First reading of district goals yields questions; special education discussed
The first reading of the 2013-14 Darien district goals and objectives took place at the Tuesday, July 30, Board of Education meeting, where suggestions and critiques were offered in order to produce a more comprehensive final document.
The goals are broken into five categories: Teaching and learning; human resources in the school community; special district initiatives; district management and physical environment.
The final goals and objectives will be approved at a future Board of Education meeting.
Goals involved in teaching and learning outline how the school district can maximize a learner-centered teaching environment.
"The Common Core will be fused into what we do," Superintendent Stephen Falcone said. The Common Core State Standards are a new teaching model that has been adopted by nearly all the United States. It will focus on a learner-centered learning environment and will also incorporate new standardized tests. "Our goal as we move forward is to make sure our curriculum documents not only reflect what we do in the classroom, but also reflect how we use the Common Core State Standards."
One of the objectives within the human resources section addresses the special education department. In accordance with complying with the state Department of Education investigation findings, the district also intends to review and refine special education documents, develop improved systems of communication, and examine the "best practices" within Planning and Placement Team meeting and Individualized Education Plan implementation.
"There's a lot of work to do and a lot of questions have already been posed," Falcone said. "I'm sure there will be more in the future. We hope this provides a road map."
Falcone said part of the objectives is to clarify and develop better materials and documents.
"We've already begun on that road," Falcone said. "It's not a one and done."
Conversation surrounding the special education objectives dominated the first look of the goals and objectives.
Clara Sartori, board vice chairman, said that perhaps the board should consider performing a special education review at a separate time that doesn't tie in with the budget review.
Falcone also announced while discussing district management goals that the district intends to switch to a new school messenger system and move away from Ed Alert. The new system will be linked through the Aspen school system.
"Ed Alert, while good and free, pushes information out over a period of time, like 45 minutes," Falcone said. "If it were a real emergency, 45 minutes isn't going to cut it."
Board member Susan Perticone asked that the district conduct a trial run with the new messenger system to know how fast families are receiving the information.
Falcone said the system is already in place at the high school, but that it is the intention to include the other schools.