D-11 begins shaping future strategy

       District 11 is moving forward with a four-phase staff plan to develop a strategy for better use of district facilities over the next several years.
       The end game will be a proposal going to the Board of Education in February. Westside education is likely to be affected by any board action, which, based on discussion in recent weeks, could mean multiple schools being closed, consolidated and/or separated from magnet programs.
       Developing a draft plan (to be written this month) is Phase 1. The time between now and February (Phase 4) will consist of district administrators getting feedback from school principals and staff (in December - Phase 2) and from the community (in January - Phase 3), according to Mike Poore, a district deputy superintendent.
       The effort will feature a specially appointed “Steering Committee,” chaired by Poore, which will have about 20 members and consist of D-11 administrators, employees, community members and consultants.
       One of the Steering Committee members is Welling Clark, a Westside business owner, engineer and president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN).
       “This isn't just a rubber-stamper-type group,” Poore said. “It will challenge us and help us move forward on good thinking and good process.”
       Poore explained that the committee effort was necessary because building-reutilization consultants this fall “made recommendations, but didn't package them into a delivery that the board could vote on.” One of the consultants, former district administrator John Kerr, will be on the committee. He is being paid $20,000 to help prepare the necessary documentation.
       Poore is proud of the community outreach of the four-phase plan. “What's unique is that we're trying to get numerous hands involved in this,” he said, pointing out that the goal is to have a sensible, step-by-step plan in which all the changes won't occur right away and may require up to five years in all.
       The study was contracted after the school board rejected a staff money-saving proposal last spring to close two small schools (including the Westside's Pike Elementary). The board called for a long-range policy to guide such decisions. In any case, some action is needed, district officials believe, because D-11 is losing enrollment and starting to feel a financial pinch.
       Certain perceived efficiencies would impact the Westside's magnet schools. Poore cited as examples Midland's IB program and Bristol's art program, which do not feed to Westside middle schools. And, Poore said, not many students now go from Midland to North Middle School's IB program or from Bristol to Russell Middle's art program.

Westside Pioneer article