La Cañada school district sets goals

Despite the belief that even the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, La Cañada Unified Supt. Wendy Sinnette still believes in the power of a school district powered by principals and steered by well-planned goals.

On Tuesday, during the superintendent's report portion of a regular school board meeting, Sinnette laid out a few principles intended to improve leadership and guide future goal-setting for the district.

This comes in the wake of LCUSD's approval this summer of a Local Control Accountability Plan, a massive document that outlines how and where the district's state funding will be spent in the next three years.

Creation and implementation of an LCAP is required by the California Department of Education. This year, the district received about $26.5 million from the state, accounting for more than two-thirds of its $39 million budget, according to figures from the finance department.

Since the accountability plan is a road map for prioritizing spending, stakeholders will need to meet again soon to revise and refine it for upcoming school years, Sinnette said Tuesday. Having guidelines to help set goals for the future will make the process easier.

"This is a living document, and it won't be going away," Sinnette said of the LCAP. "I think it's really important we refocus as a community on what those goals are."

She provided an overview of the document's eight primary goals — which include class-size reduction, student engagement and full implementation of the new Common Core standards, made possible by recent technological upgrades.

"Common Core and technology are really fused together, and there's no separating them anymore," Sinnette said. "Our children are digital natives and they're 21st-century learners. We may be digital immigrants, but we need to meet them on the playing field."

The superintendent also introduced leadership norms and expectations that could help teachers and administrators work more effectively with the school community's various stakeholders.

That list emphasized the importance of preparation, leading by example, remaining positive and mindful of the fact that education is ultimately the business of creating better human beings.

"Every person in this district maintains some sort of leadership role," Sinnette said. "If we don't build these (principles) into our goals, we're missing something."

Board Vice President Andrew Blumenfeld asked if the district currently employed a character development curriculum for students, suggesting the leadership expectations might be adopted by a broader audience.

"Those 10 character traits are the sort of things I think most families would want their families to have," Blumenfeld said.

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