District sets goals for this year

File photo of the executive leadership team of the Newhall School District

The Newhall School District’s superintendent proposed a set of goals during Tuesday’s district meeting that are expected to serve as the district’s priorities for the coming year.

“The goals are more qualitative than quantitative,” Superintendent Jeff Pelzel said. “The data speaks for itself in terms of test scores and academic success, but what about the other things that we haven’t measured?”

The six goals identified by Pelzel will outline the district’s objectives, Pelzel said. Some goals strongly mirror those set forth in his 90-day plan, while others reflect the district’s two-year partnership with the Center for Educational Leadership.

“Think of the goals as a marriage between what we’ve been doing as a district and what we’ve been learning about as we build our capacity as educational leaders,” Pelzel said.

The first of the six goals is centered around establishing a trusting, positive and working relationship with members of the governing board, Pelzel said. “If we have a trusting relationship, then we will collaborate and find a vision that works for all students.”

If the governing board can understand and trust who and where the initiatives are coming from, then things will move a lot quicker, Pelzel said. The governing board will also be able to vet resolutions because their questions won’t be seen as a personal attack on one’s expertise.

To accomplish the goal, Pelzel said he would like to host workshops similar to the one held in July, when the governing board discussed protocols and department needs that are vital to every student’s success.

Pelzel’s second goal — improving the district’s climate — is closely tied to his first and focuses on the development of teachers, the time and space they have to collaborate and getting feedback about the training they want and need, he said.

“Obviously if you have a positive climate and people feel supported and valued, then workforce productivity for everyone increases,” whether that be teachers, students or parents, Pelzel said.
This is important because the district wants to create a welcoming environment that will make it attractive to prospective employees and students.

“Word of mouth matters,” Pelzel added, which is why his third goal focuses on establishing trust and confidence through open and honest communication.

“Really, this is about me being visible and accessible to all stakeholders,” Pelzel said. “If I’m not out and about and on the ground with all constituents in our organization, then it’s tough for me to make the decisions relevant to the district’s success.”

NSD wants all kids to be achieving at high levels, Pelzel said. “We do have good data but we can get better,” which is why he would like to see the board support a results-focused environment that pushes staff and students to improve.

“Wherever we are today is just fine as long as we aren’t in the same place a year from now,” Pelzel said. “This is all about supporting all of our students and our goal is to decrease and eliminate the performance gaps across student groups.”

In order to achieve this goal, Pelzel said the district has to continue ensuring that its facilities support student learning, which is another objective of the superintendent for this academic year.

“We need to be looking at our facilities, at classrooms and teaching environments and then think about our future needs as the district grows,” Pelzel said, adding that residents supported the Measure E bond initiative several years ago, and the district has put those funds to good use, but needs to look at the next phases and what supports are needed to help teachers.

In order to do that the district must be fiscally responsible, especially in the age of declining enrollment, Pelzel said, referring to the effects that enrollment has on the district’s state funding. “Leaving $2 million on the table is a lot, especially for a district of our size.”

All six of the drafted goals and priorities will be considered by the governing board on Tuesday, Pelzel said. “We’ll have dialogue and discussion around these things and we’ll settle on the goals.”

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