SIDNEY – Sidney’s Board of Education scrutinized every word Thursday evening as it worked to update the school’s mission and vision statements – perhaps for the first time in almost two decades.
No one in Thursday’s meeting at the Board of Education Office could remember the last time Sidney City Schools updated its vision and mission statements.
“It’s been at least 18 years, at least,” Director of Curriculum Brooke Gessler said. “I really do think so.”
As the board members worked to craft their statements, words were debated as the board members sought statements that reflected the school’s priorities and needs of a diverse student body. The word “safe” was of a particular concern.
The board wanted to prioritize a safe environment in which every student is valued and bullying is eliminated. But in light of school shootings that have become a concern for school districts across the nation, the Sidney Board of Education worried that the word “safe” could evoke images of barricades and armed guards. The board also worried that a vision statement with the word “safe” could cause people to think the school is currently unsafe.
Such nuance was troubling as the board wanted to keep its statements concise.
“It’s important to keep it broad enough that it kind of encompasses all the aspects that we need so the wording is kind of important so it doesn’t leave anything out,” board member Mandi Croft said.
Ultimately the board decided it wanted to focus on the ideas of respectfulness, responsibility and community with an emphasis on its students.
“Community, faculty, students – they all have a part in our vision,” board member Linda Meininger said.
The board came to an agreement with a mission statement of “To inspire, empower and prepare our students for their best future” and a vision statement of “To meet the needs of all students in a safe, respectful and responsible learning community.”
The mission and vision statements are needed because they provide guidance for the district.
“I think that when we make future decisions on direction, we really need to say, ‘Does it fit in our mission?’ in order to make that decision,” Superintendent Bob Humble said.
The board plans to use the statements to evaluate its superintendent and treasurer during annual evaluations, aligning the goals for those staff members with the goals of the district.
“I wanted to have this component in place because as we set the goals for the year, those goals should be in alignment for what the vision of the district is,” Board President Robert Smith said.
Smith suggested the district should reevaluate its vision and mission statements every other year, which would put the process in line with board of education elections. Changes might not be made every two years, but the board agreed it should review the statements much more frequently.
“The needs are going to change, just like they have changed in the last 20, 30 years,” Humble said. “What we were doing 30 years ago is not what we’re having to do now.”
The board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the Board of Education Office Community Room. It anticipates having the first reading of the mission and vision statements on Monday and approving them in July.
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