Danville schools hope for input at forums

May 10, 2004|HERB BROCK

It might not generate the excitement of a Danville-Boyle County football game, but to leaders of the city school district, the development of the system's new strategic plan is even more important than the gridiron rivalry. And while they don't expect standing room only crowds, they are hoping for good turnouts at two public forums.

The administration and Danville Board of Education want to get input not only from parents, teachers and community leaders, they also are making a special effort to pick the brains of current students and young people who recently were in the system.

The first forum will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Danville High School cafeteria, and the second will be May 18 at the same time and place. People who have served on previous planning committees and have attended various public forums hosted by the school board and administration have been given special invitations to attend either or both of the community forums.


But that's not all. The district leaders also will hold a special forum for Bate Middle School students at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Bate and one for DHS students at 1:30 p.m. May 18 at DHS.

Recent DHS graduates also will be involved in the process. Some 118 members of the classes of 1999-2003 have been invited to attend special sessions for them at 5:30 p.m. both days.

"We want to get input from as many people as we can from as many sectors and segments of the Danville school community involved in this very important process, and that includes not only adult leaders of the community and parents and teachers but also current and former students," said David Davis, director of administrative services for the district.

"We believe there are a lot of people in this community who can provide valuable input, and that includes the young people who are now in our schools and who recently attended them," he said.

All those attending the public and special forums will be invited to give their opinions about all aspects of the district, from academic to athletics, from discipline to special programs, from personnel to facilities.

"We will essentially be asking people what they think is working in the district, what's good about it, and where we need to improve," Davis said.

All the forums, for the graduates and current students as well as the community sessions, will be directed by forum facilitator Tim Holt of the Kentucky School Boards Association. Davis will serve as internal facilitator for the faculty, staff, administration and board. All comments will be recorded and included as an appendage to the plan.

This first phase of the strategic plan development process also will involve the recruitment of people to volunteer to serve on the 25-member team that will oversee the drafting of the plan. Those attending the community and special forums will be invited to apply for a position.

The administration and board will select members of the plan team that reflect the district's demographics in terms of race, age, gender and profession. It likely will include men and women, whites, African-Americans and Hispanics, business people, factory workers, school people, government employees and retirees, as well as teachers, parents and students.

"We are looking for a cross-section of people who represent the diversity of people, professions and backgrounds who live in our district," said Davis. "We also are looking for people who will have the time and can put in the effort."

Those people not selected for the plan team will have another avenue for being involved. Volunteers will be needed to serve on action teams. These groups will be charged with developing specific plans to implement each section of the plan.

Like earlier blueprints used by the district's administration and board, the new strategic plan will set out goals and objectives for the next five to seven years and provide strategies for meeting them. The plan also will include a mission statement.

For example, the current plan includes six broad goals and objectives plus secondary goals and strategies for meeting them, Davis said. Among the goals that the administration and board either have made or made significant progress toward meeting, he said, are a revision of the kindergarten-12th grade curriculum; upgrading the technology program at all schools "to an advanced degree"; efforts to narrow the "achievement gap" in the performance of black and white students in the classroom and on standardized tests; and upgrading professional staff development programs.

The timetable for development of the plan calls for the plan team to have a first draft completed by the end of September, an action plan worked on between October and January, and the final draft ready for a vote of the school board in April.

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