District survey to measure community's desire to help
By Tom Larson
"Strategic planning" can be a somewhat daunting term, but in the Morris Area School District, it really means figuring out how to do what's best for students and staff.
The district's committee is made up of School Board members Lory Lemke and Dick Metzger, and Superintendent Scott Monson. The committee began meeting about four years ago for an hour before regular board meetings.
The committee is part of the district's overall attempt to plan for the future and how to accomplish goals within an ever-changing budget.
"There are always good things going on in the school," Lemke said. "But we're trying to organize it, get a systematic program in place."
As part of the committee's planning, the district is distributing a volunteer skills and talents survey among district residents, seeking information that will help the district identify more people who can contribute to activities and programs.
Residents can let the district know their areas of expertise, interest and talent and indicate if they would like to contribute.
"People can get involved," Monson said. "The community partnership with the district is important, and we want to let people know you don't have to have money to participate in helping the district. It will strengthen the district and help people realize how many good things are going on in the classroom."
The survey was sent home with students, or district residents can find a copy at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/QHLQSVG.
The Sun Tribune also has a copy of the survey accompanying this story.
Residents also can contact Sharon Rae Martin, the district's Community Partnership Coordinator, at (320) 589-4840.
Putting together a database of volunteers is one way of streamlining the process.
"That way we can match up a need with someone who has the skills and schedule to work with that," Monson said.
The relationships could be beneficial for everyone. The community learns more about - and gets more involved with - the school district, and students gain mentors and more information about possible career paths, Metzger said.
"There are a lot of opportunities, especially for retired people," Metzger said. "Maybe there are engineers, farmers, business people - there are highly technical people out there that could offer a lot to students. The opportunity for social interaction with students is invaluable for both sides."
The district's Strategic Planning committees and their work is not too dependent on money. That's an important aspect of their work since the state's current and future budget projections don't bode well for school funding.
"If a big budget crisis comes, strategic planning could lead us through that myriad of decisions," Monson said. "We can made the best decisions based on what the money allows. Districts have to continue to work smarter and strategic planning is one way that we can keep working smarter."