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 CAB Advisory Group Will Examine Facility Needs

April 1, 2009 - The Charles A. Beard School Board has been asked to consider hiring an Indianapolis educational consulting firm to help form and facilitate a community advisory panel that will assess the school corporation’s facility needs.

At the outset of a special strategic planning meeting on March 23, the school board heard a presentation from two representatives from Educational Services Company. The board had voted just a week earlier, at its March 17 monthly meeting, to hire ESC consultants to help CAB address employee health insurance issues.

The board had also voted at its March 17 meeting to give Superintendent Gary Storie permission to form a community advisory panel to look at CAB’s facility needs and make recommendations to the school board. At last week’s strategic planning meeting, Storie said he thought ESC’s experience and expertise in this area would be a benefit and help facilitate a dialogue between the community and CAB.

ESC’s Don Dyck said his firm would help with formation of the advisory panel, then help facilitate the panel’s efforts to reach consensus on CAB’s facility needs and strategies for addressing them. He said the process would be transparent and designed to meet CAB’s specific needs.

“We don’t wnat your community to have to adapt to our process,” Dyck said. “We’ll adapt to you. ... You know better than we do what works best with you.”

Dyck told the school board that his firm usually likes to work with a group of 20 to 30 people from the community for anywhere from five to eight months, depending on the issues being addressed. However, he said some groups had been as small as six members, while others had more than 80.

An important part of the process, Dyck said, is learning how to listen and understand “for the sake of getting consensus.” Board Vice President Steve Dalton expressed concern about the difficulty of getting consensus from a group that size and noted that consensus reached may not be in line with what school board members want.

Dyck told Dalton it would be important for the school board “to be attentive” to what the advisory panel is doing. If the panel is moving in a direction board members feel is not useful, he said those concerns should be voiced as they arise.

Dalton asked Dyck if ESC had dealt with situations where a school board opted not to follow the recommendations of a community advisory panel or committee. Saying he could not recall any, Dyck did note there had been times when a committee had been unable to reach a consensus and a “minority report” was filed along with the majority’s recommendations.

With the school board just now engaging in the early steps of strategic planning, board member Tom Schaetzle asked if it were premature to hire ESC consultants at this point. Dyck replied that he thought his firm’s involvement would probably be “pretty timely.”

Dyck said that ESC would be paid a flat fee -- to be determined once CAB decides what services they want ESC to provide -- instead of an hourly consulting rate like the firm is charging for its work on the health insurnance issue. The school board made no decision at last week’s meeting on whether to hire ESC to help with the advisory panel and facility needs issues.

“We don’t have the time to be as thorough as these guys are going to be,” Schaetzle said later in the meeting, after Dyck and his ESC associate had left. “We don’t have the expertise.”

“I’ve never seen ... really effective governance and decision making come from that number of people,” Dalton said, again expressing his concern over an advisory panel as large as Dyck had mentioned. Dalton also said he had received some negative feedback regarding the operation of the committee that was formed to get community input prior to construction of Knightstown High School.

Dalton said he thought those who made decisions made about KHS “ran the bus off into a ditch.” He said decisions favoring the arts were made at the expense of athletics, and that the current school board needs to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

While he said he would like see documentation of decisions the previous committee had made --and how they were made -- Schaetzle said he thought it would be a mistake to “go back and rehash” that whole process. “Let’s put that behind us and just keep going,” he said.

Schaetzle did say he would like to observe ESC consultants in action working for another school corporation. Storie agreed that was a good idea.

In other business at last week’s special meeting, the school board continued its strategic planning efforts, picking up where it had left off at a meeting held Feb. 23. Board members came up with the following belief statements for the Personnel category that is part of their planning framework:

      *Educators are leaders, and as such, their role is to inspire students to learn and to achieve master of educational material.

      *Personnel should help foster relationshipis that help students build hope and confidence in themselves and their future.

      *All personnel, regardless of position, are accountable for the success of the corporation.

      *Professional development and job training aare essential to successful education of students.

Storie said board member Tim Wehr had noted that the lack of planning categories that deal specifically with transportation, or nutrition and other health and safety issues. Wehr said he believed these issues were just as important, for example, as extracurricular activities, which have their own separate category.

At Storie’s suggestion, the board did away with Community Relations as a separate planning category. It will be replaced with one that addresses safety and nutrition concerns, with community relations being addressed, as needed, within the other established categories.

The school board has tentatively scheduled its next two strategic planning meetings for Wednesday, April 8, and Wednesday, April 29, at 6 p.m. at CAB’s central office, 345 N. Adams St., Knightstown. Persons wishing to attending these public meetings are encouraged to call CAB at 345-5101 to confirm date, time and location.

 

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