School Board starts to plan for future

Friday, April 3, 2009

School board members made a start on a five-year plan for Marshall County Schools at their work session Monday.

The work session followed the short special-called meeting that featured the momentous vote on the K-6 configuration of the Lewisburg elementary schools. The boardroom had been packed for this, but none of the audience was interested in staying to hear about long-term planning.

"Investing in the future by maximizing the potential of all students," is the Board's agreed mission statement.

"Now we need to state about five goals," said chairwoman Ann Tears.

"Yes," agreed Stan Curtis, director of schools, "You really want about five long-term goals for your district from the board. When you have goals and a vision, you hand them to the director and the central office staff to accomplish."

"A middle school in Chapel Hill," said Mark Wilkerson. "That's my number one goal. We've got to get something going in the north end. I'd like the whole board to have this as a major objective over the next three to five years. It could be as simple as an addition to the elementary school."

"I agree," said Randy Perryman, the other Chapel Hill board member. "We looked into an addition (to the elementary school) two or three years ago, but didn't think it was feasible."

"My goal is to have a 21st century curriculum and learning facility," said Tears. "Another goal is for Marshall County to be in the top 10 percent academically, and for us to have a diverse teaching and administrative staff in all schools."

"That's easier said than done," commented Kristen Gold. "How do we attract them here?"

"Hang on to the ones we have," exclaimed Craig Michael.

"The sixth graders to go to Lewisburg Middle School - that's my goal," said Curt Denton.

"That's a detail, not a goal," said Kristen Gold.

"His goal may be maximizing the utilization of space across the district," contributed Curtis.

The board asked Curtis for his goals, and he said they were to gain consistency; optimize and maximize time on task; make sure to look at differentiated instruction; and use data to drive instruction.

"We have some pockets of excellence teaching block," Curtis said. "The American Diploma Project may change a lot of things - it's been the talk across the state how ADP will change things."

Wilkerson and Denton brought up the problem of high school seniors who had enough credits to graduate in December not being allowed to stay on with their class to go to the prom and get their diploma.

"I got phone calls about the early graduation thing," said Wilkerson.

"My whole thing is to follow board policy and state law," said Curtis. "There are school rules that I don't know where they came from."

"They're not written down," added Michael.

"Can we get the graduation thing fixed for this year?" asked Wilkerson.

"I don't know," admitted Curtis.

"I'd like to do this more often," said Mike Keny, referring to the board's freewheeling discussion.

"Yes," agreed Wilkerson. "We could have a monthly workshop with active discussion like this. It's hard to have open dialogue at a meeting."

"Don't wear yourself out with too many meetings," cautioned Curtis.

Seven goals were on the whiteboard when the meeting ended: a building project in the north end of the county; a 21st century curriculum and learning facility; sixth grade at LMS; Marshall County in the top 10 percent academically; stability; diverse teaching and administrative staff at all schools; and addressing school rules.

The board's proposed Vision Statement is:

"Marshall County Schools will be a place where all students will be motivated to be successful. A place where teachers will be diverse and invested in a successful learning environment that adequately prepares students for post graduation to become lifelong learners."