The School Board could have trouble reaching a consensus when members attempt to revise the goals of the former board.
The board met last week to create a preliminary list to be honed at a retreat on Sept. 9 and 10.
School Board Chairman John Andrews tried repeatedly Thursday to persuade his peers to limit the number of goals, but they kept adding to the list. He called for adjournment before the board members had presented all of their ideas. They will have an opportunity to offer additional goals at the retreat.
“We have nine people with nine ideas, and it could go on and on,” Andrews cautioned early on in the meeting.
Later, he warned, “I’m concerned about the length. The list is becoming overly burdensome.”
After about two hours, he expressed further frustration. “Do we need a three- or four-day retreat? You guys have got to be kidding yourselves.”
Mark Nuzzaco (Catoctin) said there was no need to restrict any ideas, because the chairman could set priorities at the retreat.
Andrews countered, “Having 10 percent of these items, it would take two days.”
SCHOOL BOARDS adopt a set of goals each year and subsequent boards revise them to reflect their priorities. This board reviewed the goals at a June retreat, but could not reach accord.
Superintendent of Schools Edgar Hatrick underscored the importance of the goals, saying they affect budget, policy and resource decisions.
The board is considering goals associated with student achievement, curriculum development, compensation, recruitment and retention of staff, growth and resource parity and community relations.
The meeting turned contentious at times as some of the members’ objectives were rejected. Others were sent to committees for study. Final decisions are expected to be made at the retreat.
As in prior board meetings, Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run) recommended a number of ideas that were voted down, but won support for others. For example, board members voted against his goal of monitoring school operating costs so not more than a 10 percent gap is tolerated between districts on a per students basis. They supported moving his proposal for parental involvement in staff evaluations to the retreat for further discussion.
MANY INDIVIDUAL concerns surfaced during the meeting. Sarah Smith (Leesburg), said she wanted to ensure Loudoun sets the proper environment for learning. “To have kids go to school without facing bullying, someone making fun of them, to have an awareness of mutual respect,” she said. “Kids are very, very cruel to each other.
“We need to focus more on that. We will not tolerate that type of behavior.”
Joe Guzman (Sugarland) recommended an increase in the number of advanced-placement classes and participation.
Warren Geurin (Sterling) backed development of additional services and resources to improve achievement among students who cannot speak English or have limited proficiency.
Priscilla Godfrey (Blue Ridge) suggested generating academy/magnet school programs to serve students with special interests and abilities.
Other topics included class size and whether the School Board should intervene when a large number of complaints are lodged against a teacher.
The retreat was to be held at a resort in West Virginia, but several board members asked to cancel that plan and hold it at the School Board meeting room in Leesburg. Ohneiser said they told Andrews that the office was closer to their families, less costly and more conducive to getting business done. Andrews authorized the cancellation.