kids

It goes without saying that figuring out what to do tends to be a heck of a lot easier when one knows what the goal behind said action is. The School Board in Westmoreland County is no exception to this, as shown in their most recent regular meeting. Over the course of the weeks between the July 7th and August meetings, the Board members had cooked up and unanimously adopted a list of goals they wanted the division to accomplish, showing where their priorities lay once the regular meeting on August 16 had rolled around.

Chairman Fallin presented the list of goals and some of the means towards achieving them, starting with the first of these goals: improving the communicating of school activities, events, and accomplishments.

The methods for doing so were listed out in a presentation as well, ranging from increasing community updates such as emails and press releases to visiting local churches and organizations to promote the school system.

The next goal laid out was leveraging community volunteers and partnerships more effectively to address academic gaps. This would involve things such as expanding the tutors and mentors program, establishing an Alumni Association and a Homework Assistance Program, as well as business partnerships and internships. Getting broadband access to all students and staff was another facet of this particular goal, and is one the Board had been hard at work with ever since the mess involving the Coronavirus took off.

Revitalizing the education foundation was the next part on the list. This is to be done by increasing the number of community members on the School Board, increase communication and visibility within the community, and recruit and appoint a President and Officers.

“Having a President and officers is essential to have a successful foundation,” Fallin stated as he continued explaining certain bullet-points in the presentation, “So we will be putting additional effort into that.”

Probably the most important was point 4: monitoring student achievement. This covers learning loss, lack of broadband, lessons learned, and measuring the growth of students. It is actually something the Board does already, but aims to step up due to the complications that arose from the pandemic and the academic troubles that resulted from the sudden shift to virtual learning.

The next goal is to keep an eye on the social and emotional well-being of students and staff, whether it’s through a telehealth program, checking attendance, or through its anti-bullying efforts.

“This is definitely important,” Fallin stated, “Because the pandemic has taken a toll on the social and emotional wellness.”

Finally, the Board aims to support expanding curriculum offerings, such as computer science and engineering, dual enrollment, and advanced placement (AP) courses. There would also be courses for students that had suffered learning loss, as well as solidifying the Career and Technical Education Program, or CTE.

While these goals are laid out, as well as a few sub-goals, Vice Chair Iris Lane chimed in, wondering where the action plan for these goals was.

“We have a number of goals here,” Ms. Lane said, “And I don’t know how we’re going to get them all done, whether they’re yearly or monthly.”

“Of course we’ll have to take action,” replied Fallin, “Because we can’t just have goals. We also have to monitor those goals in terms of how well we’re achieving them, so we have to do both of those. At the time of this meeting, we have not talked about the process of doing that, but we will have to.”