Local school board members held a workshop Monday evening to begin a new round of goal setting and to review the duties of office. The meeting was led by Gary Sechrist, a leadership services field specialist with the Kansas Association of School Boards.
Aaron Emerson joined the school board in January following his election last November. While none of the other board members are new to the board, the meeting offered a crash course in everything from the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) to board development and strategic planning.
Sechrist said the number of KOMA violations seems to have increased in the past year, including one by the Central Plains USD 112 Board of Education last November. The board self-reported to Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office that it had violated KOMA by improperly discussing matters in executive session (the sale of a building at Bushton) that should have been discussed in its open meeting. According to Kansas law, boards of education may go into executive session to discuss the acquisition of real property, not the sale of real property. The case was settled with the board receiving training and agreeing not to violate the open meetings act in the future.
The seven responsibilities of school boards are to set policy, approve handbooks, direct the superintendent, evaluate the superintendent, set goals, oversee negotiated agreements and allocate resources. Sechrist said the key work of boards includes vision, relationships, policy, accountability and community leadership. “You’ve got to have buy-in with your staff and your community,” he said.
Assistant Superintendent John Popp provided a list of goals created after a previous workshop. Those goals, each with three or four related tasks, were:
• Increase achievement for all students at all levels
• Attract and retain quality faculty and staff
• Provide optimum technology for teaching and learning
• Make fiscally sound decisions to provide an optimal learning environment for all.
Another document outlines the objectives for “student exit outcomes,” or what students should know or be able to do when they graduate, such as “exhibit mastery of essential skills in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and sciences.”
Popp said goal setting is an ongoing board task and Monday’s workshop was the first step in revisiting that responsibility throughout the year.