School board looks at operating procedures

Tue, 03/04/2008 - 4:38pm
By: Ben Nelms

A Fayette County School Board retreat March 1 was essentially a planning session designed to look at the school system’s strategic plan and included a lengthy discussion of the system’s vision, mission and belief statements.

One of the topics at the meeting involved the initial discussion of establishing board operating procedures.

“Through the Georgia School Boards Association, we are participating in the Distinguished School Board program and we’re named a distinguished board,” said Superintendent John DeCotis. “One of the requirements was to get our policies online, which we are in process of doing. Some are online and some we’re working on. We looked at the directions in our strategic plan because we’re going to be meeting later in the month with staff.”

Another facet of the program involves conducting a self-assessment, reviewing areas that might need improvement.

“One area for improvement was organizational structure. We talked about coming up with a procedures manual for the board so that we are all following the roles we need to follow,” DeCotis said.

Perhaps as important to the operational function of any organization are the vision, mission and belief statements that forms the basis of an operation. Those items are reviewed annually by the board and are a part of the Board of Distinction process.

An organization’s vision statement is customarily brief, encompassing and far-reaching. Addressing the school system’s vision and the mission statement and beliefs that flow from it were Director of Secondary School Improvement and Professional Learning Terri Gaspierik and Assistant Superintendent for Education Lyn Wenzel.

“There is a big picture of what students should know when they finish Fayette schools,” Gaspierik told board members as they began the discussion.

The draft vision statement that received consensus read, “Our students will be prepared for a self-sufficient, independent, and productive life.”

After a long discussion, the board completed a draft mission statement stating, “The mission of the Fayette County School System is to deliver effective instruction and set high expectations resulting in continued improvement in student achievement.”

The current mission statement reads, “The Fayette County School System commits to excellence through effective instruction, high expectations and continued improvement.”

Also part of the meeting’s purpose was to assess the four current belief statements and determine if those statements required modification. Some modification of the current statements resulted in those reading:

• Public education is the foundation of a free society.

• Schools exist to promote the intellectual, emotional and personal development of all students.

• All children can learn in a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment.

• Education is a partnership among students, parents, schools, and community.

DeCotis after the meeting gave an assessment of what had occurred. He said the suggestions made will be included in upcoming meetings with school system staff and will be added to previous community input.

“I thought the meeting was good. It was good we communicated on things and we came up with some strategies to address things that need to be addressed. We’ll be giving leadership to our staff about the vision and and mission statement and beliefs,” DeCotis said, adding that input from a community roundtable meeting held in September had been included in the board’s considerations.

“In the roundtable portion of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation we asked the three questions of citizens to get feedback. Those were, what are we doing well, what can be do better and what can we do to prepare for the future?”

The September roundtable results will be wrapped into the strategic plan now underway, said DeCotis.

The process will continue March 29 when board members will meet with directors and assistant superintendents to establish the direction for the strategic plan. Directors and assistant superintendents will update their sections on the plan and bring them to the board for a discussion in terms of what directions they would like to take.

The plan process will likely be completed before the end of the school year, DeCotis said.

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