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By STEVEN NALLEY
Starkville School District will hold the second of four public strategic planning meetings at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn, using stakeholder feedback to develop a new mission, vision and set of values for the district.
Lewis Holloway, SSD superintendent, said discussing these three items would give stakeholders input on new statements for each to be posted throughout the school district. He said the mission, vision and values would also give SSD a clear direction for the rest of the strategic planning process.
â€śYouâ€™ve got to have values and principles before you can move into specifics,â€ť Holloway said. â€ś(We are holding this meeting) to make sure the community and the school district are aligned in what we want for education and where we want to go.â€ť
The SSD Board of Trustees will also hold a called meeting at noon Thursday to hear a final report on the 2012 fiscal year audit.
â€śThe district was behind in its audit,â€ť Holloway said. â€śThis is an audit of last school yearâ€™s budget, which brings us up to date in audit reports.â€ť
Phil Hardwick, coordinator of capacity development at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development, will facilitate the strategic planning meeting, and Holloway said Hardwick had extensive experience working with schools and other organizations in this capacity. Hardwick said he had worked with schools in Jackson, Tupelo and Tennessee, and he had conducted forums on such community issues as the public debt through the Kettering Foundation.
â€śMy job is to make sure the school district gets the information from the community in such a way where all voices are heard,â€ť Hardwick said. â€śWhat we donâ€™t want to have is one of those agenda-filled meetings where people come up and spout off their particular agenda.â€ť
As such, Hardwick said he planned for stakeholders and members of the public to break into groups at the meeting. The stakeholders SSD assembles for these meetings include elected officials, business officials, teachers, parents and more, and Hardwick said he wanted these different types of stakeholders to mingle in these groups.
â€śThey need to be at the same table, literally, with people who are not in their stakeholder group,â€ť Hardwick said. â€śThis is one method; sometimes it is more appropriate to have stakeholder groups divided (by type). In this case, I donâ€™t think weâ€™re going to do it that way.â€ť
At the previous stakeholder meeting Jan. 24, SSD officials gave status reports on various matters, including finance, staffing, technology, test scores, instruction, curriculum, buildings and facilities. Stakeholders submitted questions about these reports via e-mail and smart phone, and they also submitted their thoughts on what the SSDâ€™s top three priorities should be.
Holloway said the top three priorities stakeholders gave were retention and attraction of quality faculty, raising graduation rates and ensuring access to learning materials for faculty. Hardwick said these priorities were common among school district stakeholders he had worked with.