Thursday, November 6, 2003
Donna Howell hopes the success of focus forums she initiated with several Steamboat Springs School District stakeholder groups will continue next week, when she will meet with parents and staff from both elementary schools.
Howell, the superintendent of the 1,900-student district, is using the forums to engage the community in setting the direction of the district for the next several years. She has met with representatives from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, all three commissions of the Education Fund Board and district bus drivers.
Howell expects increased participation next week during evening meetings at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools.
"We're hoping for broad representation from parents, staff members and community members who do not have children in the schools," Howell said Thursday.
The Soda Creek meeting will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday at the school. A meeting at Strawberry Park will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Community members unable to attend either of those meetings are encouraged to attend meetings scheduled for Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 at the middle school and high school, respectively.
A general forum also is scheduled for Dec. 4 at the George P. Sauer Human Services Center.
Participants at the forums will be asked three questions: what factors have an impact on education, what the district needs to do in the next three to five years to prepare its students for the future and what two or three things participants would change about the district.
Input from each focus forum will be given to a planning committee comprised of representatives from each stakeholder group, Howell said. The committee will meet Dec. 16 to develop goals and priorities to guide the district over the next several years.
Howell also wants the meetings to renew a sense of community ownership in the district, similar to what occurred after the 10 + 2 Committee forums in the mid-1990s.
Bringing the community together relative to its public schools has been one of Howell's goals since she took office last summer. The timing of the forums is appropriate given turnover in the School Board and the release of a communication audit of the district by the National Schools Public Relations Association, Howell said.
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