Public trust and confidence, inclusion and financial stability were some of the talking points for Glendale Unified school board members as they start to look at what will be priorities for the upcoming school year.
The board met last month to discuss and narrow the district’s focus as it nears the first day of school, set for Aug. 21, and board members will meet again on Tuesday for further discussion.
“Each year, as part of the overall planning process, the board of education establishes priorities that identify major focus areas for the district,” new district Supt. Vivian Ekchian said.
Board priorities give guidance to district staff members, led by Ekchian, who then develop goals and processes to accomplish those objectives.
Last year, the board established four umbrella priorities, with several subgroups or so-called strands under each goal.
Those priorities were to maximize student achievement, create a culture of learning, increase engagement and maintain district solvency and financial responsibility.
“Generally, what I say about the priorities is I think that they’re good ones,” board member Nayiri Nahabedian said. “I wonder about what my colleagues would think about keeping them as they are and picking some strands to look at in terms of evaluating ourselves.”
“In the community, there has been a lot of lack of trust that happened this past year,” he said. “How do we rebuild that trust?”
Board member Shant Sahakian, who admitted a racism problem existed at Hoover in November, said too many students felt excluded.
“One of the biggest priorities we need to decide on is inclusion and wellness,” Sahakian said, “[which is] everything from the by-products of students being successful in the classroom to students not leaving the school district because they don’t feel welcome.”
Vice president Armina Gharpetian spoke about inclusion, but for parents.
“What we’ve done with parent engagement, I mean I see it here, but it’s mostly a targeted group of parents,” she said.
Gharpetian further asked, “As a district, what are we doing overall to increase engagement and include parents to all our programs, not specific programs?”
Financial stability was also important for board members in the wake of the district cutting millions of dollars from its budget to close a deficit this summer.
“We need things like safety and solvency and things that have been there, but what we really [want] if I’m reading our room, reading us correctly, is that idea of inclusivity and public trust are the overarching pieces for this coming year,” board president Jennifer Freemon said.
Board members also highlighted some of Glendale Unified’s successes last year, including approving Roosevelt Middle School’s conversion to a STEAM magnet school, under the category to maximize student achievement, transforming a classroom into a professional art gallery at Hoover High, under the category to create a culture of learning, and holding a college and career fair under the category to increase engagement.
“We have some awesome programs in our district from our foreign-language academies, our coding, our animation,” Krikorian said. “Let’s start showcasing our gems that we have.”