improvements will ease the capacity issue being experienced at both buildings.

      • (Arthurs Middle School) Arthurs Middle School’s “Schools to Watch” program is a model that is reviewed annually by many other districts seeking to improve their Grade 6-8 buildings.  This program requires a building to change its philosophy from a junior high to a middle school.  A middle school monitors a student’s social and emotional wellbeing in addition to the academics.  The middle school was using MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) before MTSS had a definition.  Team meetings along with thumbs up/thumbs down offer formative assessment for early intervention for any student experiencing a significant change in behavior or achievement.

      • Arthurs Middle School staff has been a district leader in the inclusion of technology into their teaching and assessment practices.  The district along with the TEF has supported the deployment of Chromebook carts in the middle school building.  The building current has assigned two carts per team.  Add these to four computer areas and two additional carts already utilized -- Arthurs has the capability of providing a one to one experience. 

      • (Trenton High School) Trenton High School, like our other academic levels, continues to outpace Wayne County, Michigan and national averages on a variety of academic indicators.  To entice students to take advantage of the rigor of the high school program, the administration recommended that a weighted grade point system be used for Advanced Placement classes.  Trenton High School uses a standard 4.00 point scale for most classes.  Starting with the class of 2019, a student successfully passing a trimester of an AP class will earn 1.00 additional grade points.  Initial data for 2018-2019 indicates that the strategy is having the desired impact.  There are 296 seats filled in ten (10) AP sections.  Both of these are the highest values in recent years if not ever.  Twenty-nine sophomores are enrolled in an AP class and this is up from seven in 2017-2018 and one in 2106-2017. 
      • The high school is making headway into the concept of MTSS by participating in a School Culture and Climate initiative being facilitated by Wayne RESA’s Dr. Felicia Humes.  All staff based at the high school is invited to participate.  This includes teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, administrative assistants, and other support personnel. Trenton Athletics had another successful year participating in the Downriver league.  The Downriver League (DRL) was formed in 2009 with the concept of reducing travel cost and generating healthy crosstown rivalries.    Trenton High School, currently the smallest DRL school, has been one of the most successful programs in the league and offers one of the highest levels of participation.  In 2017-2018, Trojan teams won nine league championships and had a team in all 23 varsity sports offered by the league.

    Moving forward

    There are many uncertainties facing public education.  There is quiet nervousness related to the upcoming November elections in Lansing.  Changes in State government in 2010 brought a significant amount of change in funding, curriculum, and accountability to the educational landscape.  The school district will need to monitor, react and when possible be proactive in making the most of the positives and reducing the negatives.

     The choices by Trenton Public Schools in 2017-2018 have strengthened the foundation.   In 2018-2019, the district’s buildings will anchor on that foundation -- physically through the bond and academically through the strengthening of our programs.  We trust our goals and vision to make our choices in the best interest of our students.  The striving to continuously improve can be guided by the Board of Education, district accreditation, and administration to impact achievement in the class room. The immediate horizon has us climbing towards our district goal of Educational Excellence:  Preparing Students Today for Their Successful Tomorrow, and making each of our buildings, A Great School for Each and Every Child.

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