Hannibal committee continues work on planning school district’s future

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Hannibal school personnel, community stakeholders, students and parents continued to lay the groundwork for the district’s future during a meeting Jan. 16 night among the Strategic Plan Committee’s three task forces.

Divided into groups targeting student engagement, family/community engagement and academic achievement, the task forces delved into lengthy discussions to help develop a five-year blueprint for Hannibal schools.

Superintendent Donna Fountain said the open discussions and information-sharing sessions have been essential in helping create a solid foundation for the district’s future.

“Both the core team and task forces have made tremendous progress toward developing the five-year plan,” Fountain said. “We are up to date with the original timeline and meeting the goals we have set for each meeting.”

Thursday’s meeting was another step forward in the process, as the roughly two dozen task force members reviewed potential core beliefs for the district.

They zeroed in on areas such as practicing respect, creating a passion for learning, prioritizing students, setting high expectations, communicating effectively, being open to change and encouraging student-driven learning.

Although the core beliefs are still a work in progress, the accomplishments made so far have been impressive, said Penny Ciaburri, chief executive officer of PLC Associates Inc. (the consulting firm contracted to aid the district in developing its strategic plan).

The ideas, goals and concerns shared during the meetings will go a long way in making the Hannibal school system a “destination district” for those seeking a premiere learning environment, she said.

“This group has a very high level of commitment … some of best efforts I have seen and very responsive in doing everything according to protocol,” Ciaburri said. “You guys get it.”

That kind of devotion is critical for the development of a comprehensive plan, Fountain said.

“Community members provide an understanding of how the district is perceived as well as increasing community awareness of our goals and our plans to achieve our goals,” the superintendent said.

“In addition, these individuals help us to understand the needs of the community both in the present and future. We are very cognizant that these individuals lead very busy lives. To devote this much time and energy to the future of our district speaks highly of their commitment to the education of our students as well as the Hannibal community as a whole.”

As the plan begins to take shape, committee members and task force representatives are showing their dedication to the process by getting together outside of regularly scheduled meetings to examine survey results, conduct research and analyze data to compare similar districts and assess Hannibal’s specific needs.

“One of the aspects I am most impressed with is that they are looking at data, collecting best practices and examining relevant research – all before they start planning,” Ciaburri said, noting that their commitment was on display during the Jan. 16 meeting.

“They are able to identify accurate statistics from (staff, student and community) surveys,” Ciaburri said. “They even are pulling data from our State Review. These teams already ‘own’ their work. That is major for implementation.”

Armed with a workbook and a lot of data, the task forces are beginning to develop specific strategic intents for the district. This process will help set benchmarks in particular areas and specify – using quantitative data – the goals for the future when it comes to student engagement, community/family engagement and academic achievement.

“We can choose the kinds of things that will be our targets,” Ciaburri said. “You’re setting a stake in the ground and defining very clearly where we’re going to land.”

The task forces and the core committee will continue to analyze data and develop specific goals and strategies as the process moves forward. And although the development of a five-year plan can be daunting, Ciaburri said she is pleased with how well the groups are working together.

“Everyone should know, under some difficult circumstances, these teams are just pushing through,” she said. “The Hannibal community should be proud of that. It is about our kids and they know it.”

The next core team meeting will be held from 4-6:15 p.m. Jan. 23 in the Hannibal school district boardroom. Two weeks later, from 4-6:15 p.m. Feb. 6, the core team and the three task forces will meet. The committee hopes to complete the plan by March 21 and is expected to present it to the school board during a meeting April 2.

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

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