About 150 people attended the New Albany-Plain Local School District's town-hall meeting Feb. 23.

About 150 people attended the New Albany-Plain Local School District's town-hall meeting Feb. 23.

Superintendent April Domine explained the district's mission and vision statements, described the district's 2011-12 goals and strategies for improvement and shared the financial outlook and future plans for funding partnerships.

Domine said she tried to include answers to some of the 70 questions submitted for the event. The district accepted questions in advance via email.

Domine said the questions were mostly about innovation, instruction and learning; staff hiring and professional development; programs for gifted and special-needs students; diversity; bullying; operations; and technology.

"I considered it a state of the union (speech)," said Michelle Blackley, a district parent.

Blackley said she had never met Domine, who was hired in November 2010.

"I wanted to get an idea of what's happening in the district," she said. "April is new to us and I think she's been very open and honest about the state of the district. She's looking in a very clear lens of where improvements need to be."

Holly Robbertz said she wanted to meet Domine in person and hear her interpretation of the district's mission and vision.

"I think this is the starting point for me and a catalyst for more questions I have," Robbertz said.

Domine said the district's mission and vision statements are what drew her to New Albany. The district's mission is: "To ensure the development of high-achieving, ethical, self-directed and intellectually curious citizens of the world." The district's vision is: "To become the leader in reinventing education."

New Albany junior Jake Whitted said he attended to earn his Boy Scout citizenship badge.

"I learned what we're trying to do with innovation in New Albany to try and set us apart from other schools," Whitted said. "I see more how they are dealing with problems that we see as students every day."

Domine said the district's three goals for this school year have been to align the curriculum with the national "Common Core State Standards," to implement research strategies so all children are assessed individually and to start national benchmarking research on other school districts.

The "Common Core" standards "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them," according to the official website of the "Common Core" initiative.

Domine said the school district spent the past eight months studying high-performing districts nationwide. She said New Albany-Plain Local looked at ACT and SAT scores, district and school ratings and college recruitment practices before identifying four districts to study further.

One of those, the Minnetonka Public Schools in Minnesota, was chosen for an in-depth, in-person study by a research team of 17 people from the school district. Domine said the district is compiling data from the visit and will start reporting data to the board this month.

Domine answered many questions specifically:

• She said the district is improving academic options available to the students, including the addition of more Advanced Placement courses and consideration of the International Baccalaureate curriculum, while trying to balance the students' stress levels and pressures to achieve.

• She said the district is trying to hire a more diverse staff and improve programs offered to students who are gifted and those with special needs to increase achievement levels.

• She said the district needs to form a committee to respond to its increasing diversity and continue to improve its response to bullying.

• She said the district needs to look at school start times in different buildings and find innovative ways to create more flexible scheduling.