PE Schools Eye Vision

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, September 13, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – Vision, mission and goals are part of the big picture for anyone wishing to succeed. Prince Edward County's school board, in the process of developing their own big picture in the form of a comprehensive long-range plan, met in a work session earlier this month with representatives from the Virginia Association of School Superintendents aimed to do just that.

While school board members have yet to nail down a final plan (which could come as early as the school board's September 15 retreat), the board did hash through the wording of previous goals and drafted six that could serve into 2017:

*Improve academic opportunities and achievement for all students while closing the achievement gap.

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*Strengthen home, school, business and community engagement to advance staff and student achievement.

*Ensure that schools are safe, orderly, nurturing, and supportive of quality teaching.

*Promote a positive, healthy, and inviting school culture conducive to learning.

*Optimize effective use and management of operational resources that support teaching and learning.

*Hire, support and retain highly qualified teachers and staff.

School board members will head up the six committees that will consist of two community members (including one parent), an administrative staff member and two faculty members to work on the specifics of each of the goals.

The school board also worked on developing its vision and a mission statement.

The words of the vision, much like the goals, have yet to be finalized. Board members discussed and debated over whether to use such phrases as high performing (which was chosen) or excellence before working out the draft.

The draft vision states: “PECPS (Prince Edward County Public Schools) will be high performing schools of choice that prepare a diverse population to be responsible and productive citizens.”

Also as drafted, the proposed mission states: “Prince Edward County Public School Division's mission is to enable each student to achieve his or her full intellectual, personal and vocational potential.”

Survey Findings

VASS, as part of the process, gathered input by holding interviews with the school board, staff in the central office and schools, as well as three forums for community input.

Among the findings: the top-ranked perceived strengths – there is a committed and dedicated staff, there are excellent programs and instruction, and excellent resources – especially for a small, rural area.

It was noted that an average of 77 percent of the climate survey respondents across the three schools believe their school maintains high expectations for student achievement; 81 percent believe their school is committed to helping every student learn; 69 percent believe their school maintains a focus on improving student learning that permeates all levels of the school; and 59 percent of parents taking the parent inventory across the schools say their child's school has high expectations for students across all classes.

What needs to improve (determined from interviews) included: communications, instructional/learning opportunities and deepening of community/parent involvement and partnerships. They also highlighted, cited (from climate surveys), the issue of institutional environment-schools need a better process for making group decisions and solving problems; and safety-there's a perception of too much bullying and some inconsistency in implementing discipline policies.

Also, what parents least like about the schools was that some teachers don't go the extra mile, perceived discipline/bullying issues and that there is not strict enough discipline.