Members of the Shenendehowa Central School District Board of Education have wasted no time in planning for the next school year, diving head first into a district-wide goal planning session in July.
During its July 9 meeting, the board received a first look at a rough outline of longstanding goals that need to be refined as the new academic year approaches.
However, Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson said that the goal statements themselves have not changed since last year.
Those goals are:
- creating classroom experiences that are personally relevant to each student,
- creating a culturally responsive and inclusive environment for all students,
- providing significant support and professional development opportunities for school personnel and
- exercising fiscal responsibility on a district-wide level
Board members are now tasked with brainstorming specific steps to implement each goal based on longstanding objectives.
Robinson explained that the goals remain similar each year because starting from a blank slate each year would set progress back. Instead, he said, the board should focus on making small tweaks to ideas that they already know will be effective.
"How do we make some complimentary changes as we move forward?" Robinson said.
Robinson pointed out that if the structure of the upcoming year's rough goals look familiar, it's because the board has seen the end result before in various matters, including the district budget: it's planning for the future.
"At the end of the day, we're building goals for the success of all students," he said.
The goal planning process also includes examining the district's key mission and setting up more specific goals based on that mission, including analyzing which programs are needed at every level to set students up for success.
"Every year we want to do things that will add value to the organization and the mission," Robinson said.
Some of the objectives presented during the meeting touched on areas that the board has already placed a heavy emphasis on within the last few years. Those include implementing a program that will allow all students to have access to sufficient mental health services, and updating both the district's comprehensive emergency response plan and safety procedures.
Other objectives, Robinson said, show up year after year because they touch on efforts that could begin to feel like an option, rather than a necessity, to staff, such as making sure each student, at every level, is standing on the same ground at school and has access to the same opportunities to succeed, regardless of their race or their financial or family situation at home.
"You want every kid to feel connected, in some way, to school," he said.
Eventually, the goals will come back to the board for formal adoption. Before that, the group will go through a handful of more planning sessions to get specific objectives nailed down, aiming to keep in mind the overall mission of Shen, Robinson said, which is to make sure kids enjoy school.
"I want to take the stress off the system, and the kids within the system. How do we de-stress it, and not have the whole experience be this ridiculously stressful experience for kids? Because that's not a healthy experience for kids. They'll tolerate it, they'll survive it, but we don't want kids to tolerate and survive school. We want kids to thrive in the school environment," he said.