I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
This past week, the school board members received two "exit-interviews" via emails addressed to the Superintendent and copied to the board. One was from a retiring employee from one of our inner city schools, the other was from a student who graduated from one of our High Schools in 2014.
Exit interviews provide invaluable insights into conditions within an organization.
When conducted properly, these interviews provide the opportunity for the person leaving the organization to leave feedback that can be constructive for the organization going forward.
As a board we have discussed exit interviews in workshops, yet I'm not aware that we have ever developed a firm, consistent district-wide policy on exit interviews. I think it is time to re-visit the issue.
Both of the emails we recently received were fascinating, because it was plainly evident that the writers both cared deeply about our schools, even though one was heading into retirement, and one is beginning a college career in another state.
Both of these email "exit interviews" were unsolicited.
From the employee's perspective--the district must address significant problems with the implementation of our FOCUS computer software program. The employee provided compelling examples of the frustration and non-user friendly aspects of FOCUS that employees deal with in trying to use this software system; some of these issues are profound and have compliance implications that must be addressed by the district ASAP (Information security, attendance, ESE services, etc.) This employee also spoke of the significant benefit at her school of having a more robust police presence. from this retiring employee's email:
"Another thing I have noticed is when a police car is out in front of our school at closing time, less parents check their students out early. They, the parents, do not act crazy in the front office when the officers are in the school. Even students are calmer acting. We need a police presence to help us out, even if it is just in the mornings and afternoons for an our."
A student who graduated from one of the High Schools in District 1 also sent an email encouraging us to change our "core curriculum" in a way that provides graduates more opportunities to learn "soft-skills" like interviewing for jobs, writing good resumes, navigating the college application process, learning about finances, and the basics of adult, independent living. Interestingly, during the recent round-table on education, I heard much discussion from local business leaders on the panel about students graduating from schools locally lacking soft skills. So, to me, this is an area in which we need to improve for students and to help businesses with hiring graduates that are better suited to the workforce.
The email from this former student resonated with me, as I read it I could almost hear his plea that curriculum be modified to address these concerns for his peers that will follow him into adulthood going forward. From the former student's email:
"Students in Escambia County are not required to learn the basics of finance, and therefore make poor life decisions when they think they are a qualified adult. Personally, I had to figure out how to do my own taxes this year, and it caused me a lot of stress because I did not know what I was doing or who to talk to in order to find out. I am sure that I was not the only person that experienced this situation. I know entirely too many people that have moved out of their parents’ house without a stable financial foundation, and now they are struggling. These students are so determined to be an adult that they do not think of the consequences of their decisions. I also know too many females that have gotten pregnant simply because they think they are ready for a family. XXXXXXXXXXX never even had a sexual education course to show students how a child would affect their life, let alone how to raise one. These young couples are making decisions that ultimately lead to their lives spiraling downward into crippling debt, and it is because they were never given the opportunity to learn that a family needs to be financially stable before they can even begin to think about expanding."
We can learn a lot from those who have left us and sent us feedback to make us better. I want to listen to these two individuals and at least have a discussion with the full board and staff about the issues they have raised. We can improve if we listen.