As we have said many times, our vision for the Dallas ISD is to be a premier urban school district. Simply stated, our mission is educating students for success. The Board of Trustees is responsible for governing, and overseeing the management of the district, while promoting the best interests of the district as a whole.
Keeping in mind our vision and mission, as president of the board, I have proposed that trustees look outward as well as within as we focus on improving Dallas ISD. Our Core Beliefs are centered on students, educators, the achievement gap, the learning environment, finance, parents, and community. Our goals call for improved student achievement, developing teachers and other employees, ensuring good financial management, maintaining district facilities, and a safe and secure environment. Based on the vision, mission, core beliefs and goals as our foundation, we can succeed with the cooperation and support of the community.
The Board of Trustees has adopted my proposed plan of action, Focus 2013, which will be the guide we will use to reach our goals. It is not meant to be the ultimate solution, but rather a starting point for the school year; 2012-2013.
Focus 2012 is based on guiding principles and strategies. The BOARD principles are Building Opportunities for Achievement through Relationships and Determination. The strategies are from the Six Pillars of Dynamic Schools as expressed by authors Steven W. Edwards and Paul E. Chapman:
- Communication & Relationships
- Leadership & Empowerment
- Planning & Evaluation
- Collaboration & Partnership
- Accountability & Responsibility
- Consistency & Repetition
Dallas ISD cannot become a premier urban school district without the cooperation and collaboration of many others. It is only when service organizations join with those they serve that we can build the kind of community support necessary to build the village students need to succeed. Based on this premise, I am asking that the trustees and district leadership invite more people, groups, and entities to collaborate with us to improve our schools.
Listening and Learning
Trustees make decisions each month that have a great impact on students, employees, parents, and the community at large. Many of these decisions could be more effective if we engaged in more dialogue with the people who will be affected. Focus 2013 provides two rather simple approaches to make this happen: Dialogue and Dinner, and Listen and Learn.
- Dialogue and Dinner would bring 10-12 concerned citizens together monthly with top-level district decision-makers at the dinner table to share information about the district and to discuss ways to build stronger schools. The dinners would be hosted quarterly in private homes or restaurants with each dinner attended by guests of diverse backgrounds. A top-level administrator and trustee would attend each dinner to listen and learn and share information with the participants.
- Listen and Learn would be an opportunity for students, employees, parents, and community members to learn about district programs, discuss their concerns about Dallas ISD, and express ideas for improvement. Top-level administrators and a trustee would attend quarterly meetings to listen and learn from the participants.
We experienced significant results from the work of the Citizens Budget Review Commission whose members were appointed by trustees and the superintendent. Focus 2013 will build on this concept by engaging citizens to help address our goals. The intent is to have community members, experts in teaching and learning, and District staff collaborate to learn about our district’s many program offerings, analyze our programs and operations, and offer suggestions for improvement.
- The Blue Ribbon Education Commission will focus on curriculum and instruction, student achievement and development, student activities, school leadership and operations, and parent/community involvement.
- The Star Employee Commission will focus on employee practices, procedures, and performance, assessment, professional development, and morale.
- The Community Relations Commission will focus on educational philosophy, community involvement, accountability, and public relations.
- The Financial Stewardship Commission will focus on fiscal management, business operations, food service, technology, facilities, the bond program, transportation, and real estate.
Trustees and the superintendent will each appoint one member to each of these commissions. The Chief Officers and Assistant Superintendent will work with the commissions, along with a trustee serving a liaison to the board.
As we focus on our vision of becoming a premier urban school district with a mission of educating students for success, we need to enhance our partnerships with other entities. As part of Focus 2013, partnership initiatives will work to develop and enhance working relationships with the goal of involving individuals, higher education, nonprofits and governmental agencies to help ensure student academic success.
- The Intergovernmental Partnership Initiative will include congressional, state, county, and city elected officials that represent portions of Dallas ISD.
- The Higher Education Partnership Initiative will include area colleges and universities such as Dallas County Community College District, Paul Quinn College, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Southern Methodist University, University of Dallas, University of North Texas at Dallas, University of North Texas at Denton, and University of Texas at Dallas.
- The Partners Interested in Education Initiative will include businesses, organizations, chambers, community, faith-based groups, parents, teachers, and students.
Focus 2013 is meant to be a guide for Dallas ISD trustees and its senior leadership to more actively engage the communities we serve in our efforts to improve our schools because I think we would all agree that as Dallas ISD and our children go, so goes our city. Working together as a community that cares, we can make Dallas ISD a premier urban school district that educates students for success.
For Additional Information, Contact: Dallas ISD Board of Trustees President, Lew Blackburn, Ph.D.; email@example.com; 972-925-3720