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November 7, 2011

 

Homer sets goals for school

District, community begin working on strategic plan

SchoolDavid Blatchley/contributing photographer
Homer sixth-grade teacher Kathy Williams places a dot on words voted most significant to the district during one of the break-out sessions held Saturday to brainstorm ideas for a strategic plan the district is developing.

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandardnews.net

HOMER — Like all parents, Michele Whalen says she wants her children’s school district to be the best it can be.
“We all want to make sure students get what they need to be successful in life,” said Whalen, a parent of two children in the Homer school district.
Whalen was one of about 50 parents, administrators, faculty and staff to attend a meeting Saturday at Homer Junior High School to discuss the district’s strategic plan and vision statement.
The district is in the process of making a strategic plan, which will guide its decision-making in the next few years. The district is working with a group from the University of Rochester to develop the plan.
“This is part of a long strategic-planning process,” said Stephen Uebbing, a professor from the University of Rochester. “The first thing you do is bring people together to create a vision.”
At the meeting Saturday, the group of faculty, administrators and parents split into groups to discuss the “power words” they want to see included in the district’s vision statement.
Culture, pride, rigorous and high standards, problem solving and collaboration were among a number of “power words” people said they wanted to see included in the district’s next vision statement.
The Rochester group is compiling a report about the district related to its finances, student enrollment, academics and other areas. Uebbing said the Rochester group would submit the report by December.
Once the report is filed, a 43-person committee, comprising community members, district officials, faculty and others will begin to craft a strategic plan that will be adopted by the school’s Board of Education.
Superintendent of Schools Nancy Ruscio said the goal is to adopt a strategic plan that would go into effect for the 2012-13 school year.
Ruscio said the plan is important because it helps the district decide what its key initiatives will be in the next three to five years.
“The strategic plan provides a central focus,” Ruscio said. “It drives everything.”
The services from the Rochester group cost $36,000, Uebbing said.
Members of the Board of Education, faculty, parents and staff said they thought the meeting went well and liked hearing from their peers.
“It’s important to be a part of the process to come up with a vision we will use in the future,” said Tammy Young, a special education teacher at Homer High School.
Martin Sweeney said the meeting and the plan are all about “clarifying our goals.”
Like Young, Margaret Snogles, a teaching assistant at Homer Junior High School, said she attended the meeting to be a part of the process.
“I just want to see that my kids have every opportunity that we can give to them,” Snogles said.
Uebbing said the strategic plan provides the district with a reference point from which it can make decisions in a variety of areas, from budget and finances to academics and the curriculum. The team from University of Rochester includes professors, retired administrators and graduate students.
“My first impression is that Homer is a very impressive school district,” Uebbing said, citing the district’s faculty staff and leadership.
The team began working with Homer in July. As part of the process, Homer will circulate a community survey during events and on its website so people can provide input.
Megan Greenman, a parent of three children in the district, is on the district’s committee and said she was excited about the strategic plan.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” Greenman said after the meeting. “It’s something to be a part of.”

 

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