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Chappaqua School Board Looks at Value System

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – During a discussion of Chappaqua Central School District’s mission statement on Jan. 31, school board members debated the necessity adding a third strategic question targeting the emotional, social and physical needs of its students.

“There’s a lot of things you need to think about when you look at the mission statement,” said Board of Education President Alyson Kiesel. “We talk about raising ethical children, we talk about life skills in addition to content knowledge and problem solving.”

Currently, the district’s first two strategic questions revolve around budget and operations, plus teaching and learning. Superintendent Lyn McKay said during the recent principal search at Horace Greeley High School, several students raised the issue of adding a third question.

“That’s something they actually see as important to do,” said McKay. “Should we have one to balance the teaching, learning and fiscal question? Should there then be one around social, emotional – and I would add – physical health of students so that we have this healthy balance?”

While board members were in agreement over success being defined by more than academic skills, several members expressed hesitancy over the district enforcing any values.

“As a parent, my child’s social and emotional need is my responsibility,” said board member Karen Visser. “That basis is on my Christian belief. So, do I really want to put the responsibility on the school district or a teacher who has not the same values as I do?”

Visser said adding a question that defines values would be a gray area, as such a thing would be difficult to quantify. “How do you measure integrity?” she said. 

Fellow school board members Jeffrey Mester and Randall Katchis said while values may be left out of the discussion, the school can at least look into enforcing its students’ “honor code” more.

“It’s great to write a code of conduct and put a piece of paper together, but you really have to have teeth behind it,” said Katchis.

Katchis also suggested the emotional, social and phsyical health of students could be improved by something as simple as reducing sugar in a students’ diet. “If we can do that, that’s healthy. That’s a healthy environment,” he said.

The district will continue the discussion about a potential third strategic question at future meetings.

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