District outlines 2009-10 goals

Senior Kaycie Miltenberger fills out a ballot for a mock election last year at Pendleton High School.<br><I>File photo

With less than a week until the start of the school year, the Pendleton School Board pored over three main goals during a special meeting Monday, plus ways to make them happen in 2009-10.

The discussion centered around three main objectives:?communication; curriculum, instruction and assessment; and organization of resources - specifically, making the most of a shortened school year.

On the first topic, board members joined a handful of school-level administrators in brainstorming ways to reach out to the public. Some have already been implemented:?The district launched Twitter and Facebook accounts earlier this year.

Much of the discussion involved the school district's Web site, and improving ways to get information to the community. That includes reaching out to parents, said Superintendent Jon Peterson.

"I think that's a key thing,"?he said.

But for all the electronic modes of communication, board member Chuck Jenson noted the district needs to maintain the "personal touch"?needed for those without Internet access, or those who simply need the extra attention to have success in the district.

Peterson agreed.

"Face-to-face contact is the most important thing, and we have to make sure we don't lose sight of that,"?Peterson said. "That is still the preferred method of communication, and the most powerful."

Next on the list was curriculum, instruction and assessment. But the district already has taken measures in recent years to evaluate those areas; much of Monday's conversation focused on ways to expand those.

Pendleton teachers now use "Professional Learning Communities,"?or groups of teachers who gather to discuss student achievement, what works and what doesn't work. The 2009-10 goal calls for staff to devote at least two hours per month to PLC groups. Peterson said that's only the minimum, and would be happy to see that expand if possible.

The district also develops its own "power standards" on school assessments in certain subjects - a practice that will continue this school year.

The last topic of the meeting might be one of the district's biggest challenges in this budget-crunched year:?fitting a full year's instruction into 10 fewer days. Those days were slashed as part of $4.1 million in budget cuts made last spring.

That could call for some new priorities, said board member David Krumbein. He suggested taking a second look at things like assemblies, which take kids away from class time. Peterson also noted a swimming trip younger students typically take at the end of each school year. The possibility of reducing recess time even came up.

"Maybe it's time to make some major changes,"?Krumbein said.

But those decisions, Peterson said, are likely to be made by individual schools.

The three preliminary goals were drawn up by a group including district-level and school-level staff. Administrators plan to finalize those objectives, then report back to the board in October on their progress to that point.

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