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Allentown School District Board lays out goals

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 24 2013 08:47:39 PM CDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

After months of writing headlines about staggering tax hikes, massive teacher layoffs and an evaporating fund balance the Allentown School District Board of Directors turned the page Wednesday night and discussed a future that promises a quality education for each and every child.

By its nature, the future is optimistic. And an Ad Hoc Committee-of-the-Whole voted 6-0 to move five distinctive goals for implementation by the district for the next five years to Thursday night’s meeting for final passage.

A term used more than once during the discussion to describe the goals was “balanced.”

“We don’t want to be lopsided in our approach,” said ASD Superintendent C. Russell Mayo. The superintendent added that "five goals is the max" of what a district can successfully implement, as opposed to 10 or 12, he said.

The five goals are diverse yet focused, and were developed by Mayo’s administration after review of strategic plans, grant applications and information from various stakeholders and of course, the board of directors.

Goal 1:  Pathways to Success - Perhaps the most succinct of the five noting that “ALL students will gain skills necessary for college or career readiness, including leadership and collaborative skills, positive work attitudes, analytical skills and creativity.”

Goal 2: Balanced Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment – That word “balance” is noted in that ASD will provide each student a liberal arts curriculum that is “focused on developing the whole child.”

Goal 3: Safety Nets – To make sure no ASD falls through the proverbial cracks, the district will consistently and promptly address any “barrier to student learning.”

Goal 4: Community Engagement – ASD will “engage the community in supporting the academic growth, physical and social development and career readiness of all students.”

Goal 5: Student-Centered Decision Making – This is about developing the entire academic experience of the child. “Test scores of course are one aspect of that,” noted Mayo during the meeting. But the focus here is providing the students a vast network of district staff  to meet the “academic, social and emotional needs of the whole child.”

One factor which was added in during Wednesday night’s meeting was addition of garnering input from alumni of ASD schools. While Mayo said this has been done in the past, it was specifically added during the session Wednesday night.

“I’m really comfortable with the goals,” said Vice President Debra Lamb. “…I’m kind of excited.”

Director Julie Ambrose noted the goals were "a lot more nebulous" than in previous years.

Directors Joanne Jackson, Scott Armstrong and David Zimmerman were absent.