A good process<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;leads to good plan<BR>

Central School District 13J should be saluted for establishing a strategic plan and planning process that drew on wide-ranging public involvement within the district.

The school board is expected to formally accept the plan at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4.

The process is exemplary. The results provide a road map for building an even stronger educational foundation for students in the years ahead.

With a committee established, the planning process moved to every neighborhood and school community within the district. Hundreds of ideas were heard, noted and eventually many of them were incorporated into the mission statement, a set of commonly accepted precepts, five broad goals and a trio of "boundaries."

Working with and involving all students is a repeated thread throughout the proposed plan:

We believe schools are for everyone.

We will ensure basic skills that prepare all students for next step planning and a competitive advantage.

Schools will keep working with every child in programs that are valuable, successful and relevant.

Out of the process arose a mission statement that should have a long life. One of the problems with mission statements is that they are often too broad to offer any guidance or too narrow to meet the needs of the institution. The Central mission statement appears to find a workable solution when it states:

Central School District will prepare students for the future by understanding and developing their potential to the highest possible academic and ethical standards.

Strategic planning involves a long look ahead. It involves setting goals and establishing standards. It only works when there are two other components involved. The first being the process used by Central involving hundred of district patrons. The second being continual use of the plan as a guide to decision making by the people in authority. At Central that places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Superintendent Forrest Bell and the school board.

With the board's acceptance on Monday, students, staff and residents of the district will benefit from a process that involves everyone in shaping the future of the community and establishes useful goals and parameters to the educational system.


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