MY TURN: School Board's Goals Set Tone for System
A goal is defined as "the result or achievement toward which effort is directed." I like the word "achievement" in the definition. That's what school systems are about -- students achieving to their maximum potential, thereby equipping them for happy, productive lives.
However, when student achievement is mentioned, most people think only about teachers, classrooms and textbooks. Obviously, the operation of a school system is much more complex than that, with a variety of components -- all of which ultimately lead back to that most important goal -- student achievement.
Earlier this fall, the Moore County Schools Board of Education established its goals for the 2006-2007 school year. The first is: "Seek resources and support policies and practices to promote the effective implementation of the MCS Strategic Plan."
The Strategic Plan is somewhat of a compass for the entire school district and gives direction to the staff. It addresses five areas: student achievement, climate, quality staff, community involvement, and effective and efficient operations. The complete Strategic Plan is on the Board of Education page of the school district's Web site at www.ncmcs.org.
The second goal is: "Acquire sufficient funding to implement Phase I of the Long Range Facilities Plan."
We've gotten off to a good start on the first four-year phase of our Master Facilities Plan with the purchase of a 12-classroom modular unit for Pinecrest High School. Overcrowding and aging facilities have made it imperative for us to address facilities needs countywide in a timely manner so that our students are provided an optimum learning environment. We have already begun, and will continue, to work closely with the county commissioners to determine the best means of funding these needs.
The third goal is: "Explore strategies for improving teacher working conditions."
If student achievement is our foremost goal, then the best thing we can do is ensure that our teachers are spending as much time as possible teaching our students.
Teachers have many other requirements that demand their time from record-keeping to duties outside the classroom and more. We will be soliciting input from teachers and administrators on what the board can do to ensure teachers have the maximum amount of teacher-student time, as well as appropriate time for such essentials as lesson planning, collaboration with other teachers and staff development.
The fourth goal is: "Develop a program to recruit and/or train a cadre of high quality school administrators."
There continues to be a teacher shortage in many subject areas. However, few people realize that this is also a growing problem in the number of high-quality educators who are preparing themselves to become future administrators. Moore County Schools provides training for aspiring administrators and limited tuition reimbursement for college courses -- but the shortage of qualified administrators continues to have a greater impact with each passing year.
The fifth goal is: "Initiate regular reports to the public on work of the board through major media outlets and school system media."
The board recognizes that the most effective school system is the one that has parent and community support. Both must be well-informed and have an understanding of decisions that are made. Our schools, through parent-teacher conferences, Web sites, parent newsletters, etc., do a great job of disseminating information. However, that should also be a goal of the Board. Many important decisions are made at the board level that affect not only employees but students, as well. Parents and others in the community must be kept informed and given the opportunity for input.
The final goal is: "Develop a technology plan to support staff and enhance student learning."
Obviously, there are many of us who completed our education without the benefit of a computer. However, because of the demands of today's workplace, we have a responsibility to see that Moore County students have the exposure and training in technology that is essential for success -- and this knowledge and skill requirement is only growing with each passing day.
Teachers must also be trained in the use of technology. Not only does it provide a wealth of resources for them to use in the instructional program, but technology has also become an effective and expedient tool for record-keeping, data gathering, monitoring student achievement, some testing, staff development, collaboration and sharing between teachers and more.
The goals established by the board set our focus for the coming year and also communicate to both employees and the public areas that the board deems to be priorities. Working cooperatively with the school district's employees, parents and community members, the realization of these goals will have a significant impact on our foremost goal -- student achievement.
We welcome your comments and encourage you to attend our monthly meetings at the Moore County Schools Central Office in Carthage whenever possible.
Charles Lambert is chairman of the Moore County Board of Education.
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