School Board Wrap-Up

The following is from the Oct.26 meeting of the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education.

Strategic plan approved

Supt. Sherine Smith presented the District Strategic Plan to the Board of Education for discussion, input and approval, and reviewed the District's Vision, Mission, Core Values and Strategic Goals, which were developed jointly with the Board at the Governance Team Workshop earlier this year. After a two-hour presentation, the Board voted unanimously to approve the District Strategic Goals.

Her responsibility to the District, she said, will be to create and support systems that align with these goals and result in measurable student achievement, which she will monitor and report on over time to ensure they are working.

Asst. Supt. of Instructional Services, Nancy Hubbell, thanked the department directors and managers who participated in the development of the SMART Leadership

Team Goals, which stand for Strategic and specific and aligned with District Goals; Measureable through fidelity rubrics, occurrence of specific events, as well as national, state, and local testing; Achievable; Results oriented, with specific Action Steps; and Time bound.

The District staff is "justifiably proud" of their past achievements, she said, and the Leadership Goals will build upon these successes as it moves forward in manageable steps to improve areas of focus.

Goals will integrate fidelity to adopted programs and models; completion or expansion of initiatives that are working such as Success Maker and REACH; addition of other programs including Rachel's Challenge, Business and University Partnerships and College and Career Readiness.

Norma Shelton, Asst. Supt. of Business Services, presented the learning environment and fiscal responsibility components, which support the educational goals of the District.

School culture and goals

Each school site principal presented the Board with practical examples of the action steps to achieve the District's goals in the areas of academic achievement and school culture.

Principals Chris Duddy and Ron LaMotte announced that the focuses at Top of the World and El Morro Elementary Schools will be site level exploration of best practices and latest research related to reading comprehension–assessment, instructional strategies in math and "college readiness" at the elementary level, which emphasizes collaborative relationships between students, critical thinking and problem solving. They will continue to enforce positive behavior and social responsibility through practices that aid character development, social and emotional competence and bullying prevention.

Thurston Middle Principal Joanne Culverhouse said the progress of math and science students will continue to be monitored through SuccessMaker. Language Arts teachers will focus on writing strategies, conventions and applications to strengthen writing skills. Additionally, academic and special education math, as well as ELA support classes will be offered. Thurston, too, will continue fidelity to the SMART program and deliver consistent messages to students to support its objectives, and will explore college and career readiness at the middle school level.

Laguna Beach High will focus on Algebra 1 proficiency, align curriculum and measure college readiness, help students to decide between SAT and ACT testing, and monitor on-track graduation points and provide support, Principal Don Austin said. Socially, the school will work to improve student attendance and to connect students with future careers.

Smith concluded the presentation by outlining the methods in place to monitor, guide and evaluate the District Strategic Goals. The Board will receive regular reports on the District's progress.

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