4-year term No Salary, some districts offer small per diem for evening meetings. School Board Members or “directors” – are the elected governing body of the school district, serving four-year terms. The school board’s governance responsibilities fall in four major areas: Vision – focuses the work on student achievement through a comprehensive strategic planning process; Structure – provides prudent financial planning and oversight; diligent and innovative policymaking; Accountability – sets specific goals and a process for evaluation, reporting and recommendations for improvements; and Advocacy – champions public education in the local community and before state and federal policy makers. The School Board sets the general policies of the district, which are implemented by the hired professional district Superintendent and certificated teaching staff and personnel. One of the critical duties is the adoption of the district's budget and proposal of any school levies to be placed on the ballot to the people. The commission sets policies and approves all spending via the budget. The council also sets salaries for district employees.
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My husband and I had three children graduate from a K-12 education in the Mead School District. Two graduated from Mead HS and our son graduated from Mt. Spokane HS. I served on four bond/levy committees, served on Learning Improvement teams, Booster Club , Facilities Planning among others.
The three major issues facing our district 1) GROWTH, 2) pushing the entire community to be move out of a complacent “we are the best” attitude, and 3) meeting the needs of every student.
Foremost we face a critical growth issue. Our county has been very development friendly without regard to impact on schools. Specifically the growth of multi-family housing has taxed our elementary schools. 350+ student growth in the past year is significant! Parents are frustrated when their children can’t attend their neighborhood school. Legislated and voter initiated changes (all day K, class size reduction) finally pushed us over the limit.
We will be presenting a bond in February to add two additional schools in our district. In the interim, we continue to utilize space in both a creative and economical way and ask the community for patience until we can complete our building plan.
This issue is directly related to issue #2 above. I personally sit in the middle on this topic. Sometimes I say let's open it up - I'm not afraid of competition with our schools - it will push us to be better. But ultimately what I know is our infrastructure in public schools is fairly fixed. I've read a lot about this, listened to experts on both sides of this topic, but if we dilute funding in public schools with fixed expenses, we ultimately hurt public education, which is where most students in this country are educated.
I believe we aren't asking the right questions and also how specifically charter schools are the answer? Are we so indoctrinated in our approach to public education that we lose innovation in the possibilities to operate as a public school system? I believe we can do better. I believe we are having those conversations in Mead and I'm excited about the opportunity to work harder to meet every student's educational needs.
We need to have a common denominator to measure what we are doing. It holds districts accountable to achievement and also provides feedback for improvement or to point to where there are learning gaps for specific students and/or populations of students. It's pretty difficult to improve what you can't measure.
That said, I think testing has been over done. Often the most important learning a student achieves can't be measured. I would like to see us stick with a test for a period of time. We seem to move on to new tests with some frequency - which is extremely expensive! The publishing companies profit from these changes - both testing and then in curriculum to help schools achieve to the test.
If we were following the child's natural tendencies, clearly elementary school would start earlier than secondary schools. However - we have so uncultured extra-curricular activities in secondary schools to essentially keep us in the current school schedules. As a side note - my teenagers would have slept until noon every day if they could. At what point do we train our young people that our society operates on a daily work schedule which primarily begins at 8 am? Perhaps we need to better look at the extra-curricular end times and homework loads so that getting to bed earlier and getting sufficient sleep is possible. As a parent I know I could have been better at managing end of day activities to ensure my child could get enough sleep (manage electronic devices, tv, video games, etc).
For most students not graduating in four years, we are often dealing with outside of school social complications. Ultimately early academic identification and interventions, mandatory summer school, increased high school counseling staff with smaller student assignments, and most importantly student engagement! These students often have complicated home situations which require more intensive relationship building in the schools to keep them connected. Schools must change the culture from student learning as the student's responsibility to student learning and accountability to everyone's responsibility. We know the part of the brain for judgement isn't fully developed until a person is in their 20's. Surely a teenager doesn't have the judgement to understand the consequences of insufficient academic performance. It is our job to find ways to engage students by identifying areas of interest and then providing learning environments which support them.
In the school building we have a no bullying policy when staff are aware of it. Students need to have ways to report anonymously to prevent retribution. Education to our entire student population from the very beginning needs to be focused on what is appropriate and what is not tolerated with consistent consequences. Social media has certainly elevated the level of bullying to a level that is difficult for schools to manage except to respond when they are aware and bring in parents to help partner in efforts to end this behavior.
Our schools already meet this requirement. Comprehensive Social studies education sequenced K-12 in addition to many activities/speakers/assemblies for Veteran's Day and other important civic holidays. Voter registration and education is driven by student organizations in our high schools. Leadership and student governance is part of every elementary and secondary school building.
I don't believe suspending a student helps change disruptive behavior. We have incorporated PBIS - Positive Behavior Intervention Systems with rooms designated for addressing a student needing to be removed from the classroom for disruptive behavior. These rooms allow the student to work with behavior specialists to change behaviors, while continuing that student's educational needs. I firmly believe in and support this program!