Hannibal schools chart course for future

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Uniting with a common vision, members of the Hannibal Central School District Plan Committee discussed the district’s blueprint for the future at a meeting Oct. 3.

The newly formed committee, comprised of nearly 30 people from all walks of life, outlined their goals and hopes for the district as it moves forward into the future.

Spending more than two hours brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another, the meeting was the first of several that will be held throughout the year to help develop a strategic plan to guide the district during the next five years.

Penny Ciaburri, chief executive officer of PLC Associates Inc., the consulting firm contracted to help the district develop the strategic plan, said the initial meeting was a resounding success.

“They’re absolutely on fire,” Ciaburri said of the committee. “They jumped right in. They are having the important conversations, looking to take advantage of best practices.”

Committee members talked about some of the key factors that lead to a successful district.

Ideas ranged from ways to increase student engagement, boost academic achievement and strengthen the family and community connection — all of which will be further addressed by three separate task forces in developing the overall strategic plan.

District superintendent Donna Fountain noted that reaching that benchmark is one of the many goals she envisions the district achieving in the years ahead.

“I think Hannibal can honestly become a shining star, not just in our community, but across the state,” Fountain said. “Hannibal can become a destination district. People can move here for the education that we offer.”

Committee member Jill Rice, who has children enrolled in seventh and eighth grade at Hannibal, believes the district has a solid foundation that can become even stronger through the strategic plan and community involvement.

“It starts at home,” Rice said. “It’s imperative as soon as (students) hit pre-K to let them know that their potential is limitless.”

With educational success and student growth as key components of the plan, committee members also developed a list of advocating and opposing factors facing the district.

“We need to find out what do we have in our favor, what’s holding us back and how strong those forces are,” Ciaburri said. “A huge advocating force is that we, as an organization, have decided to build a strategic plan.”

Fairley Elementary staff member Dawn Thompson reviewed a variety of factors that her group added to its list, ranging from student expectations and strong leadership to resources and socioeconomic issues.

“There have been many impoverished districts that have soared,” Thompson said as she looked over the list where the advocating forces more than doubled the opposing forces. “The good guys get a win.”

Thompson’s optimism was shared by her fellow committee members, as each offered their positive outlook concerning the process in developing the district’s blueprint for the future.

Words like hopeful, inspired, empowered, invigorated, enthusiastic and refreshing were commonly spoken as each member assessed the first meeting.

“In my 16 years here, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a group come together like this with such a definitive and worthy goal,” Fairley principal Jody Musa said.

“A group of ordinary people, if given the right tools, can do some extraordinary things, and that’s what I think you’re going to do,” she told the committee. “It’s a very thoughtful and reflective process that will help put in place a blueprint so that five years from now we’re telling the Hannibal story.”

The next core committee meeting will be held from 4 to 6:15 p.m. Nov. 7 in the district boardroom. Task forces are set to meet Nov. 19.

The anticipated completion date for the overall plan is March 21, followed by a presentation to the school board at 7:15 p.m. April 9.

For more information on the process or to become involved, email internal facilitator Tammy Farrell at tfarrell@hannibalcsd.org or call 564-7900, ext. 3004.

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