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Valparaiso schools continue to hone decision-making process

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The date of next regular meeting of the Valparaiso School Board has been changed to Wednesday, Jan. 16.

Updated: February 14, 2013 6:18AM



VALPARAISO — Despite the caution not to jump ahead of the game, several participants in a community discussion session with the Valparaiso School Board last week engaged the topic of facilities head on.

Superintendent Mike Berta and the board have been exploring the topic of the 21st-century learner concept since last fall after several members of the board attended a session on that topic at the Indiana School Board Association’s annual meeting.

Berta has been using a consensus-building model, infused with his knowledge about learners, to show the community how decisions will be made concerning the direction the district will take in achieving its mission.

“Facilities is an issue. We know that,” said Mark Maassel, board president, adding that the process has to work its way out.

That process, described by Berta, involves establishing a central committee of key educators from each school, administrators, and representatives of service areas like transportation, food service and security.

Their purpose will be to pull together the strategic planning accomplished under the previous superintendent, all of the facility studies done to date, the curriculum alignment work and goal-setting needed for accreditation and the consensus of the discussion group on the nature of the 21st-century learner.

In addition to being engaged in discussion, parents and interested property owners will be tapped to be part of building level groups, which will send their consensus information to the central committee.

“This is the model,” Berta said. Most important in that model, he said, would be the “process” component where teachers would develop strategies to match curriculum with methods best suited to today’s learners. “Process is most important. That’s how the work gets done. That’s the magic of it. That’s where education comes in.”

Neither Christopher Pupillo nor Jeff Jacobs was willing to support the results of the process as presentedat the discussion last week, but for different reasons.

Both have been advocates for keeping neighborhood schools, some of which were recommended for closing by a committee called by former Superintendent Michael Benway.

Pupillo, who has attended nearly every meeting and who served on the strategic planning committee, said the decision-making model had no parent on the central committee and lacked transparency. No longer able to attend every meeting at every school, he called for access to detailed minutes from every building-level meeting.

Jacobs said he wanted more expertise on the central committee, “not just a bunch of educators and administrators.”

“I will work really hard to make sure any brick and mortar (decisions) will be driven by academic need,” Berta said.



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