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BOE weighs survey results


The Hays USD 489 Board of Education is considering how to use the strategic planning initiative prepared in March 2012 by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs.

The board contracted with the Docking Institute to conduct surveys and facilitate two planning sessions at a cost of $6,500 and develop mid-range goals for the next five years.

Superintendent Will Roth asked the board at Monday's work session for a preliminary discussion about using the information compiled from the surveys and planning sessions.

The planning initiative "got community input and was off and running. It hasn't been very useful to us," Roth said.

Two surveys, an Internet survey of parents, faculty and staff with 1,058 responses, and a random phone survey of 418 adults living within the school district's boundaries were conducted. The random phone survey had a 65 percent response rate. Both surveys solicited opinions and ideas for future planning.

Docking Institute Executive Director Gary Brinker and Mike Walker, assistant director, facilitated two planning sessions for the board and administrators.

With input from the surveys, they identified the district's strengths and weaknesses. Strengths included academic success and quality teachers and administrators. Some weaknesses were class sizes and too much reliance on parent organizations for funding.

Opportunities mentioned were economic stability and community support. The community's perception of cuts to music programs and rising health care costs were listed as threats to the district.

Goals were prioritized from the lists generated by the survey, and the group developed strategies and action plans that had board members leading task forces or committees.

Goals included improving facilities, appropriate class sizes, managing health care costs, professional development and retaining quality staff.

The district has moved ahead with a facilities study and facility needs committee, but has made no mention of the other goals identified.

Roth suggested Monday night that, to make a usable plan, it might be better if the strategic plan was carried out by staff and administration.

"Our (strategic plans) have a board member in charge of each goal. If we were in charge, we'd be accountable for moving forward with the strategic plan," Roth said.

Roth said the plan has good content, and administrators likely could rework it to "put into a more usable (form) with dates."

"I'd like to have that if nothing else as a starting point," Board President Darren Schumacher said Monday.

Board Vice President Greg Schwartz agreed it would be better for staff to take the lead, but "it might be better to have somebody come in and guide us. I'd like to hire a professional, somebody that's done it before."