By Will Fritz
Associate Editor 

FUESD approves $32k agreement for new mission statement


Last updated 10/22/2019 at 9:09am

The Fallbrook Union Elementary School District governing board voted Monday, Oct. 7, to approve a $32,000 agreement with a consultant to draft a new mission statement for the district.

Ohio-based Battelle for Kids will meet with district employees and community members over the course of the rest of the 2019-2020 school year to determine FUESD’s goals for its students over the nine years of elementary and middle school they spend in its schools for the project, called “Portrait of a Graduate.”

“We’ve been talking about creating a process like this to engage our community over the last couple of years or so,” FUESD superintendent Candace Singh said at the meeting.

Battelle for Kids will first meet with district leaders, then, over three community meetings between December 2019 and April 2020, gather input and work to whittle down a list of competencies the district hopes to leave each student with.

Singh said the community meetings will include “as many as 60 people of internal folks – our staff, our teachers, our support staff, administrators – in addition to as many as 15 to 20 community members.”

The consultant will deliver a project summary report to the district in May 2020, per the agreement, which was approved 4-1 with governing board member Caron Lieber casting the sole ‘no’ vote. Lieber said while she supported drafting a new mission statement for the district, she couldn’t get behind the cost for the consultant.

“It’s $32,000. And we just approved a communications director for $100,000 as well,” Lieber said, referring to FUESD director of communications Seth Trench, who was hired earlier this year. “I think, really, for a small district like ours of 5,000, it should be led by administrative staff, and specifically the superintendent.”

Singh defended the decision to make the agreement with the consultant, which she said has a proven track record of working with other school districts on similar projects.

“I think it is worth the expenditure and I think it’s going to result in what is going to be a wonderful, collaborative, engaging experience or our community and our school district with people who have had beautiful success doing this,” she said. “We’ve set aside carry-over money that we have carried over from last year to this year as a one-time expenditure.”

Governing Board Member Lisa Masten said she believes hiring a consulting firm with background in similar projects is preferable to having the district start from scratch.

“These are the experts. This is what they do. Why do we need to build a whole process?” she said.

Siegred Stillman, the governing board’s president, pointed out that the $32,000 cost is fairly low when the cost per student is considered.

“It’s only $6 per child, and it’s a one-time expenditure,” she said.

And most of the governing board members were pleased with the level of community involvement in Battelle’s plan

“As long as I’ve been on the board, we’ve never done anything like this,” Masten, who has served on the board since 2004, said. “I really like the part that we’re going to (have) parent engagement, involve the parents in it and staff and also the community.”

Lieber remained unconvinced, though she said she supported the idea of the project.

“I want to stress that I am 100% for doing this, I just don’t think we should spend $32,000,” Lieber said. “I think our superintendent is brilliant, has fabulous leadership skills and can just rock this all by herself, with the help of our communications director.”


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