New Superintendent Lays Out Vision and Goals for Board

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By: 
Cameron Bren

MIDDLETON–In her first school board meeting since starting the job as the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Superintendent Dana Monogue laid out her vision and goals for the first semester.  

“Well 23 days officially on the job and it feels great to be here,” Monogue said. “Everyone has been terrifically welcoming throughout my entire transition process, from the time I was hired, to today.”

Monogue said that all of her time spent transitioning into the district has been guided by four overarching goals: To listen and learn about the strengths challenges and opportunities for positive change; gain understanding about of district goals, initiatives, protocols and processes; make meaningful initial connections with stakeholders; and gain understanding of expectations, values, norms and needs of greater community.

She said she felt compelled to share the highlights from meetings she’s had with teachers and parents.

“The community support for education here is amazing, which is something that you already know but coming from the outside I feel that in every interaction that I have,” Monogue stated. 

She added that every person that she’s talked to has asked her what she needed. She said district staff have also been great.

“We are fortunate we have a really talented staff, not just teaching staff. I was able to go out to the transportation department and meet those individuals, I’ve met with our district offices staff,” she said. “Everyone is positive and friendly and committed and that is exciting.” 

Monogue said she has seen that the community views diversity as an asset. 

“There has been a really strong focus on learning about equity and excellence for all, and while our district does have a long history academic excellence, we do have some gaps that we need to continue to address,” Monogue said. “We have done a lot of educating of our staff and now I think we are ready to put all of that good learning into some more purposeful actions.”

She said the fiscal state of the system is strong.

“We are not spending our time talking about the things that we are going to eliminate, reduce or cut,” Monogue said. “We have other issues that we have to deal because of the number of families moving into the district.”

She is also very excited about the referendum buildings projects and will be working on a communication plan to update the community on the progress of those projects.

Monogue shared some things she said seem like logical next steps for the system that she planned on addressing over the next year. 

“There are a lot of really talented people engaged in a lot of good work and now we need to build some systems of accountability to make sure that what we are doing we is really working and engaging in those conversations about if something isn’t working let’s stop doing it.” Monogue said. “We are going to be taking stock of all of the work in the district and making some decisions and doing some prioritizing.”

Monogue said the district has to address initiative fatigue.

“We just can’t do all of that wonderful work really well all at the same time, so finding that focus and organizational discipline is something that we are going to really focus on this year,” Monogue said.

Another area of focus will be analyzing compensation systems to make improvements to be able to better retain staff in highly competitive labor market.

“We are going to have to get even more serious in our hiring process,” Monogue stated.

Monogue said she will also work on maintaining a high level of transparency and communication about boundary work and referendum projects.

Student achievement trends for all students is something the district will need to work harder on Monogue added. 

“We are kind of trending downward, this is a concern but a more particular concern for students who identify as African American or Latin American,” Monogue said. “That equity learning that we have been doing we need to get a little more purposeful about what that actually means in our schools and at the classroom level.”

Lastly, Monogue said intends to intensify the district’s focus on innovation by looking outside the district. 

“We are situated in a community with so many business and industry partners that could engage with the work that we do with kids in some different ways,” Monogue told the board. 

During discussions with the mayor and city administrator, Monogue said they discussed partnering in that work.

She shared her goals for the first semester and said she would give the board a follow up report at the end of the semester.

Those goals include: Working on building continuous improvement framework; ensuring a positive start to the school year; visiting every school every week to build relationships; facilitating boundary committee meetings; developing a communication plan for the referendum building projects and lay the foundation for another referendum in coming years; and continue to make connections with community members and stakeholders.

Monogue said her transition has been smooth and comfortable and especially thanked superintendent assistant Cheryl Jansen for her help. 

Board president Bob Green said he felt the same level of comfort he did three years ago when the former superintendent George Mavroulis was first hired.

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