AUGUSTA — The Board of Education approved its goals for this year Wednesday, including a goal of undergoing training so board members can communicate with each other better and become a cohesive team by next summer.

The four goals for the year board members agreed to include a “board development” goal that states, “By June 2017, the Augusta School Board will be a cohesive team committed to developing and refining Boardsmanship skills as measured by a board self-evaluation survey.” Action to achieve that goal would include the board taking part in multiple training sessions that will focus on “group dynamics communication and negotiation strategies, and trust.”

That training, the goals state, would result in a school board that is clear about its purpose as a team, clear about the team’s roles in fulfilling that purpose, adept at using meaningful norms and ground rules to support its work, skillful at using protocols and processes to structure its work, effective in making decisions as a team, respectful and supportive of one another as team members, and reflective about its practice as a team in order to improve its performance continuously.

The effort to improve the board’s inner workings comes on the heels of the resignation of at-large member Laura Hamilton, who said questioning administrators’ proposals elicited hostility and anger from a core group of board members.

However, Kim Martin, board chairwoman, said the board development goal was not meant specifically to address any current conflict on the board, though she acknowledged board members don’t and won’t always agree on issues.

“There are always going to be moments on a board when people with different backgrounds and reasons for being there don’t agree,” Martin said before the meeting. “Getting past those moments is what we need to do. As a board, our goal is to be able to come together and work together to make the best decisions for our students. Going forward, we want to make sure we’re a group that can work well together.”

The goals include an “overarching goal” stating that “the Augusta School Board is committed to continuously creating and improving conditions that support all learners succeeding; building on strengths and addressing challenges to meet the needs of each and every student.”

The other, more specific, board goals include analyzing and making recommendations regarding the current neighborhood school concept and forming a plan for improving communications with the public.

Edward Hastings, an at-large board member, noted the goal of improving communications with the public should include ways for feedback to be provided, so the board knows whether the steps it takes to improve communications are working.

“I want to make sure there are feedback mechanisms,” he said.

The communications goal includes an “action strategy” to “identify methods of determining the extent to which the public perception and community relations are improving.”

Board members also received Hamilton’s resignation from her now former at-large school board seat.

Hamilton said, in an interview, she resigned because of an environment in which board members who asked questions about proposals and policies favored by administrators and a core group of board members were treated with hostility and anger. She said she no longer could endure the amount of emotion and drama that seemed to greet legitimate questions from her and others about policies and proposals.

Martin, in an interview earlier this week, said the board does not create a hostile environment and that questions and discussions are welcome. She said she is sorry Hamilton perceived that the board created a hostile environment.

Board members did not address those concerns Wednesday or speak about her resignation, which was on the agenda but did not require formal action.

Superintendent James Anastasio, at the meeting, thanked Hamilton for her service to the board and the school district and wished her well in future endeavors.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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