When it comes to operating a school district, school board president Frank Sullivan said it comes down to communication. That was the focus of a special board learning session Monday Nov. 4 that gave some individual attention to all five district schools.

It was part of what Sullivan calls a “linkages” approach the board has been taking in recent months, to try to learn more about each school. Each board member is assigned a “linkage” with a school, with remaining board members assigned to community organizations.

“We do better when we talk and listen to each other,” Sullivan told the Hub Tuesday. “The more we understand about the education (students) are getting ... the better we can do at providing the individual schools the resources they need to give our kids a good education.”

While learning sessions aren’t new to the board, Sullivan said this was a different, large-group format, including leadership teams from Stoughton High School, River Bluff Middle School, and Fox Prairie, Kegonsa and Sandhill elementaries. Each school had a table, with a board member or two engaging in a “free-flowing” discussion.

“That allows us to sort of get more into depth on some issues,” Sullivan said. “What we were trying to do is get board members and the school teams looking at what specifically is going on at each school.”

Since every school is different, they need to be looked at that way, he said.

“They have different student population, different staff, and they have different needs,” Sullivan said.

“We’re trying to foster dialogue, and figure out how best to have that conversation … about how the board can best serve the schools.”

Sullivan sat in with the Kegonsa group, and talked about how they are “revamping their approach to teaching reading based on research.” One item that came out of the session, Sullivan said, was that the board and district educators agree on the need for a new district-wide reading curriculum “more closely aligned to state standards and current research on how students learn to read.”

“They’re already seeing significant improvement in student performance,” he said.

“We talked about how bad we need that and how we're going to go get it,” he said.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.