R2 Board Drafts Goals

The Board held a goal-setting session at its Tuesday night meeting. The agenda included an executive session to discuss personnel, legal and contractual matters and the opportunity to vote, but the Board chose not to vote, presumably saving that for the next regular scheduled Board meeting to be held May 28 at Polo Road Elementary School.

The goal-setting session was led by the Board’s attorney, Mike Montgomery, who also led the initial goal-setting session in mid-March. While the aid of a facilitator for such a meeting is not unheard of, it is uncommon and perhaps unwise that the facilitator be the attorney who negotiated Superintendent Katie Brochu’s employment contract with the District three years ago. Because roughly half of the meeting was spent with Montgomery speaking, leading and word smithing the Board’s goals. A facilitator completely neutral to Board and District politics would have presented an attempt at genuine reconciliation between community, Board and District executive staff.

Three Board goals were drafted to be finalized at the next Board meeting. Because these are not personnel, legal or contractual matters, the public can expect these to be discussed during the public session:

• The Board will strive to create a climate where every student, parent, faculty and community member can achieve a high level of success.

• The Board will encourage and support the development of improved skills and opportunities for professional learning so as to maximize the quality of teaching throughout the community of Richland 2.

• The Board will strive to lead our district by being fiscally responsible and demonstrably transparent in providing the resources necessary to operate our district.

The Board was initially asked to relay up to five Board goals so that common threads could be seen in their viewpoints. With the exception of Chairman Bill Flemming, who arranged the meeting with District staff, each Board member spoke of the need for the communication between Board and executive District staff to be more honest and transparent. Longtime member Melinda Anderson said that for the first time in her more than two decades on the Board she feels that the Board doesn’t get their due respect from the District Office. Similar concerns, though not as explicit, were echoed by other members. Mike Montgomery reminded the Board that communication is a two-way street and the Board might want to consider how they communicate with the District Office and schedule a meeting to honestly air their concerns.

A majority of the Board expressed concerns that each student be encouraged to reach their individual potential and that programs and teacher training be able and willing to meet the students’ goals and see them through the journey. Past Chairman Chip Jackson said he thought the historical and current successful work in the District meets the demands of students who come to school ready to learn. He said a growing number of children come to school with obstacle like uneducated parents, transiency, English as a second language and are not always ready to learn. These students’ burdens can be obstacles in learning that the District must strive to overcome to keep the district strong. In a similar vein, James Manning wanted to ensure that programs that offer choice in school and magnet offerings should be expanded. Monica Elkins stressed that families finding school environments warm and friendly are key to creating of place of high success.

Stay tuned for the final goals draft in coming weeks. In the meantime, the public is encouraged to write to the Board via addresses on the district website Richland2.org for any suggestions regarding the goals and work you expect of them.

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