The board, which met in Gadsden to minimize distractions, agreed that school construction, measuring the progress of a technology project and helping high school students develop career paths should be the school system’s priorities. Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell said the ideas could help the board decide which goals to focus on in the coming months.
“I think the things you will see, at least some of them will flesh out,” Campbell said.
Susan Salter of the Alabama Association of School Boards directed the goal-setting exercise for more than two hours. Much of her discussion centered on how the system can use research and data to make decisions about where a new elementary school will be built, how to help students make career goals and how to track the effect of technology use in the classroom.
“You’ve got to use the data to drive the discussion,” Salter said.
The superintendent said the exercise should help the board.
“We’re doing a lot of these things, but I think that will help us focus,” Campbell said.
After Salter’s discussion, Kitty Stone Elementary School Principal Christy Hamilton and Jacksonville High School Principal Rick Carter met with the board. Hamilton’s discussed the system’s expanding pre-K program, while the board’s conversation with Carter included discussion of personalizing student education with technology.
Before the meeting wrapped up board members discussed the future of Jacksonville City Schools, focusing on the changes they hope to see over the next year.
“I feel that the city school system, the city government and the university are all pushing the wagon in the same way,” said board member Steve Smith. “I hope by next year the community can see it too.”
In recent months the city and the school board have been working together to fund a new elementary school, and possibly a middle school. At the same time the city and Jacksonville State University have been in talks about how they can trade and repurpose historic properties, including the former Union Yarn Mill property.
The board also discussed progress in athletics, band, academics and technology. During the conversation, Campbell also referenced discussions with teachers about change.
Teachers, he said, see themselves becoming facilitators of education as students become information producers. They envision students with portfolios and teachers with the ability to use technology to assemble their own courses, Campbell said.
“I’m just busting at the seams because we’re all on the same page,” Campbell said. “I don’t see any visible disconnect at all.”
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.