One of my goals since arriving in Seneca was to develop a Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) that would drive our decision making on a district-wide basis.

This type of plan requires input from several parties to be successful. We polled the parents and teachers; met with a group of parents, teachers and community members; held an administrative team retreat; and convened work sessions with the board of education in an attempt to determine what is important to our district.

In the end, we felt the following five FOCUS areas were important to help us continue to improve as a district and make Seneca a great place to receive an education:

• Focus #1 – Continue implementing PLCs.

• Focus #2 – Provide a safe learning environment.

• Focus #3 – Promote a 21st Century school.

• Focus #4 – Maximize Human Resources.

• Focus #5 – Improve the Seneca R-7 image.

There is no relevance to the sequence of numbers; all areas are considered equally important.

In order to achieve these we have established some goals for each. Focus #1 goals: Have all staff attend a PLC conference within two years, increase attendance at the Powerful Learning Conference, create opportunities for teachers to learn from peers, provide time for collaboration and RtI (intervention time for struggling students), and establish guaranteed curriculum in all content areas.

Focus #2 goals: Provide safe facilities, develop well-trained staff members in crisis response, provide safe learning environments for students, and improve communications plans.

Focus #3 goals: Provide greater career exploration opportunities K-12, implement greater STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and problem-based learning into the everyday curriculum, nurture an environment that rewards creativity and problem solving in students, and provide technology necessary for access to learning materials for every student.

Focus #4 goals: Improve financial package for staff members, increase retention of staff, and improve recruitment efforts. Focus #5 goals: Increase the publicity of quality programs and staff in the schools, increase the number of presentations made by staff at conferences, and increase the involvement of parents in the schools. The entire CSIP will be posted to the district website.

With the board approval of the CSIP, the buildings can now begin to create Building Improvement Plans (BIPs). These are developed at the building level to support the district goals. Therefore, the CSIP essentially focuses all improvement efforts district-wide around one set of goals.

Nearly 30 “measurables” have been created already that will be used to measure whether or not we are making progress toward our goals. For example, one measurable for Focus #1 is “Improved score on the state-approved PLC rubric.” When an independent group measures our PLC progress, we want to show improvement.

Another example would be in Focus #2, “Create an anonymous tip-line for reporting bullying and other problems on campus.”

Our goal is to be an organization that has a mindset of constant improvement. The CSIP helps define our areas of focus and make transparent where we are heading. Thanks to all who contributed to the development of this plan.

Enjoy your long weekend!

(Dr. Jim Cummins is superintendent of the Seneca R-7 School District. He can be reached at


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