VALPARAISO | Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Mike Berta is looking to create leadership teams to prioritize educational needs and make recommendations to the School Board.
Berta presented his proposal to the board at its public discussion meeting Tuesday. His plan calls for districtwide and site-based teams that would discuss issues such as curriculum, technology, the strategic plan, accreditation and facilities, Berta said.
The goal is to come up with a list of what's most needed to promote high quality teaching and learning in the 21st century.
Berta said the districtwide team would include teachers, administrators and staff from departments such as transportation and food services. The site-based team would include educators at individual schools, as well as parents and residents, he said.
While the teams can make recommendations to the School Board, they would have no decision-making or voting powers, Berta said.
Parent Christopher Pupillo urged the board to make sure the process includes transparency and communication with residents. He also said the board should be talking about how to finance the needs.
“We've got to start talking about a referendum,” Pupillo said.
“Otherwise, all of this may be for naught.”
Berta said public discussion meetings such as the one being held Tuesday would serve as forums for community input and dialogue.
“There will be transparency and a rationale for the decisions that are being made,” Berta said.
In other business, Berta said the the level of anxiety and stress in the schools in the week following the school shooting in Connecticut was at an “all-time high.”
While Valparaiso's school safety and security measures have been ratcheted up, and local law enforcement and educators are working closely together, Valparaiso schools experienced significant problems with misinformation being spread through social media, Berta said.
Many parents asked for guarantees that their children would be safe, but Berta said he could not give them that.
“We're kidding ourselves if we think we can make our facilities 100 percent safe,” he said.
While having trained armed law enforcement officials in every school is one way to improve security, vigilance by every resident also could go a long way toward ensuring safety, Berta said.