South Orangetown Central School District

The South Orangetown Central School District Board of Education is embarking on a new approach to its work, with a focus on impact. “We’re setting the challenge to enhance Board effectiveness,” noted President Dan Lamadrid at the opening of the Board’s September 19 workshop to develop a work plan aligned with the district’s Strategic Goals and Master Planning process.

The 90-minute session was facilitated by Executive Director for Pupil Personnel Services Karen Tesik and Executive Director for Finance and Management Alicia Koster according to the National School Reform Faculty’s Futures Protocol which guides participants in clarifying vision, identifying opportunities and pathways for focused work or improvement and take purposeful action.

The workshop centered on a three-part visioning protocol that placed Board members at their July 2024 reorganization meeting and challenged them to reflect on what they would be most proud of accomplishing in the preceding five years. Here are some of their reflections:

  • “That we were proactive in planning and getting the best for our students in the most economical way.”
  • “That we have a thriving, high-performance culture for both our students and staff.”
  • “That we successfully created a learning plan that is inclusive of all students.”
  • “That our students can learn without being concerned about their safety, physically or emotionally.”
  • “That we created a professional culture with talent that exceeds its potential and built a reputation for drawing and developing the best talent.”
  • “That we have the highest rank in terms of successful student college and post-graduation preparedness, readiness and transition and produce students who are sought after by colleges and employers.”
  • “That our policies are complete, up-to-date and relevant.”
  • “That we are in strong financial condition with a comprehensive long-range plan that is in sync with our strategic plan and that we took specific steps to eliminate future budget deficits.”

The next step asked Board members to look back, from five years in the future, to identify their most pressing 2019 concerns. Here are some of their reflections:

  • “Do we have the right plan? Are we gaining inclusive input to meet our goals?”
  • “Do we have the time, talent and money we need?”
  • “Will there be some unforeseen event that throws us off-course?”
  • “Do we have the support of our community and staff? Do we underestimate that support?”
  • “Are we too conservative and not bold enough in our vision?”

Finally, Board members were asked to look at their responses and identify connections to guide their work to move from current concerns to their visions of future accomplishments.

  • “How do we gain the history of what was done?”
  • “How do we create the right process to effectively use our talent and resources?”
  • “How do we break a paradigm where we’re not just putting in new versions of the same old things…can we reimagine what education should look like?”
  • “How much risk are we willing to take?”
  • “How do we build support and alignment with community and staff to take risks?”

“As a Board, what is our aspiration for our school district?” Lamadrid asked. “Do we want to be average or do we want to be exceptional? That’s where our risk appetite comes from and that will establish the direction of our school district.”

Topics identified for future workshop consideration included safety, curriculum and learning, staffing and development, and culture. “To go from where we are today to the future the Board is envisioning, we need to do the work to make those connections,” said Tesik.

Board of Education workshop with presenters