Archive » December 24, 2008
HIGH SCHOOL BOARD TALKS GOALS, COMMUNICATION
By Leah Etling, Staff Writer
The newly formed Santa Ynez Valley Union High School board talked about how to move forward as a cohesive team at a meeting Dec. 16.
Aided by consultant Rene Townsend, the board went through an exercise in which members spoke about their personal reasons for wanting to be on the board, what they are most proud of within the district and what sort of legacy they want to leave after their terms are complete.
The responses that emerged portrayed a group of board members that are very proud of the students in the school district and who want to set up a framework for the district’s long term success.
However, they know they’ll face a challenge with upcoming budget cuts.
Board members Chris Burtness, Holly Lindberg, Jeffrey Little, Jack Mochnick and Bruce Porter, as well as Superintendent Paul Turnbull, participated in the discussion.
Townsend, a former district superintendent, urged them to put students first.
“The adults have to do whatever they can to work well together to be as effective as possible on behalf of kids,” Townsend said.
“You’ve come through a difficult election, and working together is going to take a little bit of time and trust.”
All of the board members and the superintendent positively spoke about student achievement.
Several mentioned the need to target students who might not be high achievers but are just getting by academically for extra help and development.
The wide range of programs available to students at the high school, including job training, electives, technology classes and equipment, the ag program, clubs, and sports, were mentioned as being a point of pride.
They also talked about personal connections that encouraged them to join the board. Burtness was a teacher at the high school for 32 years. Lindberg has had 20 family members graduate from the high school. The other board members are all parents of school-age children.
Turnbull said that the district’s reputation of excellence was one factor in encouraging him to apply for the superintendent job.
“The more I asked questions about this place, the more obvious it became that it would be dumb not to be here, or at least try,” he said.
When it comes to leaving a legacy, the board discussed how it can best communicate without generating controversy.
“When we’re in closed session, I don’t want to have the TV station parked out in the circle. That’s a bad legacy,” Little said.
They talked about the idea about having town hall meetings on difficult subjects, such as budget cuts. Such a meeting will be held Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. in the district board room, in the high school administration building.
Townsend encouraged the board to share as much information as it can, with each other and with the community, without violating any privacy regulations.
“There are some things that you wish you could tell people, but you can’t, because it’s somebody else’s professional life or an issue that could come back as a legal matter before the board,” Townsend said.
After sharing their thoughts, the group went over a list of guidelines for effective board-superintendent relationships, which include things like communication, an understanding of the decision making process, and regular evaluation of both the board and superintendent. They also reviewed the district’s bylaws for operating procedures of both the board and superintendent.
For more information or to contact the board, visit www.syvuhsd.org.
Reach Leah Etling at email@example.com.