Pleasanton Weekly

News - October 21, 2011

PUSD looks at 'moral imperatives'

District creates draft mission and vision statements

by Glenn Wohltmann

Innovative. Creative. Well balanced.

Those are some of the words the Pleasanton school district is using in its search for new ways to describe its students and looking at where it is, what it wants, and where it wants to go.

The district has created a new mission statement, a list of moral imperatives and a vision statement.

In a four-hour workshop on Oct. 14, board members and administrators came up with what they think are the keys to the district's future.

"We keep looking at our programs -- how can we do that better?" Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi told the group, ahead of the discussion about imperatives and the vision and mission statements.

First up was a discussion about the differences between the three. Moral imperatives are what board members and administrators think are the district's responsibilities, according to consultant Edward Porter of Noli-Porter Associates, who led the workshop.

"If it's a moral imperative, you're going to fight for it," Porter told the group.

Initially, the group tossed words like innovation, irresistible and equity into the mix, along with phrases like "every student can learn."

The board members and administrators worked in small groups, then brought their ideas to a table where they all compared notes. Through the process they narrowed down to the items every member thought were essential to include.

Initial ideas for the district's vision statement -- where the district wants to be in the future -- included phases like "adaptable, curious thinkers," "emotionally and physically healthy" and "safe, valued and respected."

Porter explained that the district's mission statement, while it may be similar to others, "should not be transferable." He said when people look at a mission statement, as in the case of a parent considering a move into the area, they should read the statement as something the district can do. In contrast, when people the vision statement they see that the district "can dream nicely."

The workshop participants also looked at other districts' mission and vision statements, noting that many of them are similar.

The drafts of all three statements will go out to a listening campaign, where groups of about 10 will discuss the ideas, with board members and administrators moderating the groups and asking questions. That will be done for parents and staff, community groups like the Rotaries, the Chamber of Commerce and large and small businesses. The goal is to have those discussions completed early next year, followed by another draft that will be open for comment from everyone.

"What you're sending out to them is in no way final because you're going to vet it," Porter said. "You're going to use all the social media that your community is so good at."

While many mission and vision statements become nothing more than wall decorations, Ahmadi said she plans to integrate them into district policy and strategies to achieve each one.

"I honestly will look at this as a roadmap," she said. "I want to have this as something we can give somebody (and ask), 'Is this part of our vision?' 'Is this part of our mission?' 'Is this what we really will do?'"


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