The Visalia Unified School District Board was awarded the prestigious Golden Gavel Award last week during the California School Boards Association Annual Education Conference.
Only one school governing board receives the award annually after a strict evaluation process.
The big picture: After appointing a new superintendent last year, the board focused on making policy changes this year in academics, safety and communications.
- Academically, the board increased math graduation requirements to three years to align with A-G requirements.
- Safety-wise, the board made professional development and infrastructure investments to ensure staff are equipped with the knowledge and tools in case a school site has been compromised.
- The board also made it a priority to ensure that the community receive timely and transparent information.
- Those changes resulted in over 80 percent of Visalia Unified constituents reporting that their trust in the district has been restored.
- The board also began work on a strategic and long-range facilities plan.
What they’re saying: “Today, we are a unified governance team, but this was not the case when many of us began our journeys as trustees in Visalia Unified,” said Board President Walta Gamoian. “We did not have a clear understanding of our role and that our actions created the conditions that brought further confusion to the district. We did not take the time to value each other’s perspectives like we should have. I am honored to be a member of this team.”
- Superintendent Kirk Shrum said he is very proud of the leadership of the board.
- “It is a board that is focused on creating the conditions for the success of our students and that focus extends throughout the organization,” Shrum said. “They live out our district mission in all of their decisions.”