BENNINGTON -- Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union recently approved a new set of goals and is now working to revise its mission statement and motto.
The supervisory union board largely agreed it needs to update the 1988 mission statement, for the most part condensing what is now a page-long mission, and change its "striving for excellence" motto.
Other than the age and length of the mission statement, the school board talked at a meeting last week about the need to make it work for all six districts in the supervisory union and give them a common purpose.
The recently concluded Act 153 study SVSU elementary districts took part in to consider consolidating school districts helped illustrate the need for a more united supervisory union. During the process, independent consultants determined there is a "lack of common purpose and focus of the various school districts" following interviews with principals and supervisory union administrators.
"We need something from the SVSU that we can all get into and support, and from that we can go back to our separate boards and say we need to do this back here in order to do this up here," Larry Johnson, a Shaftsbury representative, said.
Members of the SVSU board suggested they bring the current mission statement back to their respective boards to discuss changes, and they will come to the next SVSU meeting in August with recommendations.
The board did complete revising the supervisory union goals -- consolidating 11 goals into three -- at its meeting last week. The process stemmed from conversations at previous school board meetings between the board and administrators. The new goals are:
* Improve student achievement by inspiring and engaging all students to grow, learn, and progress.
* Develop a culture of inspiration and engagement in which staff, students, parents and the broader community are positively involved in education.
* Develop and foster a culture within the SVSU education community in which behavior and communication are driven by the values of respect, honesty, commitment and openness.
Additionally, the supervisory union is looking to update its motto "striving for excellence." A motion was made last week to replace it with "engaging and inspiring all students every day," although the motion was later withdrawn following agreement to wait until the mission statement is complete and then ensure the motto fits.
Johnson suggested the next motto must be more powerful.
"I would prefer the motto be a little more hard-hitting," he said before referencing the Boy Scouts of America’s motto "be prepared" and Vermont’s motto "freedom and unity." "They’re powerful. I don’t see that (in the proposed motto), and I think it’s important you have that strength in anything you’re going to put out."
Everybody on the board appeared to agree it is time to change the motto that appears on SVSU documents, is painted on signs at the town lines, and can be found throughout the supervisory union.
"It’s been there for eons. It’s 2012 and we need to change it," Cynthia Brownell, of Pownal, said.
Superintendent Catherine McClure said the current motto may be misinterpreted to mean the schools are constantly striving instead of achieving.
"Striving for excellence’ came out of the earlier work, most likely from the continuos improvement philosophy that you’re always able to improve no matter where you are, (but) I think that people who drive into town and see it, who are not in education, think ‘oh, they’re striving. Did they make it? Do they ever make it?’" McClure said. "(In developing the proposed motto) people were trying to get something that would capture people’s vision, that a teacher walking into a classroom, a parent driving into town, would absolutely say ‘that’s important to really be building relationships to engage students and inspire students.’"
Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at firstname.lastname@example.org.