Setting the Course
Successful, high achieving school districts have several features in common, chief among them a compelling vision, a set of shared beliefs reflecting the highest hopes for students and staff, and a clear description of the qualities and characteristics of its graduates.
During the 2015-16 school year, we initiated a process to investigate, explore and research a set of guiding principles that would aid us in our ongoing effort to provide an outstanding educational experience for all of our students. A key feature of this process included seeking feedback from the parent community and staff. This exciting effort led to our new board-adopted vision statement, organizational beliefs and desired characteristics of a Benicia Unified School District graduate.
To begin the process, community members and staff were asked three questions: What beliefs should we share as a school district regarding how we function on behalf of our students? What characteristics are essential for our students to possess upon graduation? What ideas should be evident in our vision statement? (Vision statement: a picture of a compelling, desired future state.)
We received an abundance of thoughtful and creative ideas. The next step included grouping the ideas into patterns of thought and themes. To aid us in this effort, we leaned on research, workforce trends, expectations from universities, experience and common sense. We then asked a subcommittee of parents from our Local Control Accountability Development Team to help draft the set of principles. This group was intelligent, enthusiastic and dedicated to the task. They are to be commended for doing an excellent job!
Once we crafted a rough draft, it was shared, revised and discussed in detail with staff and the School Board, whereupon it was approved at a June Board meeting. While it is a challenge to hit the sweet spot with this kind of work, we believe we developed language that will help guide our work in ways that are both inspiring and actionable. These guiding principles will shape our planning efforts as we develop key initiatives, goals, actions and metrics outlined in our LCAP, which also functions as our District strategic plan. The guiding principles are as follows:
Vision: BUSD – Where all students achieve at their highest potential in an engaging, inspiring and challenging learning environment.
Organizational Beliefs (Tenets)
- Students reach their potential when they are engaged, encouraged, challenged and supported in the pursuit of their interests, passions and talents.
- All students are creative, unique and can learn.
- Education is a collaborative effort among students, staff, parents, guardians and the community.
- Education must be purposeful, challenging and innovative.
- In valuing the diversity of students, staff and the community
- Every student has a voice that deserves to be heard.
- Safe and welcoming schools help students and staff reach their potential.
- Educational experiences for students and staff are continually improved through systems of accountability.
Desired Characteristics of a Benicia Graduate
- Inquisitive with a desire to be lifelong learners
- Self-sufficient, self-motivated and socially responsible individuals
- Fully prepared and equipped for college or career in the 21st Century
- Collaborative, creative, critical thinkers with strong communication skills
- Compassionate, respectful and possess a high degree of integrity
- Resilient with the willingness to persevere
- Innovative, entrepreneurial and adaptable
- Globally aware and environmentally responsible citizens
- Capable of recognizing the talents in themselves so they can be fulfilled, compassionate and engaged individuals
LCAPStrategic Plan Key Initiatives
Key initiatives, reflective of our guiding principles and outlined in our District Strategic Plan (LCAP), are briefly outlined below. The plan, in full, can be accessed on the district webpage.
Initiative #1: All students are college and career ready; all students are supported in their social and emotional development; all staff are engaged in robust professional development.
Initiative #2: All schools are Future Ready Schools; all teachers use researched based, progressive instructional methodologies.
Initiative #3: All stakeholders are engaged in inclusive communication efforts and feedback; all sites offer active parent involvement opportunities.
Measure S Update
We are currently prioritizing the next phase of project implementation and proudly share the following completed projects. Thanks again to the Benicia Community for passing Measure S!
Completed Bond Projects
1. Technology infrastructure upgrades – all schools
2. Phone system – all schools
3. Playground upgrades – all elementary schools
4. Roof – Benicia Middle School
5. Roof – Mary Farmar Elementary School
6. Softball field bleachers
7. Exterior painting – Benicia High School
8. Fire alarm system – BMS
Bond Projects In-progress
1. Clocks/bells/PA upgrade and replacement — estimated completion fall 2016
2. Camera security system — only punch list remaining
4. BHS Stadium Track & Field — starting construction July 18th.5. IT server and disaster recover upgrade: estimated completion fall 2016
Bond Projects in Planning Stage:
1. BHS fire alarm upgrades for construction in summer 2017
2. Solar updates and Prop 39 work
3. Portable replacement and upgrades at Benicia Middle School
It is an honor to be the Superintendent of the Benicia Unified School District! I am proud and grateful to be engaged in this high-level work with such a dedicated and caring community.