You can’t know where you are going until you know where you want to go.
That’s the driving philosophy behind Lakota Schools’ recent series of “community conversation” public meetings to gather input on the district’s next strategic plan.
About two dozen residents of Butler County’s largest school system, including some school staffers and two Lakota board members, participated in Monday evening’s meeting at Lakota Plains Junior School in Liberty Twp.
The district’s new strategic plan has been in the works for months and overall calls for a guiding document that is more student-centered with stipulations of modernizing the 16,500-student district’s learning options while also expanding career opportunities for its graduates.
“This new strategic plan holds true to our core belief that it is essential to provide a high-quality, personalized, student-centered education to every child in order to prepare them for future success,” wrote Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller in a draft of the proposed plan shown during the meeting.
The strategic plan, which would run from 2019 to 2021 if approved by the Lakota school board, “is designed to be a blueprint for Lakota’s future,” Miller said.
It also includes input from nearly 2,000 residents who have responded to an online survey conducted in recent months, he said.
The plan’s highlights include:
• “Be good stewards of our residents’ tax dollars by operating a strategically aligned and efficient budget, as fiscal responsibility is a top priority for the district.”
• Design instruction and technology systems to pilot innovative models and programs aligned with the future portrait of a Lakota graduate.
• Support personalized learning with the appropriate student technology devices and tools.
Last month — for the first time in Lakota history — the district passed out Chrome learning laptops to all its seventh and eighth grade students and plans to do the same for high school students in January.
Lakota school parent Matt Wilson said he and other residents appreciate the public meetings and opportunities to give their input on the plan and other issues in Ohio’s eighth-largest school district.
“I am excited to see how transparent the leadership is with the community,” said Wilson. “I love how the administration values the input of their teachers, staff, parents, and the students by giving us a voice in co-developing this strategic plan.”
“This is an exciting time for the Lakota school district and I am both excited and encouraged to see this strategic plan unfold,” he said after the meeting.
Lakota Board of Education President Julie Shaffer said the plan will be considered for approval at the board’s Dec. 10 meeting.
In the state’s most recent release of its annual report cards on Ohio school districts, Lakota was among the Butler County districts to receive a “B” rating — the highest achieved in the county.
But Shaffer said the board isn’t interested in “resting on our laurels” and wants that reflected in the new strategic plan.
“We want something where we have to stretch,” she said.
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