“Think like a taxpayer that has no children and grandchildren in our school system.” This is a line that I throw at our district level administrative team every year as they plan their goals and strategies for improvement.
Even though they know it’s coming, I often get blank stares as a response to this request. We seem to always fall short of making all our taxpayers see and feel the value of an excellent school system. This year will be different. The entire Georgetown Board of Education and I set goals annually. One of our 5 goals this school year is to engage our community.
Board of education goals for the 2015-16 school year:
• Engage our community, specifically those that have no connection to the school;
• Maintain 80 days cash in the General Fund ($22,500 is what it takes to run the district for one day);
• Ninety percent proficiency for third grade reading and math;
• Ninety-six percent graduation rate and increase our college credit offerings on our campus by 25 percent;
• One-hundred percent student growth academically.
It is my hope that there will be a day when every citizen that resides in our school district opens up their annual tax statement and feels a sense of pride in knowing that they are contributing to a school system that adds value to the community as a whole.
I want to be able to knock on doors or make phone calls to any of our taxpayers and ask them the question, “How does the school system add value to the community,” and have 100 percent of the people be able to rattle off four to five responses without hesitating. Is that a lofty goal? Yes!
Strong schools equal strong communities and strong communities create strong schools. It’s a relationship that cannot exist without all stakeholders believing that they are collectively making a difference for one another.
Excellent school systems are active in the community, attract new families, new businesses, new investments and ultimately increase the value of all the property in the entire community.
Excellent communities believe that the local schools are doing everything within their power to provide a world-class educational system for the youth and have a core belief that the greatest investment they can make is to developing young minds.
I was talking to a salesman earlier this week on the phone that lived in a suburban district on the outskirts of Cincinnati. He shared a story that resonated with me. He said, “My wife and I just bought a house in this district so our kids could go to school here. They do not have open-enrollment, so you have to be a resident of the district to attend their school system. We moved from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom house. We sold one of our cars to eliminate a payment in order to afford the downsized home we bought. It’s all worth it, though, because our kids are now able to attend great schools.”
It starts with us. We must believe that our work is far greater than teaching x’s and o’s. We have an obligation and a responsibility to be the hub of learning for our entire community.
Throughout this year, you will see and hear about community service projects our students and staff are doing. Our students and staff will provide opportunities for adult learning and exercise opportunities on our campus. You will see our student council, our character development classes (40 developmental assets), our Art Club and Drama Club engaged and connecting with our senior citizen population.
John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
As we open next school year, I will hit all of our staff and students with a similar message of, “Ask not what our community can do for us, but what we can do to build a rock solid community in which everyone wants to call home.”
If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns about Georgetown Exempted Village Schools or just education in general, please give me a call or send me an email.