Shelter Island Board of Education seeks public input to set attainable goals

Quantify, quantify, quantify. 

That’s the approach the Board of Education is taking to establish specific goals for the district and measure success or failure year to year.

“We’re already an amazing school, but we want to raise the bar,” Board President Kathleen Lynch told her colleagues. The district has a mission statement, but members want to expand their vision with time-based goals.

In response to the initiative from the state’s Education Department, Shelter Island school officials have contacted other districts for templates, Superintendent Brian Doelger said. There’s a need to adjust goals to fit a small school like Shelter Island, since some goals might not be reasonable to include, he added.

The superintendent cited the case of a district that might start a course in French. That would be fiscally difficult for a school like Shelter Island, which is mandated to offer certain courses, but can’t offer a wide variety of foreign language studies.

While last week was the board’s initial foray into what will be a lengthy process of establishing goals and a system of measuring progress, this year it will become a regular part of meetings so that new steps can be assessed to determine their effectiveness. Board Member Margaret Colligan, submitted a number of thoughts she had about goals, including ongoing efforts at professional development.

Board Vice President Jason Lones suggested using the “SMART” approach to setting goals. They need to be:

• Specific, simple and sensible

• Measurable

• Achievable

• Relevant

• Time bound

The administration and board is asking the public to participate in the process of identifying goals and suggestions for subcategories that become more specific.

Major categories the board established last week include education, fiscal matters, communication and leadership, while agreeing that technology could potentially fall under a number of those areas, from the need to purchase new equipment and systems, to staff and student training.

Mr. Doelger said he’ll work with the administrative staff to flesh out some of the large categories and the discussion will continue at the Feb. 10 Board of Education meeting beginning at 5 p.m., followed by the second budget discussion and regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m.

Those who can’t attend the meeting should feel free to call or email Mr. Doelger, he said, or members of the Board of Education with goals they would like to have considered. 

Meetings that include budget talks are also videotaped so the Feb. 10 meeting will be widely available and, perhaps, can help to spur some ideas from town residents, he said.