Poland school board moves forward with strategic plan

By Jordyn Grzelewski



The school board is moving forward with development of a strategic plan for the district.

At a meeting Monday night, the board hired Chordas Studios of Youngstown to help develop a plan.

Chordas Studios, led by Youngstown State instructor Ronald Chordas, has developed plans for the Diocese of Youngstown, the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Ursuline High School and the Rich Center for Autism.

Board member Robert Shovlin, citing concerns about cost, cast the sole dissenting vote. The district has agreed to pay Chordas $100 per hour for up to 100 hours.

“I’m totally for the strategic plan, but not for $10,000,” Shovlin said.

District leaders hope the process – which will involve school officials, staff members and members of the public – will build consensus about the district’s direction.

“We hope to get a vision and goals that the community and the board have come together on,” said board member Dr. Larry Dinopoulos. “We want everybody involved.”

That includes community members who have been critical of district officials, Dinopoulos said.

“The key for this is the community. It’s their school district. It’s not ours,” he said.

The first step in the process will be to invite various stakeholders – board members, Superintendent David Janofa, district staff members and community members – to form an executive planning committee. Subgroups composed of “interested staff and community stakeholders” will form to focus on finance, facilities, technology, curriculum and communication/marketing. An informational workshop, which is open to the public, is planned for Jan. 18.

Anyone interested in participating in one of the groups should contact Dinopoulos at LDinopoulos@polandschools.org.

The plan, which will be the district’s first formal strategic plan, is scheduled to be complete by the end of September.

The start of strategic planning follows a period of uncertainty in the district. After Poland voters overwhelmingly rejected a bond issue to build new facilities last year, district officials have been considering their next step to address facility needs. A citizens group recently formed to draw attention to concerns some community members have about the direction of the schools.

“We’ve tried to identify a problem. We provided a solution that wasn’t supported. We understand that,” said Janofa. “But the problems have not gone away,” so it’s time with meet with community stakeholders to come up with solutions.

In other business, the board unanimously approved the appointment of Lisa Iberis as assistant principal for McKinley Elementary and Poland Middle School for the rest of the school year.

Iberis works for the Mahoning County Educational Service Center as a curriculum consultant. That role had her spending about 80 percent of her time at Poland schools.

She will take on the assistant principal job temporarily, due to the upcoming retirement of McKinley’s principal and uncertainty about how a school consolidation plan will affect McKinley next school year.

Janofa is in the process of negotiating the terms of an agreement in which the school district will reimburse the ESC for the cost to temporarily reassign Iberis’ normal duties. Janofa estimated it will cost the district an additional $7,500 on top of what the district already pays the ESC for its wide-ranging contracted services.

Also, the board approved resolutions to put two levy renewals – a $2.2 million emergency levy, and a 1-mill permanent improvement levy – on the May 2017 primary-election ballot.

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