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Albany districts plans for the long-term

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GINA R. HEINE
August 22, 2008
— Too often, committees spend months on strategic planning only to have the results tucked away in a giant binder, Albany District Administrator Steve Guenther said.

But he said that won’t happen in the Albany School District.


Administrators and the school board want to develop a long-term plan for the district through a series of meetings and surveys next week.


“We’ll be done in two to three days,” Guenther said.


The community can get involved by attending a forum Tuesday night to provide input. A free dinner will be served, and information gathering will begin afterward.


“Part of the reason we’re doing it is because you could guess what you think the community wants or how they feel about the district ... but until you actually get them down and get those feelings down on the table, it’s pretty hard to guess,” Guenther said. “And I don’t want to be the guy that guessed wrong.”


Administrators hope to get input from the community on the following questions to help form the plan:


-- What has the district done well?


-- What could use improvement?


-- What do they want the district to look like?


-- What are the district’s immediate priorities?


The district is paying about $7,000 on a contract with Bruce Miles of Big River Consulting Group to assist with the plan. Miles has been working with several other small, rural school districts to develop similar plans.


The last couple summers, the board has developed goals to provide direction, “but it didn’t seem to us like we were getting deep enough and comprehensive enough,” Guenther said.


Planning focused on short-term ideas. Now the group wants to focus on the big picture to determine what the district should look like in five to 10 years.


Some of the biggest issues Guenther hopes are discussed Tuesday are buildings/grounds maintenance and the general direction the community wants to see students take.


He’d like to see what kind of community commitment is present in maintaining the building. At some point in the next five to 10 years, roofs will need work and the boiler is getting old, he said.


Those could be big-ticket items, but if the commitment is there, then it would be worth taking to referendum, he said.


Guenther also wants to know what people think about the district’s focus. Is the district focused on getting everyone to college? Or should it be focused on sending some to vocational/technical schools?


“In the end, we’ll really have pretty dynamic and comprehensive information to draw from to develop the goals,” Guenther said. “Some of them might be short-term things. It might be, ‘Let’s get a new roof,’ all the way up to wanting something that could transcend multiple years or generations.”


To get involved
The Albany School District is seeking input on its future from its staff, parents and alumni through an online survey, available at www.albany.k12.wi.us/.
If you go

The district also will gather feedback from the community at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the school, 400 Fifth St., Albany.


The meeting should last about two hours, and a free dinner for attendees also will be available from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria. The meeting will include small group discussions to gather input on the district’s future.


Daycare will be available. Parents should call (608) 862-3225 to reserve a spot.



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