Board strategic plan focuses on communication

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

As the Clovis Municipal Schools Board of Education worked on its strategic plan Tuesday night, the focus was on communication.

The board spent roughly 90 minutes in a study session on the plan, which sets forth the district’s beliefs, mission statement, objectives and strategies.

Deputy Superintendent Ladona Clayton guided board members through the strategic plan’s five strategies during the study session.

• Development and implementation of programs and opportunities to engage families in education and character development.

Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said she would like to use money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, among other things, to create a parent center at Cameo Elementary for a trial period of up to two years.

• Improvement of communication to all stakeholders in the education process.

Board member Max Best said the board needed communication improvements on two different fronts.

First, he addressed external communication, and how it would help the district to have a public information employee to talk about the work being done by the schools. Best said some of the best news doesn’t get out because the people responsible are too busy doing the tasks worth mentioning.

“In a lot of situations, you see public education losing the P.R. battle,” Best said. “In a sense, we’ve got to operate like we’re in a battle to get our message out.”

Seidenwurm said that aspect could be covered with stimulus funds and done with little risk.

“If it’s not working” when stimulus funds run out, Seidenwurm said, “we don’t have to fund it again. If it does, we’ll make it a priority.”

Best also said a text-messaging alert system would be handy to avoid a repeat of the “burrito incident.” In 2005, Marshall Junior High student Michael Morrissey gained national attention when a burrito he cooked for a school project was mistaken for a gun, and a school lockdown ensued. Instant text message alerts could have alleviated parental fears quickly in such an instance, Best said.

• Equipping teachers with knowledge and skills relative to the core curriculum.

Clayton said the strategic plan addresses Web-based resources, data analysis and the need to teach more classes in the realms of math and science.

Best said the school should also look to partnerships with companies who give grants for science programs.

• Improve partnerships with families, and ensure academic guidance and health/wellness.

Clayton said there was a unified voice in the 25-member planning committee regarding improvements to health and wellness, particularly to put a school nurse on every campus.

The district has nine nurses, and Clayton said one registered nurse at each campus, or one between neighboring schools, can make a huge difference for students.

“Diabetes can be serious, and there have been asthma attacks (and seizures),” she said. “We need immediate decisions.”

• Continued commitment to the six pillars of character as outlined in the “Character Counts” program.

The board will vote for approval during the April 28 board meeting.