The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

September 25, 2012

Joplin School Board approves the moving of "Hope High School" sign

By Emily Younker

— The Joplin Board of Education decided Tuesday night to go forward with moving the “Hope High School” sign from the Joplin High School site. But details including the method to be used, the final destination of the sign and the cost of the project remain unknown, board President Randy Steele said.

The cost of moving the sign will depend on the method used for the project, Superintendent C.J. Huff said. There are two possible methods: removing the sign as a whole piece, which Huff said runs the risk of it breaking into pieces, and removing the sign brick by brick and reassembling it later at a permanent location.

The board also decided to open access to the sign to the public until Nov. 1, at which time administrators hope to have put the project out for bid and to have contracted a company for the work.

In other business Tuesday, a 4-2 vote by the board stalled the first step in a revision of the district’s long-range strategic plan.

Huff had presented the board with five broad objectives, referred to by district officials as Standards of Excellence, to be used as a guide in creating specific improvement strategies during a months-long planning and review procedure.

The standards are:

• All areas of student achievement will be on target or exceed expectations as measured by the Missouri School Improvement Program.

• Joplin schools will graduate civic-minded, high-quality residents who are college- and career-ready.

• Joplin schools will become the employer of choice through the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff members.

• Joplin will become the school district of choice in Southwest Missouri by demonstrating annual improvement in overall patron, parent and student satisfaction.

• Joplin schools will demonstrate financial stability and targeted allocation of taxpayer resources to support the board-approved Standards of Excellence.

Of the seven-member board, members Jeff Flowers and Anne Sharp voted against the standards. Board member Dawn Sticklen was absent. Although the 4-2 vote would have approved the proposal, Huff said he wanted the full board’s approval.

“I can’t move forward with a split vote, so I guess I’ll have to stop,” he said immediately after the vote.

Flowers said he voted against the proposal because he objected to the development of the standards without significant board input.

“To me, as a school board member, the policy-making function (of the board) means that at least, at a minimum, two school board members should be involved intimately in the making of these goals,” he said.

Steele, the board president, said he supported Huff’s proposal and expressed frustration with the board for its split vote.

“I think it’s a wonderful plan, but you’ve got to step back sometimes to move forward,” he told the board. “By the way you voted tonight, you’re telling me you do not support the direction this district is going.”

The district’s existing long-range plan, which was to guide a five-year period of time, was completed in the summer of 2009. It outlined nearly 40 strategies for the district, 15 of which focused on improving the graduation rate.

Administrators say a “vast majority” of that plan has been completed. Accomplished strategies, board members said during a work session preceding Tuesday’s meeting, included increasing parental involvement in schools, emphasizing professional development for faculty and staff members, and launching Bright Futures, the program that teams up schools with businesses, relief agencies and faith-based groups.

Work on revising the strategic plan began just before the May 2011 tornado but fell by the wayside over the past year as administrators focused on helping students and staff members, Huff said.

“We got cut short on May 22,” he said. “We had to stop short of being able to implement (the results of that planning effort). ... We really need to get focused and get organized.”

The review effort called for opportunities for input and review from the community, district personnel and board members. Huff said he wanted to have a revised strategic plan in place by June 30.

Live broadcast

TUESDAY’S MEETING of the Board of Education was broadcast live on JET-14 TV, which is operated by Joplin High School. It was the first such telecast since the May 2011 tornado.