Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Central Valley school board adopts plan to guide growth in the district

The start of each new school year is always filled with excitement. The promise of new learning and new experiences abound. On Sept. 8, over 12,400 students began a new year in Central Valley schools. Each student arrived with individual hopes and dreams for their future. From nervous kindergartners whose energy and enthusiasm greeted a new environment, to high school seniors ready to take on the world, I am reminded that it is their hopes and dreams that matter most.

As I begin my third year as superintendent of the Central Valley School District, I am continually impressed by the community support shown to our students. Together we enjoy many exciting opportunities as well as difficult challenges. We must meet these opportunities and challenges with the energy and resolve of the high school senior and the excitement of the kindergartner entering school for the first time.

Many of our challenges and opportunities are shared by other school districts in our state, brought on by budget issues, curriculum updates and federal unfunded mandates. For example, in Central Valley our steady enrollment growth is both an opportunity to help us navigate through these tough economic times because increasing enrollment allows us to maintain educational programs and staffing levels, and at the same time creates challenges in our schools as they near capacity and, in some schools, exceed capacity.

As a school system, we must act in the best interest of our students. Thoughtful planning has put us in a position to address our opportunities and our challenges. The school district board of directors recently adopted a strategic plan that guides our district into the future. The newly adopted strategic plan is a result of over a year’s worth of work by more than 500 Central Valley stakeholders. Please visit our website,, to review the 2010-2014 Strategic Plan and information about the planning process.

Throughout the strategic planning process we continually asked, “How do we measure our success?” While the answers varied, most can be categorized into three areas: student achievement (test scores), student engagement in school, and a successful school experience. Our new strategic plan sets specific measures in each of these areas.

We understand there is not one perfect single measure of our success, rather it is a consideration of many measures over time that will truly demonstrate our effectiveness. Each year as we collect measurable results, we will use a balanced scorecard to report our progress. The balanced scorecard will be designed to be used as both a planning and an evaluation tool, helping us to measure specific objectives in the strategic plan.

In each year of the plan, we outlined several strategies and activities for improvement. I would like to highlight two of the eleven initiatives being implemented this school year, and invite you learn more about all the 2010/’11 strategic plan initiatives through our website.

Character Education – In partnership with neighboring East Valley, Freeman and West Valley school districts, we are working to bring character to light through Partners Advancing Character Education – PACE. This partnership brings together schools, residents, businesses, public service agencies, faith-based organizations and community service groups. Each month, PACE highlights specific character traits and definitions. Working from this common list of character traits, schools, families and partner organizations strive to promote and integrate each trait into their everyday activities.

Construction Bond – In alignment with the strategic plan, our board adopted a 25-year capital facilities plan that charts a course for the current and future needs of our schools and facilities. The plan was crafted through intensive work by a community-led committee. Through their review of the physical conditions of all 24 district buildings, community input, review of enrollment projections, and construction requirements for schools, they developed a long-range plan, which includes five proposed bonds to modernize aging schools and build new schools for our projected growth throughout Central Valley. The first bond will go before voters on February 8, 2011.

I encourage you to read about all of the initiatives in the Strategic Plan because they focus on what we strive for every day in Central Valley Schools: inspiring and empowering learners to be contributing citizens in our changing world.

Ben Small is superintendent of the Central Valley School District. He can be reached by e-mail at


Click here to comment on this story »