Improved Academic Performance Focus of New Duluth Schools Superintendent

By Ivory Hecker

July 19, 2011 Updated Jul 19, 2011 at 10:54 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Duluth's new superintendent of Schools I.V. Foster opened his first school board meeting Tuesday night emphasizing the need to improve student academic performance.

Foster says this will be a year of assessing all of the district's programs and services and then focusing on improving and extending programs, lowering class sizes and hiring more teachers and support staff.

He told board members that all things on the table will be directed towards having an impact on lowering the achievement gap, increasing graduation rates and reducing dropout rates.

Superintendent Foster says he's spent time in the two weeks since he took over talking to the HR directors about staff levels and class sizes which he says are some of the most important things he wants to change.

"I've got to admit to you I'm very concerned about what I'm seeing preliminarily, and so we'll have some challenges to lower those class sizes," said Foster. "We want to certainly provide a very good quality education to our children, and large class sizes makes it very difficult for us to do that, so I'm hoping we can all focus on our commonality which is what's in the best interest of our students."

Foster said in addition to looking at finances to support teaching and learning in the school district, he's spent much of the past couple weeks with administrators and staff getting a crash course in finance 101 for the school district as it relates to the long range facilities plan.

By Ivory Hecker