ICS strategic plan kick off set for Feb. 18

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 3, 2003

In a manner of speaking, Ironton City School officials are building a new school bus, and they're inviting the public to tinker under the hood first and then get behind the wheel. The destination of the bus depends on where the driver takes it.

Ironton High School Principal Dean Nance, who was on the strategic planning committee, said the kickoff for the city school's strategic plan is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at the high school. The allegory of the school bus is more than apropos.

"This strategic plan is what will 'drive' the district for the next five years," Nance said. "We need people to get involved. This is their opportunity.

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People sometimes complain that the school board didn't ask for any public input or never sought anyone else's ideas. Well, this is it. This is the best chance people have to express their opinion about where the district should be headed."

A 25-member planning committee made up of educators, business people, parents, students and other community members met late last year and established a mission statement and then used that mission statement to establish firm parameters about what the district should and should not do in the future. That 25-member team also created core beliefs, objectives of the strategic plan, and seven areas, or strategies for development.

The outline for the strategic plan was presented twice to the community during public forums at Ohio University Southern in November of last year. At both forums, people were invited to sign up for one of the seven strategic teams with a specific purpose in mind: developing and implementing a comprehensive K-12 integrated computer/technology program; developing an aggressive revenue enhancement program; implementing programs to modernize the district's facilities; implementing in-service programs for all employees and volunteers; creating a career awareness program for all students; developing partnership programs to involve parents and community; and plans to create a unified school district community. Nance said more than 80 people took advantage of the opportunity.

During the kickoff meeting, those who attend for the first time Feb. 18 can select what team they would like to be on.

"We'll have seven rooms assigned, one for each team," Nance said. "People who come that night will get an overview of each team, and then everyone will split up into their teams and get to work. They will be laying the framework for what we do over the next five years. We want as many people in the community involved as we can get."

Ironton parent Tim Johnson, who volunteered for one of the seven teams, said he looks forward to working on the strategic plan. And he hopes once the plan is completed, it will not be allowed to gather dust on an office shelf somewhere.

"I hope from here on out, every decision that is ever made will come from this strategic plan," Johnson said. "I hope it's followed."

Johnson said his biggest concern for the school district is its proficiency test scores. On the 2003 report issued in January, Ironton ranked third among the county's seven school districts. Johnson wants to see an improvement.

"I want to be first," Johnson said. " I'm selfish. I want to see our kids to better than anyone else in the county. We need everyone's participation to make it happen. This is the turning point. We can either keep the status quo or we can do what it takes to make it better."