Technology, health, top board concerns

First Posted: 6/14/2009

As part of the conclusion of the Surry County Schools Board of Education retreat last week, board members reviewed how the goals set for the 2008-09 school year had been met as well as setting new objectives for the 2009-10 school year.
These objectives were assigned under the seven goals set forth by the board to encourage what it calls a 21st century learning environment for students.
One of the concerns brought to the boards attention is the same thing that is on the minds of people everywhere – the state of the economy and its affects on the budget.
We are faced with something now we havent been and thats diminishing dollars, Superintendent Ashley Hinson told the board. For me, thats the biggest challenge we have as a school board to do more with less.
Board members acknowledged the situation but did not feel that it should impact the quality of education provided to the students.
I dont think we can pull back in any fashion, shape or form. We cant ignore the financial situation, but we need to work with it and in it, said Earlie Coe, board chair.
Everybodys trying to figure out how to do more with less. Thats just life right now, said Michele Hunter, board member.
One of the major concerns brought up by board members and included as an objective under two goals dealt with increasing concerns about the health of students in the school system.
I am very concerned about the state of health of our students, said Coe. This is something we can do in house without a lot of extra money.
Several board members made it a point to say that efforts in physical education needs to start in elementary school and continue through high school. They said that the middle schools were doing a good job with teaching students about healthy, active lifestyles, having them keep weekly activity logs. However, they want to see that effort translate to the elementary and high school levels.
They board set as objectives to focus on physical health by supporting new initiatives to promote healthier lifestyles as well as to promote a healthy lifestyle through enhanced physical activity and promotion of healthy food intake in all grade spans.
Another focus of the boards discussions revolved around teachers and making sure that they are implementing technology appropriately into their lesson plans.
According to new objectives set, the board will monitor the progress of teachers technological savvy and implementation as the year progresses. They will also focus their hiring efforts on teachers and staff members who have 21st century technology skills.
Along with these thoughts, they also established as an objective to deploy laptops to all seventh graders no later than January 2010.
What is expected is to use 21st century plans in your lessons, said Hinson. This is the emphasis the board wants placed on technology.
This is about whats best for the children and equipping them for a global economy, said Hunter.
Among other objectives set by the board are, examining practices such as group punishments, providing assistance for the implementation of positive behavior support models, focusing on the arts and creativity, look into energy conservation and increasing efforts to enforce tobacco free campuses.
The board also communicated its desire to support ninth grade transition programs in all four high schools and collect data to monitor effectiveness.
If well relay the message that we support what efforts they have, I think they would be OK with that, said Jeff Hall, board member.
The board will continue to monitor its goals and objectives throughout the year and hope to see a culmination of the efforts at next years retreat.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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