Last month, the Warren County School District board of directors held a meeting to establish goals for the next year.
The product of that session was presented publicly at Monday night's board meeting.
"It was a very productive meeting," Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel said of the private brainstorming session held on Sept. 12. "This meeting, for the most part, we were talking about construction and how are going to provide the curriculum for our children."
He pointed out that it was a welcome change given that facilities discussions dominated last year's meeting. He highlighted some of the proposals that the district is looking to take on in the next year.
One big financial change is switching to a zero-based budget where each program is funded in accordance with what its needs are, not based on the amount of money received in previous years.
On the district's construction projects, Hufnagel said, "We're going to do monthly updates on the construction projects to the board." He explained that the facilities goal includes more than just the Sheffield, Eisenhower and Beaty-Warren Middle School projects that are currently underway, extending to renovations at Warren Area High School and Youngsville High School. He noted that, when completed, all the district's buildings would have been renovated in the last 15 years "and that is a good thing."
Hufnagel also said the district will look to develop a social media presence. "People laugh, but a lot of people use things on Twitter," he said. "Maybe it's time for the district to have its own Facebook page. (It would) be quick and easy for us to do that." He also noted that it would be an effective way to share information, given the number of people who are active on Facebook.
But Hufnagel recognized that those resources aren't in the hands of all.
"We know that not everybody has access to a computer," he said. "We would like to create something in our buildings where parents can go" to utilize those resources.
One area for improvement that he sees is in the area of curriculum, instructional delivery and assessment.
"I was quite disappointed on this goal last year," he said. Noting that state and federal standards are constantly changing, Hufnagel said, "Our curriculum needs to constantly evolve with it."
One of the hindrances in that area is that the district does "not have a progress monitoring tool to evaluate how our students are doing," Hufnagel said. He explained that 4Sight tests and Dibel exams provide valuable information but not in the depth and frequency that a progress monitoring tool would provide.
"One of the things that we are faced with is the lack of resources within the Warren County area to support our students," he said. "We need to find ways to address those issues within the school district."
Board President Arthur Stewart said that the board is not required to prepare goals, but follows the recommendation of the Pennsylvania School Board Association, adapting the process to include district administration.
Indicating that Monday was the first time the board had seen the proposed goals, Stewart said, "It was a very rewarding process."
In past years, he said, the board spent time discussing the issue of public trust and noted that there was no focus on that this year. "I think this is a remarkable gateway to discuss education," Stewart said. "A rewarding experience."
The board unanimously approved the goals as presented.