Gazette opinion: Tell trustees your ideas for Billings schools

2010-02-18T00:00:00Z Gazette opinion: Tell trustees your ideas for Billings schools The Billings Gazette
February 18, 2010 12:00 am

If you’ve got 10 minutes, you can be part of planning the future of Billings Public Schools.

Billings trustees are asking community members to give their opinions in a short online survey by answering six questions:

1. What should the core purpose of Billings Public Schools be?

2. What core values should Billings Public Schools stand for?

3. What is your envisioned future for Billings Public Schools?

4. If you could change one thing about Billings Public Schools, what would it be?

5. What is one thing about Billings Public Schools you would not want to change?

6. Please indicate any additional goals or desires you have for Billings Public Schools.

With the help of a 20-person volunteer steering committee, trustees want to update the district’s mission statement to ensure that it is in tune with community desires and that all the district’s work aligns with its mission. Here’s what the district’s current mission statement says:

In partnership with our community, the mission of Billings Public Schools is to educate individuals of all ages to become caring, competent, and contributing members of the community and world.

The district previously identified these goals:

• Provide for facility improvement and maintenance.

• Evaluate and celebrate student achievement.

• Enhance community relationships and involvement in the district.

• Address financial resource needs at the state and local level.

The survey will be online at the Billings Public Schools Web site — www.billingsschools.org — until 5 p.m. March 1. The Montana School Boards Association then will compile the comments, which will be reviewed by the steering committee at its meeting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 6 at Lincoln Education Center. Later this spring, the committee will hold forums for gathering additional public comment.

Trustees Barbara Bryan and Peter Gesuale agreed that the strategic plan probably won’t make huge changes in the district’s mission. But they said it is important to get community input to establish the district’s core values and purpose, which will set the foundation for the plan.

Notices about the survey were sent home with elementary students. High school students are being encouraged to complete the survey. Several local organizations, including the hospitals, Chamber of Commerce and Big Sky Economic Development Authority are encouraging staff and members to participate.

“We want to reach a really wide cross section of the community,” Bryan said.

The planning process is expected to produce a strategic plan that can guide the district for the decade and provide a vision for the more distant future, Gesuale said.

“This provides the opportunity for the community to take charge of their ownership of their schools,” Superintendent Jack Copps said.

Almost 500 people answered the survey the first day it was online. Got a gripe, accolade or suggestion for your school district? Speak up by March 1 at www.billingsschools.org.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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