On Tuesday, November 10, 2010, Dr. Andrew Melin, the first year Valparaiso Community Schools' Superintendent, led a public forum for questions and feedback concerning the school system's 2010-2013 Strategic Plan that has been in development the last several months. Hundreds of parents, community leaders, and city citizens were in attendance leaving few seats open. Melin made it very clear from the start that he and the rest of the plan committee mean business and that this would be an action-oriented plan meaning talk and no action is not an option. The plan is for a November 16 approval by the schools' Board of Directors.
"Our world is as competitive as ever," explained Dr. Melin. "And when it comes down to it, we want our kids to get that job."
There were three main areas that the plan was to touch on. Student achievement and instruction was obviously at the top of the list as well as facilities and operations and finally community relations. The main goals of student achievement is that each student would receive challenging and appropriate instruction no matter their background or academic performance. That would mean not only high achievers would receive challenging material but also lower performers would receive appropriate work as well. This goal directly coincides with part of the schools' new mission and that is to maximize the learning potential of each student. In other words, the mission is to take each student as far as they can go.
In order to do that because of the limitations of certain facilities and buildings, the possibility of renovating or building new schools was mentioned. This possibility put concern in certain parents who immediately voiced those concerns.
"Whether we eventually decide to build new schools or renovate our current facilities or whatever we decide to do, what we need to do is benefit student achievement in any way," said Melin. He also added that "he had no preconceived notions about what that would look like."
The other issue that was among concern was budget cuts and how that would affect extracurriculars including the arts and sports. The state has cut funding to the school system as every other school system around the state which means Valparaiso Community Schools will have to cut 4.6% from their general fund.
Dave White, Chief Financial Advisor for the planning committee, said,"We will need to make cuts. I don't know what type of cuts yets, but I won't discriminate against any program or building in the making of these cuts." Melin eased fears as well by adding that the cuts will be made even across the board not favoring sports or the arts.
Throughout the entire presentation, Dr. Melin was very understanding, well-spoken, but very determined as well that this plan would be set into action. After all, the vision set forth by Dr. Melin for Valparaiso Community Schools is a lofty one. That Valparaiso schools would be at the forefront of education innovation driving from excellence to preeminence.
To read about how Dr. Andrew Melin became the new superintendent for Valparaiso Community Schools, click here.