State College School District officials outline 2014 improvement goals

Though basic operations at State College Area High School have been overshadowed by the high school project, district officials have compiled a list of goals to improve the school district on a day-to-day basis in 2014.

Superintendent Bob O’Donnell presented the list, which includes implementation across a wide spectrum, to the school board of directors as an information item at its meeting Monday.

The goals include improving safety of students and staff; improving student learning and achievement; maximizing resources to support student learning through district programs; improving community member understanding of district planning, programming and initiatives; developing State High project plans and obtaining community permission through the voter referendum; increasing the percentage of families who choose State College Area School District schools; and developing and implementing the baseline year of the district’s new strategic plan.

Safety has been a noted topic and measured highly on the district’s high school project survey as one of the most important features when it comes to a new school.

Board member David Hutchinson said students could be a key resource when determining the relative safety of the school because they are there every day and see positives and negatives.

“Rather than us trying to impose something on them, I think they can be very helpful in this,” he said.

A challenging component will be maximizing resources because they are not unlimited and not every project or idea can be funded, O’Donnell said.

He added that the staff is the most valuable resource and its allocation will go a long way toward determining how everything is distributed, and the board must be prudent with the available finances.

“When resources aren’t growing at the pace that we all prefer, ‘no’ has to be involved in the conversation, and that’s a challenge,” he said.

Some board members also requested more information from the administration to track student participation in extracurricular activities district-wide and finding out the reasons why some students are not more involved.

Board member Scott Fozard added that there are more district improvements than the seven goals, and numerous components go into each one. Just because a goal that parents or residents think is important doesn’t show up on the list, doesn’t mean that it won’t be addressed, but the administration has chosen these as a focal point, he said.