City Council and the School Board met jointly Saturday to begin the process of developing a core vision and master plan to transform public education so the city can be better prepared for the knowledge economy.
As part of the process, the two governing bodies will be looking at target areas such as academic programs and performance, facilities and funding.
“I was impressed by how well the two elected bodies worked together,” City Manager Ken Larking said Monday. “It's evident to me that our leaders care deeply about the future of our City and our school system.”
School Superintendent Dr. Stanley Jones agreed, saying, “I am inspired by the manner in which our elected officials worked in unison to focus on investing in the future of our community through our schools. It is clear that our civic leaders are focused on improving learning for the betterment of our entire community.”
Larking and Jones will meet with key staff members over the next few days to refine the vision and to identify specific strategies that will become the foundation of the master plan. When complete, they will schedule a second joint meeting of City Council and the School Board, at which time they will present the information and seek the input and consent of the two boards.
Saturday’s meeting was a daylong retreat held at Frank R. Campbell Stadium on the north campus of Averett University. The two governing bodies worked through their discussions with the help of two facilitators, John P. Thomas, a partner with the public service consulting firm DecideSmart, and A. Tyler St. Clair, his associate for this project.
The retreat commenced with a team building exercise to help participants know more about each other, including values that have shaped their views on leadership and education.
Other activities for the day included reviewing the history of the City to examine the changing economy, along with events and people that have been significant in shaping it.
In addition to preparing students to succeed in a knowledge-based economy, the public education vision, yet to be finalized, may include important aspirations such as:
- Having a mindset that education is an asset enabling individuals to move beyond where they are today
- Recognition that having great schools can lead to restoring Danville’s status as a great place to raise a family
- Having Danville Public Schools become a “destination for public education”
- Having schools and businesses work together to ensure a workforce ready to work in this community
- Having a school system “strong at its core” with leadership that survives transition
City Council and School Board members discussed what it might take to achieve these aspirations, ultimately identifying seven target areas that will need to be addressed with more comprehensive planning. Those target areas are:
- Student development
- A strong Council/School Board relationship
- Academic programs and performance
- High Quality facilities
- Adequate funding
- Human capital and engagement
- Positively enhance the perception of Danville Public Schools
Education was one of three focus areas that City Council established in October. The other two areas are reducing violent crime and growing Danville. Since then, Larking has announced 30 short-term and long-term strategies to reduce violent crime and nearly 20 strategies to grow Danville.