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Superintendent McVeigh Presses Forward With Goals For 2008-09

In less than a week, classes resume for Beverly Hills students, who are enjoying the final days of summer. For parents, registration is underway, ironing out schedules.
For Kari McVeigh, superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District, her days are filled with enrollment, curriculum and classroom matters, making sure teachers are ready for the first day.
McVeigh, who oversees four K-8 schools, one high school, a district of in excess of 5000 students, not to mention hundreds of teachers and administrative staff, has worked diligently all summer.
Last week, McVeigh and 24 members of her staff attended a two-day leadership retreat at UCLA’s Faculty Center to gear up for the new school year.  Principals, assistant principals, teachers on special assignment and other educators learned what it means to be instructional leaders and how it translates into practice.
“As leaders, we want to model that teaching and learning process,” McVeigh explained. “We want to look at our teaching staff and district as a whole, and the results we get from student learning and determine what we need to do next.”
In July, McVeigh and her staff proposed SMART goals, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely or time bound.  Board of Education members approved 31 goals for the district. Topping the list is growing and strengthening instructional practices to ensure high levels of student achievement from small group instruction to formative assessments.
McVeigh said no new initiatives were introduced for the Fall. Instead, it’s continuation from previous year’s goals. “We are taking it where we left off in June and moving forward,” she said. “It’s difficult to get sustained growth if we switch strategies or theories.”
She said it is key to use student work as data to drive instructional decision working. One initiative that started last year is having teachers unite together and review students’ work to determine what each child needs.
“If you see a teacher getting good results, you want to know what they are doing,” said the superintendent. Knowing if students are achieving their learning levels is determined when they are tested.
Last week, the state released results from the 2008 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program showing California students are making steady progress in English-language arts, math, science and social science.  McVeigh said her team is reviewing the results for BHUSD second-graders through high school seniors tested.
“There are some successes and some challenges we are going to be addressing,” said McVeigh, who will be sharing broad data with teachers and staff this Tuesday during opening activities.
McVeigh, who’s been in education for more than 30 years, accepted her position as superintendent with the district in October 2006, replacing Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard. She’s credited with improving technology at the schools by creating a three-phase plan. Last year, phase one was completed with digital classrooms in a brand new Science and Technology center on the high school campus. Phase two will be completed before the end of the year, enhancing the technology infrastructure through the city’s Municipal Access Network, which connects all five schools to a greater network.
“When I came to this district, it was apparent there was no plan on how to deal with technology,” said McVeigh. “A lot of equipment was not maintained. Other equipment needed to be updated.”
Even though it is still several years away, an area McVeigh is planning ahead for is when the district switches from revenue limit to basic aid funding, which is based on local property tax revenues vs. average daily attendance. 
She said the district hired a consultant to go over the financial implications, student attendance, programs and facilities. There is also an advisory committee reviewing it as well.
McVeigh is a true educator at heart. She taught fifth grade for 11 years in Nevada before leaving the classroom to become an administrator, where she felt she could make more of an impact on larger groups of students. She said she learned that teaching is all about relationships. Having positive relationships with parents, PTA, the board and the Beverly Hills Education Found-ation are critical to forecasting a successful future.
“This is a community that believes every child should succeed,” added McVeigh. “The administrative staff believes it with their heart and soul.”

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