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Delayed SSD strategy talks begin tonight

January 23, 2013


The Starkville School District will hold the first of four meetings to develop its strategic plan 6 p.m. Thursday in Starkville High School Theatre, informing stakeholders of the district’s current status to help them make suggestions to move the district forward.

The meeting was originally set for the previous Thursday at the same time and location, but SSD schools closed that day due to potentially hazardous winter weather, including snowfall.

Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway said these meetings will convene 40 stakeholders selected from the community and 30 stakeholders selected from among SSD employees.

The SSD will serve dinner to these stakeholders at 6 p.m. in the SHS library before formally beginning discussion at 6:30 p.m.

Holloway said this first session will serve primarily to inform stakeholders of where the district currently stands on matters including finance, staffing, technology, test scores, instruction, curriculum, buildings and facilities. Because of the large quantity of information involved, he said he has asked stakeholders to bring their smartphones and email the district any questions they have.

“We intend to answer those questions over the next week and hopefully get an electronic dialogue going,” Holloway said.

He said stakeholders will also be asked to answer two key questions before the second meeting Feb. 21: “What do you value most in the SSD?” and “What do you believe are the top three priorities of the SSD?”

He said Phil Hardwick, coordinator of capacity development at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development, will oversee this second session, where stakeholders will help the SSD develop its mission, vision and values. The SSD Board of Directors has discussed these three items before, Holloway said, but it is looking to incorporate more stakeholder feedback.

At the third meeting on March 21, Holloway said the SSD and stakeholders will discuss what goals the district wants to achieve and what resources it has to achieve them.

Finally, on April 11, the SSD and stakeholders will discuss strategies to achieve those goals.

“We’re targeting that this group will be done by April 11, then on April 12 through May 13, we will get it to the parent-teacher organizations,” Holloway said. “Hopefully by May 14, we will have it to the school board for final approval. That doesn’t say we might not get bogged down with some issues and have to amend our timeline.”

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