Continuing the Great Conversation for Our Schools

Continuing the Great Conversation for Our Schools
Posted on 09/17/2014

One way to determine the success of any organization is to evaluate how well a company’s resources are aligned with the goals and expectations that have been established for achieving its mission. Although our school district is a public non-profit institution, the same measure of success could certainly be applied. In Menomonie, our school board members have been elected to work on the difficult task of setting policy and hiring a staff that results in a school system that meets the expectations set forth by the country, state, and our local community.

Like leaders in many organizations, when setting goals and making decisions, the Board and administration in the School District of the Menomonie Area continue to engage a variety of stakeholders that includes parents, students, business leaders, staff, and community members. Through open meetings, public forums, and other more informal communications, school district officials continue to solicit community input and encourage feedback from individuals and groups who have an interest in our schools. Another useful tool that has been used to help align resources with expectations in the Menomonie Area School District is strategic planning. 

Recent history of strategic planning in the SDMA includes a process that was named “The Great Conversation”, where school district leaders conducted seventeen different listening sessions with over 500 members of the community. “The Great Conversation” led to the adoption of a new district strategic plan in the fall of 2012, and many of the goals set forth by the plan have already been accomplished. Work toward the goals identified during the strategic planning process is continuing, and it is being led by task teams in each of the six areas of the plan. An annual review of the plan is conducted each November, and recent reviews note that progress has been made in all areas.

The six strategic areas identified by our community and school district stakeholders during “The Great Conversation” include:

  • Learning Experience: An emphasis on strengthening curriculum, instruction, assessment, and accountability systems in the district.
    Technology: An emphasis on the integration of technology.
  • Facilities: An emphasis on developing a vision and plan for the future of our facilities.
  • Personnel: An emphasis on providing highly effective staff.
  • Resources: An emphasis on maximizing available resources.
  • Public Engagement: An emphasis on enhancing and expanding partnerships and public relations.

What are the next steps for continuing “The Great Conversation”? 

In the past two years there have been many changes in our schools and community.  While our mission, vision, and core values still guide the progress of our school district, it is important to periodically evaluate the priorities that were established in 2012.  In order to identify where more work might be needed and what parts of the plan might need updating, the facilitators for the six strategic areas will each schedule a town hall style meeting to further discuss the goals and actions related to that part of the strategic plan. The two main items that these meetings will focus on include celebrating what has been accomplished and prioritizing the updated short-term and long-term goals.  A modified plan with updated goals and actions based on new information and feedback from community stakeholders will be developed for school board consideration.

The schedule for the town hall meetings related to the various strategic areas will be as follows:

Technology: Sept. 29 - 4:00 pm, ASC
Learning Experience: Sept. 29 - 5:00 pm, ASC
Resources: Sept. 30 - 4:30 pm, ASC
Facilities: Oct. 1 - 5:30 pm, MHS Library
Public Engagement: Oct. 7 - 4:30 pm, ASC
Personnel: Oct. 7 - 5:30 pm, ASC

In addition to attendance by the task teams, school district stakeholders are welcome and encouraged to attend any and all the town hall meetings. A summative report will be presented to the school board at a meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 24, 2014. Should anyone wish to provide additional input, or if you are unable to attend the scheduled meetings, please feel free to send your comments to my attention at the Administrative Service Center located at 215 Pine Avenue NE in Menomonie.