Board of Education Statement
Running a school district involves complex coordination between students, teachers, parents, administrators, elected officials, and the larger district community. Members of our district community do not always agree on the particulars of how to most effectively educate. The disagreements can naturally devolve into fierce debate, because when it comes to educating our children, the stakes are high. But differences of opinion that lead to intense strife or discord can also prevent a school from achieving its full potential for success by limiting our ability to work together.
Over the past few years, our district has found itself embroiled in controversy and disagreements that have divided our community, harmed relationships, sown mistrust, and, what is most concerning, affected our students. As a result, many members of our community have lost faith in the Board of Education. As we deliberated over the hiring of our new superintendent, we realized that any new hire would be on unstable footing if we failed to address this issue. Although we have known that this district is in need of healing, we acknowledge that to this point we have not taken the necessary and difficult steps to begin that healing process.
In advance of announcing our hiring decision, we are laying out a plan to actively reach out to the entire district community to rebuild trust with the Board of Education and begin to repair fractured relationships. As we put this plan into place, we will work with the new Superintendent to identify further areas of growth that can help us to become a more effective board. We welcome your comments on these planned actions.
· We will schedule monthly board training workshops to help us better assess the needs of our community and develop goals to meet the community’s needs.
· We will seek professional guidance in setting goals to outline a district vision and develop actionable and measurable goals to evaluate the superintendent. These goals will be based on the community-created strategic plan and adjusted annually to meet ongoing demands.
· We will build a more effective communication plan, and we have already begun this work. We want our community to know about our district’s successes and challenges. We want board decisions to be as transparent as possible, and we want community members to feel that they are being heard.
· We will actively engage with community members by setting a goal of holding at least one monthly meeting in addition to our regular board meeting. At this meeting, the superintendent and at least one board member will be available to share information, address concerns and answer questions from the community. The superintendent, and other staff as needed, will give presentations about new curricular efforts, the progress of capital projects, the budget development process, and other areas of public interest. Residents and community groups can also request additional meetings and specific topics for discussion.
· This spring, the board will begin its first annual self-evaluation, as outlined by the New York State School Boards Association. We will evaluate our effectiveness according to five standards: 1) Vision, Leadership, and Accountability, 2) Board Governance Policy, 3) Communication and Community Relations, 4) Fiscal Resources, Staff Recruitment and Environment, and 5) Ethical Leadership. A full report of this evaluation will be made public along with specific action plans to address the needed areas of growth.
In all the areas mentioned, the board will strive to limit district costs by relying on existing memberships and attorney retainers rather than incurring any additional expense as much as possible.
The success of our district is dependent upon our ability to collaborate with each other. There is unparalleled potential for success when the members of this community align their efforts for the good of our students. We can, and should be, a model that other school districts seek to emulate for successful community collaboration. The Board of Education, as representatives of the community, is committed to working with the new superintendent to provide this school with the leadership it needs to succeed and more thoughtfully engage with our entire district community.
It is healthy for our community to debate the details of how to most effectively achieve our goals. But when it comes to purpose, we should be unified in our mission of serving “Every student, every day.”