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Published: 2/8/2006

Genoa: 2006-07 strategy is outlined

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After two workshop sessions, members of the Genoa Area Local Board of Education have completed the draft of its strategic plan for the 2006-07 school year.

The plan outlines what the board plans to accomplish under six main objectives: communication, curriculum, facilities, finance, staffing-programs, and technology.

Dennis Mock, superintendent of the Ottawa County district, said the objectives have remained the same annually since the first strategic plan was created in 1997, but the goals generally change yearly.

He said he feels the most important goals this year are to maintain the all-day, every-day kindergarten program, continue keeping the numbers of students in kindergarten through second grade below 20, and maintain strong open-enrollment advertising through local newspapers, direct mail, specific audiences, and an open house.

Board President Ernie Cottrell said that for the short-term, his focus also will be to attract open-enrollment students to boost the school's income as well as ensuring that the board works within its budget, which could mean additional cuts.

In the long-term, he said he'd like to consolidate the district's four schools onto one campus. "That's something that I'd really like to accomplish," he said.

Under communication, the board plans to establish an academic hall of fame, submit a board of education column to the school newspaper, and develop a channel of communication with high school student leaders to discuss issues in the schools.

"Students should have a voice, and we should be listening to them," Mr. Mock said. "Hopefully, this will open up that channel."

Under curriculum, the board wants to analyze high school advanced classes and postsecondary opportunities to see if any can be housed in the district so students won't have to drive to local universities.

Members identified additional goals of wanting to assess the elementary school counseling services and continue Ohio Report Card intervention techniques and programs by offering classes in the summer and the spring, either mornings or evenings.

Because the Ohio School Facility Commission has forecast that funding would be available for school buildings in 2008, the board's goals under facilities are to review its district site plan and permanent improvement fund projects.

And until they begin to receive money in 2007 from the levy voters recently approved, the board plans to study operational and staffing efficiencies, implement cost-savings recommendations from the administration, and review levy placement on ballots under their financial objective.

"We still have to cross our t's and dot our i's until that funding comes in," Mr. Mock said.

With the staffing-programs' objective, the board feels the need to evaluate staffing needs because of enrollment decline. The district has 1,532 students this year, 110 fewer students than they had last year overall, and 27 fewer students through open enrollment.

The board would like to staff the elementary-school libraries, which were closed because of lack of funds, and review aspects of the special-education programs and services.

With technology, the board plans to review virtual-learning academy opportunities for all students, create a long-distance learning lab, and explore postsecondary options on campus.

Board members plan to approve the plan formally at their next regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21.

The board waited until after the November election to create the strategic plan because they wanted to see if voters passed a three-year, 3.9-mill tax levy, which they did by 92 votes to help the district avoid a projected deficit.

They levy is estimated to raise about $600,000 a year.



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