Streetsboro school officials believe it will take more than just the work of teachers and administrators to bring the district into the future and are counting on a community-wide effort to help point them in the right direction.
Officials recently invited 130 community members to attend a three-day "Future Search Forum," at which they discussed what they felt should be the immediate and long-range goals of the district.
Nearly 90 participants turned out for the forum, held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at Deluxe Business Systems in Streetsboro, according to Superintendent Mary Linton.
"This was more of a horizontal plan where everyone had equal input," Linton said. "That's the premise, we want comments from the entire community."
During the forum, participants were broken into eight different "stakeholder" groups representing the different segments of the Streetsboro community, including teachers, school support staff, administrators, students, board of education members, parents, and business men and women. There was also a group called "others" that was made up of clergy, community members, government officials and members of civic organizations.
While in those groups, participants were asked to reveal what they feel are the big issues facing the school district now and in the future.
"Eighty-eight people spent 18 hours volunteering to build a common ground," Linton said. "After the weekend was over, people said to me that this helped them get a better understanding of what goes on in the school."
While Linton said there were a number of ideas expressed during the sessions, there were several recurring themes, including Streetsboro's population expansion, ethics and morals in the school and increasing parental involvement.
Linton said that students felt expanding the curriculum, favoritism for certain students and consistency in discipline were issues that need to be addressed.
High school principal Tom Jesse said that as an administrator, he, along with other administrators, are constantly looking at updating the curriculum.
Eleven of the 13 students who were involved in the forum expressed interest in working with community members to expand the school's World Wide Web page.
"The students were very articulate. I was impressed by the quality of things they said," Linton said, adding that she is pleased with the outcome of the forum. "I think we're on the cutting edge of where we need to be, but we've only just begun."
Linton said that the strategic planning won't end with the forum, and the group is planning to meet again in three months
"If I let them down and we didn't meet again, we could never get this kind of momentum going again," she said.
While many of the ideas that came out of the weekend are more long-range plans, Linton said there were several ideas school officials are hoping to implement right away.
One such idea is providing free breakfast to students before proficiency tests. Linton said that studies have shown students can achieve more if they've eaten before a test.
School officials have also begun searching for land with the hope of building new school buildings.
Middle school principal Nancy Hahlen said the forum not only brought forth new ideas, but uplifted the spirits of everyone involved.
"Anyone walking in with negative feelings definitely left with positive ones," she said. "Being new (to the district), I haven't had a chance to meet a lot of people and talk to them, but by the end of the weekend, everyone was on a first name basis."