President hopes to establish specific goals for Mehlville
By MIKE ANTHONY
Mehlville Board of Education President Cindy Christo-pher hopes to establish some specific goals for the school board during an upcoming retreat.
The Board of Education will conduct its annual retreat Friday, May 30, and Saturday, May 31, at a location yet to be determined, possibly Forder Elementary School. Board members agreed on the dates for the retreat during their regular meeting last week.
Christopher told the Call that she recently met with retiring Superintendent John Cary and South Area Superinten-dent Tim Ricker to discuss potential topics for the board to consider during the retreat. Upon Cary's retirement June 30, Ricker will become superintendent of schools.
"One of the things that the board hasn't done since I've been on the board is actually have specific board goals,'' Christopher said, noting that the board has two new members elected just last month — Michael Heins and William "Bill'' Schornheuser Jr.
"There are a lot of things that informationally you need to learn as a board member and so we've never done, for in-stance, like a mentor type of a program where you would mentor with one other board member type of a thing,'' the board president said. "So maybe that would be an example of a board goal, that we would provide some kind of mentoring system or process within our group to be able to help new board members with information that they need because I know sometimes it's really confusing when you start.
"There's so many laws, even procedural things that you have to learn. We would provide that amongst ourselves,'' Christo-pher said.
Another issue Christopher, Cary and Ricker discussed was how board goals should relate to the goals in the district's board-approved Comprehensive School Im-provement Plan, a requirement of the Mis-souri School Improvement Program.
"And we've done some of that before, but I'm not sure that we've done it to the level that is as effective as it could be — if we could do maybe a better job of kind of getting into depth about some of that and explaining it a little bit more,'' she said.
Goals outlined in the district's CSIP in-clude: Continue to improve in student performance, continue to improve community collaboration, and continue to improve financial responsibility.
The Missouri School Improvement Pro-gram is designed to promote excellence in the state's public schools by ensuring those schools meet certain basic standards and continue to strive for excellence in an increasingly competitive world.
Public school districts undergo MSIP evaluations every five years to earn their accreditation classification based on three sets of standards — resource standards, process standards and performance standards.
To earn full accreditation, a school district must receive 106 of a possible 149 points. In its recent evaluation, the Mehlville School District received 148 points.
Before an on-site visit by the MSIP field team, which took place in January, the Mehlville School District already had earned 100 points by achieving a perfect score on its annual performance report and receiving the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Distinction in Performance Award.
Given that, the Mehlville School District obviously is doing something right and Christopher said she also wants board members to focus on the district's successes during the retreat.
"I also want to take some time and re-view what we've done right because I think we've done a lot of things right and not just this year, but I think we've done a lot of things right in the last several years,'' Christopher said. "And kind of go through that and how that's affected the district and how, from the board's standpoint, we can provide direction to continue to make those kinds of decisions.''
In addition, Christopher wants the board to discuss "any of the areas that we think still need shoring up — if there's something that we still need to work on. I mean I'm a strong believer that it's always got to get better. No matter how good it is, if you're not continuing on to improvement over wherever you are, then you're going to get passed by by the guy who is continuing to do that. So I think from a district standpoint we need to always look at things that we can do better and pick out the ones that need the most work and start there and just continue to move on.
"So those are the kinds of things we've talked about and we don't have a solid agenda yet, but we're kind of working through some of those things and then as they relate to specific areas of the district like curriculum or finance or student services,'' she said.
In other business during the April 28 meeting, the Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt ninth- and 10th-grade Communication Arts textbooks and to adopt Family and Consumer Science textbooks for Mehlville and Oakville senior highs.
The ninth- and 10th-grade Communica-tions Arts textbooks currently used are different at the two high schools. With the board's action, the same textbooks will be used at both high schools and will help meet the district's communication arts curriculum objectives and the new state grade-level objectives.
The total cost of the Holt Reinhart and Winston Elements of Literature is about $150,000. The company is providing 40 teacher resource packages that include technology, assessment and a library of various novels of the district's choice.
The cost of the Family and Consumer Science textbooks, being purchased from several publishers, is $42,331.70 and in-cludes updated copyright materials needed to support new curriculum adopted in 2001. Both high schools now will have identical textbooks.