MERCED -- For the next school year, Merced Union High School District trustees are focusing on academic excellence, financial stability, public communications and school safety.
The five-member board met at the district office at the Castle Commerce Center for nearly five hours last week and came up with four goals, which will be refined at future trustee sessions.
Board President Ida Johnson thought the goal-setting workshop was productive. She is hoping some future board workshops will zero in on budgeting and facilities.
Johnson said it's difficult for trustees to communicate their feelings during structured board meetings. Less formal goal-setting workshops help board members start communicating together.
"We are trying to work through tough issues," Johnson said, "and we have to prioritize what we spend money on in technology and transportation." She said it's time for the district to compile a new five-year plan.
The top goal is for all students to be provided with a relevant and rigorous instructional program that provides access to college and career readiness.
The second goal calls for the district to maintain a stable long-term financial position, with excess funds devoted to transportation, technology, instructional materials, deferred maintenance, facilities, and employee health and welfare.
Trustee William Snyder III, elected to the board last November, said Thursday's goal-setting workshop was "very progressive and very exciting." He characterized the session as just brainstorming.
"It was helpful and productive," Snyder said, "and got us started on a plan. We're still working on ironing things out to see where we will go. It's kind of premature to make judgments on things at this point."
Superintendent Scott Scambray initiated the board's goal-setting workshops four years ago. He said it is very important for trustees to give staff members direction. These goals then are tailored for each school site in Merced, Atwater and Livingston.
"Without it, it's a guess on what the board wants us to do," Scambray said. "The board represents the people and what's important to them, and we design how to achieve these things."
Trustee Dora Crane, also elected last November, said the goal-setting workshop went well and was productive. She said nothing was finalized from trustee-administrator brainstorming but finishing touches will be made to the recommendations and be brought back for approval.
"I felt very comfortable," Crane said. "I was respected by my colleagues. We may not always agree, but I feel good about moving forward; I think we will be a good team."
Crane said the board's dialogue was very good and the discussion will help them gel as a group.
Johnson said the board will continue to examine transportation issues, what resources can be devoted to technology, along with safety, textbooks and adoption of new Common Core teaching procedures.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.