The Herald Bulletin

June 13, 2013

ACS to have strategic planning workshop

Public invited to observe proceedings

By Dani Palmer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Wanting to plan for the near and down the road future, Anderson Community Schools will be holding a strategic planning workshop on Friday that will be, for the first time, open to the public.

Superintendent Felix Chow said the workshop is usually done in the summer during professional development. This year, administration wanted to open it up to more parties and will be working with both the school board and Anderson Federation of Teachers.

The public will not be allowed to interact, but is welcome to come and observe. The meeting starts at 8 a.m. Friday and ends at 2 p.m. in the Administrative building, 1600 Hillcrest Ave.

”The whole idea is to set direction for the next five years,” Chow said.

He expects the meeting to develop a new vision and mission statement, but added it will be initiatives they cogitate. Chow said he wants the administration, AFT and school board to work together to develop a clear sense of direction for the district and community so when someone asks, they can tell them exactly what ACS represents.

”On one hand, (the administration already has) some ideas,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s intended to be an open-minded discussion.”

A couple of years ago, the district had a deficit to close before it could concentrate on anything else.

Now, Chow said, the focus is on academic performance. For example, all of Highland Middle School’s eighth-graders passed the Algebra I End of Course Assessments, but not all of the high schoolers did. The question is, what’s a good goal and how can the district accomplish it?

School board member Tim Long said he’d like to discuss the inclusion of more technical courses. Advanced Placement courses for college credit are important, he said, but not all students plan to go to a university.

He said certifications or apprenticeships can help graduates enter entry-level jobs “above and beyond pushing a broom or unloading a tractor-trailer.” Jobs that pay well and are in high demand, like welding that’s already offered at Anderson High School through Ivy Tech Community College.

”There are a number of areas where something less than a four-year college degree can get the job done,” Long said.

And employers are coming to Anderson looking for those skills, he added.

Then there are other changes, like economics, socioeconomics, contractual agreements, enrollment increases and education legislation to prepare for, he added.

He said the district has “a lot of things in the embryonic stage” that those involved need to decide whether to continue.

Long added that the district’s been “so busy firefighting” changes in education and finances that an overall plan has not yet been made, so now’s the time “to come up with a plan and a set of directions” for ACS.

”We’re laying the foundation in this meeting,” he said.

Chow said there will likely be follow-up meetings to discuss the topics in further detail.

”Something like this is not a one-time deal,” he said. “It’s very rare in one meeting to set direction (so) everything is clear.”

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If you go Who: Anderson Community Schools administration What: Strategic planning workshop When: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, June 14 Where: Administrative building, 1600 Hillcrest Ave. Note: The public can observe, but not interact