Poland school board approves committee to help guide direction of district


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

POLAND

Curriculum, facilities, and accountability to taxpayers.

These are just a few of the issues about which numerous members of the public expressed confusion, concern and frustration at a packed school board meeting Monday night.

School district leaders readily acknowledged the district’s challenges, including the difficulty of communicating complex problems to residents, and approved a plan they hope will address some of the very issues about which people are concerned.

Superintendent David Janofa will oversee the creation of a strategic planning committee, subcommittees of which will focus on: communications; curriculum and technology; finance and budgets; curricular and extracurricular programs; and buildings and grounds. The school district will recruit community members to serve on the committees.

The goal, Janofa said, is to get stakeholders involved “to create a collaborative process for shared decision-making.”

The committee is about “empowering people to come and discuss, and ultimately make recommendations to move our district forward,” he said.

Janofa plans to have details about committee meetings figured out by the end of next month.

District leaders hope the committee structure will help them answer a question they’ve been considering since last November, when a bond issue to finance construction of a new school was defeated at the polls: What next?

The school board now is considering its options for the May 2017 election, with the goal that community input play a large role in deciding what plan is best for taxpayers and students to address facility needs. The first step to that end was a community survey, the results of which were recently reported to the board and are available at polandbulldogs.com.

About 40 residents attended Monday night’s session. The back-and-forth between members of the public and school officials at times got heated, with board member Dr. Larry Dinopoulos expressing frustration with what he characterized as excessive misinformation circulating around the community.

“Come to the meetings, send your kids to Poland schools, and see what it’s all about,” he told one community member. “But I’m sick and tired of having to tell people, ‘What you’re hearing on the streets is not true.’”

Board member James Lavorini said he views the debate, and the large meeting turnout, as positive.

“It got heated tonight,” he said. “But to me, I would much rather have you come, ask questions, challenge us, and let’s get the issue out in the open so we can discuss it – as opposed to many things that are festering in the community without everybody having information.”

“It might be a bumpy road, all along the way, and that’s fine,” he said. “Because you know what? I believe we all have the same end game in mind: It’s all about making the school district as good as it can be, and providing the best education for our kids going forward.”

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