Lanesboro School has been working on its five-year strategic plan since November; at the regular February board meeting, Superintendent Matt Schultz presented the current version of the new strategic plan. The board has had two meetings and a public forum on the plan.
The plan consists of four points: continuing a strong core education with opportunities for broad experiences, focusing supports to meet academic, behavioral, and emotional needs, engaging students and families through connection and communication, forward-thinking educational, workforce, and facilities planning.
Schultz shared that they felt the Lanesboro School’s strength has always been a strong core education; the school offers an assortment of class choices in addition for students to choose from.
Intervention strategies and focusing dollars to meet academic, behavioral, and emotional needs of each student with programs such as Empower You and Second Steps were mentioned as a second part of the plan.
Communication and engaging students and families through connection has been stressed by the public. Schultz shared that the school would be migrating to a new app, Apptegy, a phone-based website to help in this communication. With Apptegy, Schultz feels that people will feel more connected to the school. It will be easier for teachers and staff to post and share information in a Facebook type format. People using phones and iPads will be able to more easily navigate the app to find calendars, sports schedules, and other information. Users could customize the push notifications from the school.
The fourth point of the plan is to become more forward thinking. This would entail better facilities planning as well as retaining and recruiting quality staff as the school plans for the future needs. Schultz informed the board that currently the school was working to carve out two more classrooms from previous storage space. He added that they needed to work on long-term plans regarding the school size and what they can manage.
Schultz stressed that the four items of the plan are the starting point to “develop our road map.” The building goals will come from the plan; teachers will set their individual goals based on the building goals.
The last time strategic goals were set they were more specific with facilities at the forefront for goals. This time the goals are broader. Schultz offered that he could put together more specifics on this plan and present them at the next meeting.
Board member Steve Snyder appreciated the plan, “We are more forward-thinking than we were in the past.”
Sarah Peterson thought it would be good to see more specifics before approving the plan. The board tabled the plan until the March meeting to give Schultz time to prepare the information.
The mission statement will remain the same: “Empowering our students by providing a quality education to ensure lifelong success in an ever changing world.”
During the public comment period of the meeting, several people had asked for details on the progress of the strategic plan. Tamara DeGarmo was looking for feedback on the plan as well as information on how to communicate with the school and staff and how to get feedback from the staff. She was concerned that no exit interviews had been held following the exodus of staff last year.
Bonita Underbakke also asked how the strategic plan was coming. She stated, “Measurable goals are meetable goals,” as she asked for such measurable goals at the school.
Stephanie Ferschweiler thanked the board for the improvement in her son’s educational experience this year. She appreciated the effort of the school in mental health and special education services. Ferschweiler shared that she’s hoping to officially establish a parent group to support the school and asked for direction in the path to take in creating a PTA or a more informal PTO.
Ollie Lepper suggested that the school reevaluate the use of semester tests. She felt students were coming to school when they were ill to avoid needing to take semester tests since students with more absences need to test. She felt it was unfair that PSEO students were not held to the same standards. Students who were not required to take semester tests did not attend school the two days the tests were administered. There was no email to parents about this to inform them. She felt more information should have been shared since half of the high school had not taken semester tests previously due to the pandemic.
Schultz will be in communication with the people who spoke to answer their concerns. Many of the concerns relate directly to the goals of the strategic plan.
In other business the school board:
• Heard a presentation from Deb Marcotte, executive director of HVED; she detailed the vast array of services and teachers provided to the 13 schools that make up HVED;
• Learned the long-awaited fixed solar panels have been installed over the daycare and installers have moved on to the gym roof; the deadline for the work is March 1;
• Heard from Schultz that currently there are over 2,000 bills in the legislature with impact on schools including SPED funding, universal school meals, unemployment benefits for staff, and a TRA teacher retirement proposal.
The next meeting of the Lanesboro School Board will be at 7 p.m. on March 8 in the forum room; the public is welcome to attend.