D90 readies next steps in strategic plan

District 90 update

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By BILL DWYER


The River Forest School District 90 board looked to the future during their last meeting of 2004, finalizing plans for five committees that will assume primary responsibility for moving the district ahead in five key focus areas over the next 3-4 years.

Those five areas?#34;Fiscal, Curriculum and Instruction, Staff Growth and Development, Technology, and School Climate?#34;will be studied by groups comprised of board members, school staff, and other interested individuals. While separate in focus, all five committees are ultimately interconnected, with finances, technology and overall school climate being the common threads running through every area of concern.

At the November board meeting, officials came to quick agreement that action on long-term fiscal planning was paramount. Two other planning committees have been up and running since September?#34;Curriculum and Instruction and Technology.

The Curriculum Committee will develop and evaluate curriculum maps for all grade levels by the 2007-08 school year. As part of that process, they will work to integrate technology into the curriculum wherever appropriate. The Technology Committee, meanwhile, will be working to develop a 3-year technology plan for approval by the board and subsequent approval by state and federal school officials. Another key goal is to connect parents, students, staff, and administrators via technology, and to develop a financial plan for the purchase of hardware and software, along with upgrading and maintenance of that technology.

This winter a group will be organized to develop a plan for designing and fostering staff growth and development. They will focus on recommending shared innovations and best practices to be used by school staff and will also work to develop relationships with local universities to offer advanced degrees for Dist. 90 staff. In addition, they will put together a 3-year staff development plan for integrating technology as a learning tool for students.

The final two committees will be constituted by next fall.

The first task of the Climate Committee will be to craft district-wide value statements for all three schools. They will also work to create opportunities for staff development, and parent and student enrichment. One of the goals of such a school climate is to help ensure a smooth transition for both students and their parents as those students move from grade school to middle school environments, and from middle school to a high school environment.

The Fiscal Committee will be charged with identifying all possible solutions to the district's "current negative financial projections." That may include a tax hike referendum in November of 2006. Back in November, the board had agreed that "fiscal matters should move to the top," in terms of priority. At that time they spent over an hour in a wide-ranging discussion of ways to proceed. While both Superintendent Marlene Kamm and Dist. 90 Business Manager Anthony Cozzi emphasized then that a tax referendum was not inevitable, the board ultimately decided to seat the committee in September, rather than April so as to avoid losing momentum for a possible referendum in 2006.

 contact: bdwyer@wjinc.com

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