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One thing all cars have in common is a dashboard of indicators: the speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature, fuel indicator, and odometer. All of these are essential in giving the driver feedback about the car’s performance. Similarly, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has begun to identify what should go on the district’s “dashboard.” What are the essential indicators that we should be continuously monitoring to ensure the district is performing well and that all of our students are receiving the best possible education?
The DCSD Board of Education follows a governance model where the “dashboard” is often referred to as “End Statements” or “Board Goals.” These statements answer the questions “What is the purpose of Douglas County Schools?” or “Why does Douglas County Schools exist?” End Statements are different from the district’s vision or mission in that they describe the intended results of our organization’s efforts. Whereas, the mission and vision describe a preferred future (the vision) and how to achieve it (the mission). End Statements are more specific in defining what will be continuously monitored, and provides our superintendent a clear direction for moving the organization forward.
Since November, our board has engaged in the challenging work of defining this “dashboard” of End/Goal Statements. Through expert training and external consultation, we have identified five categories which we feel are essential to continually monitor. These include: academic excellence, outstanding educators, positive climate and culture, collaborative parents and community relations, and financial well-being. Within each of these categories, further definition will be developed (sometimes referred to as “sub-ends”). The goal of this structure is to provide our superintendent with ample flexibility to exercise his/her leadership expertise, while attaining clarity for what the board values most.
In doing this work with fellow board colleagues, I was impressed with the recurring theme of “benefit to students.” Regardless of the topic we were discussing, the conversation was grounded in the notion of, “How will this positively impact the education of our 68,000 students?” As we further conceptualized where these End Statements fit within the overall organizational structure, it became clear that they all support the success of our students. Similar to a car’s dashboard, if any of these indicators register in the “red zone,” we need to do something immediately to avoid compromising the education of our children.
As we continue this work we are continually cognizant of the multitude of voices that influence our thinking: students, teachers, leaders, support staff, parents, and community members. How wonderful that we have a wealth of conduits through which these sources speak to us: community surveys, staff surveys, school visits, committees, candidate forums, social media, public comment at board meetings, and an engaged constituency that consistently interacts with board directors.
As we continue to define the direction of this amazing district, it is our hope that you continue to share your thoughts, hopes and dreams. For more information about End/Goal Statements, meeting agendas, or director contact information, please visit:
David Ray is the president of the Douglas County School District Board of Education
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