Archive for September, 2009

Improving Communication

September 30, 2009

Another topic I’m hearing a lot about is communication.  While things have definitely gotten better, there are still opportunities to improve communication between the district and the community.

First of all, I believe the community is everyone in our community.  The school board cannot just focus on the public school students & their families – the public schools have to exist within community means and desires.  Of course, our community wants excellent schools.  But we want them at a price we can afford, and we need to be sure the district is spending the tax dollars we provide responsibly.

I believe the main problem is in the attitude: that the board members are elected “for the kids” and not “for the community.” The job is both – and to balance both for the benefit of all.

So how do we solve the problem of getting information out to the community?  And who’s responsibility is it – the district’s to promote the information, or the community’s to actively seek it?

The answer is “both,” but I believe the district, and especially the board, must make every effort to disseminate information in a variety of ways that are easy to access and digest.  There are various “groups” in our district:  public school families; private school families; those with grown children; those with no children; retirees; young people.  Each will have a preferred way of receiving information.  We need to figure out what these are and determine if we can accommodate them.  Sure, we can mail information to people:  but will it get read?  We can post information on the website:  but will people visit regularly, especially if they do not have children currently in the school?

I believe this is a huge challenge we need to focus on immediately.

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Enhancing Education

September 30, 2009

Speaking of giving our students the best education possible, there is quite a bit of untapped potential by partnering with organizations, businesses and individuals to identify and develop new programs.  I’ve talked quite a bit about the Kings Local program that combines academics, information and community support in one program.  Last night, I talked with a chemist who had to take early retirement from his job.  He has done a number of programs in the schools for both chemistry and physics classes, and he hopes to put together a program he can do on his own.  I’ve put together two programs to support 6th grade writing:  a persuasive essay column contest in conjunction with the Advertiser & about a dozen community members that last year (and hopefully again this year) was part of all the elementary schools’ honors curriculum (requires no funding); and an extra-curricular, self-funded newspaper program where the kids write & publish their own newspaper.

There are other ways the community is supporting our schools as well.  For instance, Milford Christian Church gave bags of classroom supplies to each elementary teacher at the start of this school year.

There are lots more examples out there that I just don’t know about.  What have you heard about?  What ideas do you have?  As we face more uncertainty with budgets, the more support we can receive from partnerships, the better off we will be.

Join the Discussion!

September 30, 2009

Hi everyone!  I had tried to start a discussion group on facebook, but for some reason only registered facebook users could post.  Therefore, I’m starting this blog as a way to try to generate more back-and-forth with people regarding the Milford School District and public schools in general.

So, our first topic … if you haven’t seen today’s front page article, Ohio schools could face huge budget cuts due to the state’s Supreme Court ruling that slot machines must be voted on before being implemented.  Gov. Strickland had counted on almost $1 billion for schools, which now may not materialize – and which is delayed at least 6 months no matter what.  In addition, a budget decrease could mean a loss in federal stimulus matching funds, resulting in a cut of about $1.7 billion across the state – 10.31% this fiscal year (through June 30, 2010) and 15.74% next fiscal.

I just heard from Randy Seymour, Milford’s treasurer.  The ODE & the governor are stressing no cuts will be made yet.  However, if they are made, they will start next fiscal year (school year 2010-11).  One scenario would cut only in FY11, the other in both FY11 and FY12.

There has also been a report that the governor may delay the promised tax break, which could generate quite a bit.  Will it be used for the schools?  If so, that could prevent the current deficit.

Even if the governor finds the funds to balance the budget in the short term, this is a wake-up call for all of us:  we must prepare now before state cuts and a weak local economy put us right back into financial distress.  We need to work diligently & quickly to find efficiencies and new ways to deliver strong education to our students.

** The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of MEVSD and/or other Milford School Board members.**