The Hesperia Unified School District school board wrapped up their 2008 spring break with a special Saturday meeting, agreeing upon overall core values for the Victor Valley's largest school district.

"As leaders, our goal is to help communicate that vision," said Superintendent Mark McKinney, dressed in an uncharacteristic khakis and a pullover. With various board members proposing different vision statements, McKinney suggested looking at the similarities, rather than the differences. "Identify the common pieces."

The sometimes-contentious school board mostly got along at the sparsely attended meeting, and the district's legal counsel Tristan Pelayes repeatedly worked to keep things going that way.

"Does anyone see anything offensive or malicious in any of these elements? No?" attorney Tristan Pelayes asked the board members. "Can we agree that everyone has the best interest of the kids at heart?"

In the end, the board committed to a new six-point set of core values for the HUSD:

"We are absolutely committed to providing a distinguished and challenging learning environment that ensures excellence and achievement for all our students. "We believe it is our responsibility to spend the funds entrusted to us to obtain the greatest educational opportunities for our youth while maintaining financial accountability and a prudent reserve. "We believe in promoting strong partnerships and regular communication with parents and community members to help our students maximize their individual potential. "We believe in recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees who maintain high moral and ethical character and consistently exhibit a positive example, exemplary attitude, genuine caring and enthusiasm which promotes long-term stability and quality in our educational programs. "We believe in principled relationships and meaningful negotiations with employee groups which advance student achievement as well as both employee and district interests. "We believe that students and staff should be housed in learning and working environments that are clean and safe."

The new set of core values replaces a set approved by the last school board, and mirrors them to a great extent. The previous set had long term stability as a separate and final item, instead of grouping it in with a commitment to recruiting employees who have a "high moral and ethical character and consistently exhibit a positive example, exemplary attitude, genuine caring and enthusiasm." (The phrase appears in both the current and previous sets of core values.)

The board also approved a new vision statement: "The vision of Hesperia Unified School District is to establish a learning environment that inspires, challenges and prepares our students and families with the passion and intellectual power to make positive life choices and become architects of their future in a democratic American society."

The board also drafted a new set of board protocols outlining the responsibility of board members.

The next regular meeting of the HUSD school board will take place on April 7 at 6 p.m. at 15576 Main Street.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.