Collier School District holds first meeting to get community feedback on strategic planning

— One small step to get them there, one giant leap for the Collier County School District.

Hoping to develop a plant that would guide the schools for the next three years, the Collier County School District began its long-range strategic planning and community engagement process.

After the Collier County School Board held a strategic planning meeting Oct. 1 to discuss some of the major areas of interest to board members and district officials, the district sent invitations to 40 community members for input and to help narrow the ideas that will be included in the three-year plan.

Those people began their work Monday evening and included school principals, parents, community members, community leaders and school staff.

School Board Chairwoman Pat Carroll said she was enthusiastic about the process.

“This is a dynamic group. You don’t have to give your time the way you do, but because you are, it shows me you know the value of the process,” she said. “We are, as far as I’m concerned, setting history. I think we have a marvelous journey ahead of us.”

David Moore, vice president of Collective Collaborations Group the Washington D.C.-based organization facilitating planning process, said the purpose of the session is to craft a vision, mission and goals for the school district.

“We started work with the board and now we are expanding that work to get more input, which we will use to craft a statement,” he said. “Then we will have community focus groups to come up with what we will do as a district.”

Superintendent Dennis Thompson said the initiative will help the district have a plan to move forward.

“We need your creative solutions and your focus, which will culminate in a plan next June that will determine how we utilize our resources in the district,” he said.

Moore asked the participants to write down a statement of what they would tell someone about the district in five years.

Chief Instructional Officer Martha Hayes said more students than ever would be enrolled in post-secondary institutions.

Community member John Paul said his son would be in first grade in five years. He said he hoped his son would come home challenged.

Immokalee Technical Center Principal Dorin Oxender said achievement gaps would be disappearing.

Moore put up eight elements as a starting place for the vision of the school, including teachers, school culture, community, engaged students and resources.

Seven of the elements were discussed as the participants broke up into two smaller groups.

The last element involved things the group could see in the next 12 months that would show that the schools were getting better.

Participants said their indicators included less truancy; the lowest quartile closing the achievement gap on things such as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT); more collaboration from all levels; an increased graduation rate and fewer dropouts; and minority students doing better.

“Pride. Lots of pride. It sounds like everyone has the best school. Everyone has the best job and everyone thinks the schools are doing a great job,” said Chief Operations Officer Michele LaBute.

The committee will hold its next meeting on Nov. 18.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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