(Posted March 21, 2016)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Madison-Plains Local Schools leaders have prepared a strategic plan and are ready to go forth into the community to talk about the district and its future needs.
This strategic plan, much like what businesses develop to promote their products and services, outlines the district’s strengths and challenges, as well as goals to be met by specific deadlines. It was developed by a 25-member committee of school board members, community leaders, students, district Treasurer Todd Mustain and Superintendent Tim Dettwiller.
“This is what Mr. Mustain and I will work from as we go into the community to talk to residents,” Dettwiller said of the document that ultimately leads toward a levy request.
The district is spending more than it is taking in, according to Mustain’s monthly reports. So far, the district has had a balance from previous years to carry over and keep the district afloat, but Dettwiller says he sees 2019 as the financial cliff.
“We’ve been pushing it out there as far as we can,” he said.
Emphasizing fiscal responsibility is one of the strengths the committee listed in its report, developed over three meetings in late February.
One of the three goals is to create financial guidelines next year to determine when to seek funding. Dettwiller and Mustain are charged with developing a 10-year financial plan by January 2017 to be reviewed every year.
A second goal is to improve the retention of quality staff to 95 percent by 2019 and involves union leaders and staff members working with the administration. The third goal is to improve community relationships. A community survey is to be taken every spring, starting in May.
The plan lists good staff, parents, students, administration, and community as among the district’s strengths. The committee also stated that the district:
- enjoys a safe learning environment;
- embraces a culture of continuous improvement;
- enjoys close proximity to an urban center, yet has a small town/rural setting;
- obtains quality resources for students and teachers to support the curriculum and learning; and
- allows voices to be heard.
Having one campus was listed as a strength and a challenge.
The plan also lists the following as among the district’s challenges:
- the need to move forward and not stay stuck in the past;
- a challenging tax base—half of the revenue comes from the state and the other half from local funds;
- an increase in socio-economic population;
- district geographic size and decentralization;
- declining enrollment—the district has half the number of students it did in 1969;
- deficit spending;
- problems with zoning/development;
- trouble with retaining quality staff;
- a need to improve athletic programs;
- aging facilities;
- the community’s perception of the district; and
- the need to improve communication with the greater community.
The committee stated that quality education is the foundation for success in life. With that in mind, they stated that the school district is obligated to “maximize the community’s resources so that we develop the talents and abilities of our students” and to “maximize the com-munity’s resources so that we develop the talents and abilities of our staff.”