BV board discusses goals for district

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Berryville School Board revisited the district’s vision and mission statements at a workshop Tuesday evening, setting goals for superintendent Owen Powell and the district to work on over the next year.

The district’s vision statement, which was adopted by the board in 2015, states that all Berryville School District graduates will achieve their full potential to become creative, productive and responsible citizens in a globally competitive society. All students will obtain the skills necessary to be self-directed, critical thinkers and problem solvers who can communicate effectively in diverse situations and contexts, it says.

The mission statement, which was adopted by the board in 2015, states the mission of the Berryville School District is to ensure that every student who graduates has the knowledge and skills to be independent, self-sufficient and responsible adults who will succeed, contribute and compete effectively in a 21st Century global economy. The Berryville School Board, it says, is committed to creating an environment where every child achieves at high levels and is safe, valued and respected.

“We need to mirror what our vision and mission statements are or look at changing them,” Powell said. “The purpose of this meeting is to set goals for me and the district to work on for the next year.”

The number one goal, he said, should be student achievement and safety.

“It’s the number one reason why I’m here and why we’re all here,” Powell said. “They need to be high on our list of goals. Student achievement is a broad goal, which includes everything from the graduation rate to ACT scores.”

Tied in with student safety are facility projects, he said, particularly the construction of a new high school.

]“The building project is a very big priority right now,” Powell said. “I’ll be spending a lot of time on it. I enjoy it, but it will be consuming a lot of my time.”

He asked the board members what goals they would like to see the district work toward over the next year.

Among the goals listed were facilities and safety, communication with the community and staff, teacher accountability for student achievement, staff accountability, teacher retention and the possible development of a peer group to research the district’s salaries compared with other schools.

Board member Kristi Howerton said communication with the community will be key to making progress on the construction of the new high school and other projects.

“That will be a big goal to achieve everything,” she said.

In connection to communication, Howerton asked if a goal could be to work on the school website.

“I think it needs to be a little more up-to-date and user-friendly,” she said. “It would be nice if it was regularly updated.”

Powell said he would meet with the district’s network administrator, Ed Wallace, to discuss updating the website.

Board member Tyler Ashworth said cybersecurity is also something the district should research.

“I know a couple of schools in our area have been attacked,” he said. “I think that’s a growing risk.”

Board members LeeAnn Ashford and Chad Hipps voiced their concern over the district’s teacher retention rate.

“We have a lot of new teachers,” Ashford said. “It’s about 40 percent in five years. We need to keep good quality people.”

Powell said the district has been looking into ways to improve teacher retention.

“One of the things is to try to get our base pay up,” he said. “We’ve got to be careful about staying within our budget, but I agree 100 percent that we’ve got to get our base pay up.”

Ashworth said he would like the district to develop a peer group to compare with regarding wages, salary, benefits and turnover rates. Powell said they would need to determine if they want to form a peer group based on location or conference, noting that there can be many variables between schools.

“When you take all the schools in our conference, our base pay is extremely low,” he said. “Our base pay in $34,750, which is the lowest in the conference. The next two closest were about $35,000 and $36,000, and the gap gets bigger from there.”

Powell said the district would look into the possible development of a peer group to research how Berryville compares with other school districts.

After establishing a list of goals, Powell suggested that the board pull data on the district’s performance in these areas from this school year and pull data on the same areas when it is time to evaluate his performance as superintendent.

“I’m getting ready to start working on these goals the rest of this school year, and this way I will be able to show you some concrete data next school year,” he said. “I can bring in the data and show you what your goals were for me and some things I’ve done in the last year to help improve those areas.”

The board also discussed making the vision and mission statements for the district more public. Board president David Waller suggested reading the statements before each board meeting.

“That way everything at the meetings is based on meeting the vision and mission statements,” he said.

Powell agreed and said he would also like to see vision and mission statements be made more public.

“To make these important, we need to post them and talk about them regularly,” he said. “It hasn’t been done in the past, not in my 11 months, either. The vision and mission statements drive your school. We need to make these way more public.”

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 13, in the Intermediate School Cafetorium.

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