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Otsego schools set to discuss feedback

Public forums slated to develop strategic plan

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Otsego Local Schools superintendent Adam Koch said school officials will use survey data and forums to create a strategic plan to guide the district’s next three to five years.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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TONTOGANY — Otsego Local Schools will host community forums today and Tuesday to gather community feedback as the district develops a strategic plan.

The public forums are intended to provide further detail about surveys that asked students, staff, alumni, parents, and community members their thoughts about the district.

The surveys also asked respondents to rank the importance of various district functions — from academics to athletics and extracurricular activities.

Superintendent Adam Koch said school officials will use survey data and forums to create a strategic plan to guide the district’s next three to five years.

“The goal is to reiterate to our community and parents that they do have a voice and that we do listen to our stakeholders, and we’re one community, and we want to move forward together,” he said.

About 700 people responded to the surveys, which will help the district identify priorities.

Mr. Koch said an initial review of surveys showed largely positive feedback. One area emerged as an area of key interest among all respondents.

“They want us to continue to put our resources into the instruction and additional course offerings,” he said, mentioning advanced placement classes as an example.

School board President Brad Anderson said a contentious decision several years ago to consolidate elementary schools in Weston, Haskins, and Grand Rapids into a new elementary school in Tontogany continues to upset some in the district, though “most people are moving forward.”

The district is situated in portions of Wood, Lucas, and Henry counties.

“We’re looking just to get the community involved with some of the changes that have taken place in Otsego,” he said. “We want them ... to feel like we’re listening, that we’re following through.”

The decision to develop a strategic plan was not done in direct response to any specific situation, Mr. Koch said.

The work eventually could lead to discussion of a funding proposal to put before taxpayers, but he said there’s no election date scheduled.

Survey results and forum feedback will drive plans for finances, building maintenance, curriculum, and course offerings, he said.

A committee that includes members representing students, parents, community members, board members, and administrators will meet to work on the strategic plan in February.

Mr. Koch hopes to have a finished plan, which the school board would adopt, by the end of the school year.

That document and the survey results will be available to review online.

“I think it’s a really good step to try to get the public’s opinion on everything,” said Jason Worthen, Weston mayor.

He said the district dropped off surveys to the village hall and library.

The 1,600-student district has a roughly $13 million operating budget.

Today’s forums take place at 5:30 p.m. at Haskins Town Hall, 100 N. Church St. in Haskins, and at 7:15 p.m. at the Otsego High School library, 18505 Tontogany Creek Rd. in Tontogany.

Tuesday’s forums will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Weston Public Library, 13153 Main St. in Weston, and at 7:15 p.m. at the library’s Grand Rapids Branch, 17620 Bridge St. in Grand Rapids.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com, 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

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