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District contemplating $7K ‘educational planning’ tool

By Staff | Apr 21, 2008

School board members will have a month before deciding whether to spend several thousands of dollars to develop a strategic plan for Blue Earth Area School District.

In September 2005, $5,000 was approved for a facilities study and $10,000 was spent last year on a community survey to gather “perceptions” of the district’s taxpayers.

For the 2007-08 school year, district officials also used a school improvement consultant to development a plan aimed at improving student achievement in all schools.

Now, school officials are considering spending $5,000-$7,000 to have Minnesota State University develop an “educational” planning tool.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says the district has lot of information that needs to be assembled into one document.

“We have these components. Now let’s bring all these together,” he says. “Looking at the big picture, they are all an integral part of our plan.”

For nearly one hour, Jean Haar, director for the Center of Engaged Leadership at Minnesota State University in Mankato, and Jerry Robicheau, an associate professor at Minnesota State, presented benefits of having such a plan and answered questions during a power-point presentation.

“It will be your road map. It will give an understanding of what is happening in your schools and what they should look like,” says Robicheau.

However, boardmember Terry Cahill wonders what the new document provides that the facility study and survey does not. “There’s no question of what our needs and goals are. What aren’t we getting that this is going to bring to the table that is going to make us a better district?” Cahill asked the board.

Robicheau says the plan would address priorities identified by district officials and would not cover more than a five-year period.

“It’s a dynamic document, continually evolving and proactive. Every year you will have some kind of strategy that needs to be addressed,” Robicheau says, adding that declining enrollment can impact the plan.

The MSU consultants say focus groups will be used when they start putting the plan together. Students, bus drivers, staff, administration, businesses and others would be contacted, they said.

Boardmember Vickie Hanson says she hopes input and feedback from the public would be part of the focus groups.

“As a district I think we’ve done a better job in including our staff (for input) rather than our communities,” says Hanson.

Cahill made a motion to table action on the matter until the May board meeting.

“I don’t like getting information at one meeting and not getting input from the public or not having discussion on it,” he says.

If the board votes in favor of a plan, MSU officials anticipate having a document completed by January.