District forming strategic plan
What will the South-Western City Schools District look like in 15 to 20 years? What changes will take place and how will the district face those changes?
These are questions district leaders hope to address with a strategic plan.
At the Nov. 29 board of education meeting, Deputy Superintendent Phil Warner said the district is moving forward with a strategic plan update. He explained a steering committee and two focus groups would help the district lay out the plan.
Warner said the 15-member steering committee, which consists of district employees, community members and school board president Randy Reisling, has met once and will meet several more times in the upcoming months. Two focus groups will also meet to help shape the district’s future. The focus groups include approximately a dozen community members.
Facilitators would lead the focus groups. According to Warner, American Electric Power (AEP) has loaned the district three of its professional facilitators. One other facilitator, who is a district community member, will also participate.
“AEP did this at no cost to the district,” said Warner.
The deputy superintendent said the groups would try to identify benchmarks, not simply review data.
“We want to know how to be on the forefront of change,” said Warner.
In 2009, the district had a performance audit. The results suggested the district update its strategic plan.
Board member Jo Ellen Myers said she was concerned about how the community members for the steering committee and focus groups were selected. She said parents of the students should have the opportunity to participate in the plan.
“The parents want a voice,” said Myers. “They’re the ones paying the bills.”
District Superintendent Bill Wise said the members were selected based on their expertise in specific areas. They chose representatives from the business sector and the public sectors, as well as educators from colleges such as Columbus State Community College.
Wise said the district has held public input workshops in the past, which allows community members to share ideas and voice concerns.
“We will have more conversations with the community in the future,” said Wise.
Myers suggested posting a survey or questionnaire on the district’s website, which would give parents and residents a say in the strategic plan.
Warner said the focus groups and the steering committee would wrap things up in February when it would be presented to the school board.
“Our goal is to have the strategic plan in place by the 2010/11 school year,” said Warner.
“It was an act of Mother Nature,” said Mark Waller, property services coordinator.
Waller said the fire that broke out at Darbydale Elementary on Nov. 11 was a small methane gas fire, which started in the boiler room. It was contained to a small area, but did extensive damage.
Students went back to school on Nov. 29 and used five calamity days.
Waller said they have installed a new ventilation and gas detection system in the school. The gas detector is now tied to the fire alarm system. They will check the other school buildings for methane leaks as well.
Wise said the staff did a “phenomenal job” with the situation. He also thanked the parents for their patience.
Darbydale houses approximately 300 students.
Lois Rapp, assistant superintendent of curriculum, will resign from South-Western effective Jan. 1, 2011.
“I have enjoyed my time here and will miss the district,” said Rapp.
Rapp has accepted a position as a superintendent with the Department of Defense. Board members wished her well and said they would miss her.
Wise said the district is not in a hurry to fill her position. He said it would take time to find someone with the skill set they need. The district will likely post the position in March of 2011.