School board discusses goals, vision, courses
No action was taken, but nearly three hours of discussion did Monday night at the Baldwin Board of Education's work session.
The school board talked about a couple items that will appear at the Nov. 13 meeting. Those are course offerings and the vision and goals of the board.
"We are going to think about them in between the meetings," School Board President Alison Bauer said. "We may seek input from the community about these topics, because we can use that."
On May 11, the school board voted 5-2 against adding two honors classes at Baldwin High School. A decision had to be made that night, which forced the school board to make a quick vote.
Once again that topic has resurfaced, because the board must approve new classes by early January. The board will be taking a look at course offerings at BHS as well as Baldwin Junior High School.
"We need to take care of all of the students," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "We have a wide variety and we want all of them to go out and be successful."
At Monday's meeting, Dorathy said he watched a television program where several admissions' representatives from a few prestigious universities around the country were interviewed.
Dorathy said the representatives discussed grades, test scores and course offerings when it comes to choosing a student for their college.
"There is no one specific thing that they look at," Dorathy said. "The ACT and SAT scores are important, but they aren't the only thing. They want to make sure the student took the most rigorous classes that they could take."
After Dorathy said this information, Curriculum Director Connie Wehmeyer presented some research findings about course offerings and student groupings.
Wehmeyer said she met with several teachers last week to talk about course offerings at the two buildings and how that would affect the students' learning.
"We had some discussion on leveling classes, honors classes and how we should go about this," Wehmeyer said.
Then she went on to explain some research data about classes with similar learning levels and those with different levels. After she was done informing the board, she gave her own opinion.
"My own personal experience was eye-opening," Wehmeyer said. "Cooperative learning and differentiative instruction are the best ways."
The school board took her information and will use it to help them decide what to do at its next meeting.
The other topic for the night was the board's vision and goals. Many of the board members want to change the current vision statement.
"It's all nice, so there is nothing to criticize about that," Bauer said. "I just think we should leave out that purpose and passion part."
Board Member Ande Parks doesn't like it either and wants a simple vision for the board.
"I think it's silly," Parks said. "The goals are in line with what we have talked about. Something generic is fine with me for our vision. We want something that people can understand."
Dorathy had an idea on how the board could get started on choosing its own vision statement.
"You're each going to bring your own individual ideas and you should," Dorathy said. "You're looking at a vision specific to you guys. This is a chance to get lots of ideas out and talk about those. You don't necessarily have to nail anything down, but take those ideas and create a vision that fits what you want."
Board Member Scott Lauridsen agreed, saying each board member had their own reasons for joining and those should be included in the goals.
"Everybody brings their individual reasons and we can combine those items and out of those comes our vision," Lauridsen said.
After a discussion about its main vision statement, the board couldn't decide on one. It did choose "We will provide an exceptional educational experience" to work with that night.
With that in place temporarily, the board went to work on large goals for itself. Those were to improve leadership, instruction, facilities, activities, communication and technology.
Under each of those categories were more specific details, but those were all just ideas being tossed around that night. Bauer said once those goals are in place, it will help Dorathy.
"That gives him a direction to go to in his work," Bauer said. "If we articulate what our vision is, then that tells him exactly what his job is, because he wants to make that vision happen."
Bauer also said the work session was very helpful to the board, because they feel more open to express ideas.
"It was an excellent discussion for the board," Bauer said. "Like Mr. Dorathy said, these work sessions are our only time to hash things out. We have to do all our meetings in the public and sometimes we are hesitant to bring things up, because it might be off message or fear that no one else is thinking that and we are just a lone voice in the wilderness. To have these work sessions is very helpful."
The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the District Office.