As we wrapped up the end of the school year, our schools were bustling with activities to celebrate the end of another great school year.

From the always-anticipated Nichols Walk-a-thon raising over $20,000 for scholarships and worthwhile causes to the over 60 staff, parent, and student volunteers that helped make the annual Dawes Carnival a huge success, our schools enjoyed the celebration of many months of hard work.

I spoke to the graduating students at our District middle schools, magnet schools, Park School, and the Rice Education Center. I remain extremely proud of all that our students have accomplished. Their success is a testament to the dedication of our teachers, administrators, and support staff members and their ability to instill a love for learning in our students. Coupled with the ongoing support of their parents and family members, I know that we will hear great things about these graduates in the years to come.

In my first year as Superintendent, I spent a great deal of time listening and learning. The information that I gathered, coupled with extensive input from our community of educators, families and partners, laid the groundwork for the development of our District’s comprehensive five-year strategic plan. For the better part of the school year, we worked together to develop a plan that outlines critical strategies and sets forth an ambitious vision for continuing to move our District forward. These strategies support our mission to inspire creativity and prepare each student to achieve academically, grow personally, and contribute positively to a global society.

There is a great deal of work to be done in order to deliver on this plan. With looming budget deficits and financial uncertainty at the state level, I had to make some difficult decisions to ensure that the District remains fiscally responsible and on-track to achieve our goals. The decision to reduce staff is always a difficult one and I realize the impact that it has on our school community. Our intent was to keep reductions as far away from the classroom as possible while maintaining current class sizes.

This spring, I also completed a cost-neutral re-organization at the central office level that resulted in a reduction of overall staff. As a result, we were able to create new positions that provide the District with critical capacity around strategic planning and implementation, family and community engagement, curriculum and instruction supports, and targeted supports for struggling students while reducing overall positions and adding no extra costs to the District.

District 65 is fortunate to have a team of talented educators and staff to support our students and our schools. We have involved families that care deeply for the education of their children and a strong network of community partners that are profoundly committed to education and the promise it holds for all children. Thanks to these dedicated and talented people, we accomplish much in our classrooms and schools and serve our children and their families well.

As we continue to work together, I am confident that we can overcome any obstacles or challenges that lie ahead. I look forward to working with our staff, parents, and community members to provide every child with the opportunity to reach their potential. I am very proud of all that we have accomplished this year as we worked towards achieving this vision.

Thank you for a great year and your continued support of our schools. I hope that you have a restful and enjoyable summer. I look forward to welcoming all of our staff and students back in August.

This guest essay is taken from Dr. Goren’s end of year communication to the D65 school community.