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School board sets goals for year at retreat

Rowan-Salisbury Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said that many school districts call board retreats to deal with issues with how the board interacts amongst themselves and with the district – but that wasn’t the case with the Rowan-Salisbury board retreat Friday.

“Most of the topics on our agenda today were topics about how we can be proactive,” Moody said, adding the board is working collaboratively.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education plans to spend the next year focusing on safety, long range facility goals and facilitating the district’s strategic plan over the next year, but that was only one of many conversations the board had Friday.

“We got a lot of planning done rather than just having to focus on an individual task for that day,” said Chairman Josh Wagner, adding that the relaxed environment gave everyone the opportunity to speak and to feel comfortable.

They received more input in the retreat environment, he said.

“During board meetings, typically the board’s agenda items are on specific issues that may need immediate attention. Today was different,” Moody said. “It gave the board an opportunity to talk about direction and vision.”

The board set goals and discussed how board meetings should run.

The board decided to create written, measurable goals that can be posted on the district’s website so board members can hold each other accountable while the community holds the board accountable.

The board’s first goal – stressed by board member Chuck Hughes – is safety.

Vice Chair Dean Hunter said he was concerned with the lack of money set aside for safety repairs.

Board member Travis Allen is championing the district’s long-term facility needs goal.

Wagner said the district realistically needs $70 million in order to build the facilities and make the repairs needed for the school system.

“It almost seems like a mountain we can’t climb,” Allen said.

“If you keep piecemealing that out year over year over year, you keep accumulating needs,” Hughes added.

Board member Susan Cox will develop the board’s goal of facilitating the district’s strategic plan and focus on literacy.

The board will clarify and develop these goals further at its February work session.

The board expressed a desire to limit its time in closed session Friday as well.

“You don’t want to go into closed session unless you absolutely have to, and you want to stay in there for the shortest amount of time possible,” Moody said to the board.

Although some issues, including property, can be included in closed session, the board decided to discuss it in open session unless there was a legitimate reason to discuss it behind closed doors.

Work sessions will continue to begin at 4 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, while business meetings will continue to start at 5 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month.

Board members considered moving work sessions back to 5 p.m. to encourage community participation, but after discussion decided to leave them at 4 p.m. as they expect the meetings to get longer as the board continues to update policies.

The board also decided not to vote on agenda items during its work sessions.

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