Lakewood OH

Schools seeking public input for strategic plan

By Jeff Gallatin

North Olmsted

School officials have set a community forum for Oct. 10 at North Olmsted High School in an effort to see what roads people believe the district should go down in the future.

Officials set the time for the public meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Superintendent Mike Zalar emphasized that the public is invited and that district officials are seeking a strong turnout.

“We are really interested in engaging the community in a discussion about the future of the district,” he said. “Everyone will have a chance to share their ideas and have their opinions heard.”

Zalar said the district is at a critical time and wants input from the public.

“I believe the North Olmsted City Schools and community are at a crossroads,” he said. “It is critical that we develop a shared vision of what kind of education we want to provide our children. Times have changed. What worked yesterday will not necessarily work today. We need to make sure our schools are capable of preparing kids with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need for success in the 21st century. The strategic plan will serve as a road map to the future.”

Zalar’s predecessor, interim Superintendent Terry Krivak, outlined plans for a strategic planning process that included discus-

sions on a wide range of district facility ideas. He put forth the potential ideas of building a new high school, using the current high school as a middle school, consolidating other schools and shifting grades to different schools, and other related ideas.

“I am excited to continue the strategic planning process that was started last spring,” Zalar said. “There is a good foundation in place. What we need to do now is to involve the community and get their thoughts and ideas about the future direction of the school district.”

North Olmsted school board Vice President Terry Groden noted recent developments such as the razing of the middle school annex to create a better traffic pattern through that area, as well as the North Olmsted Stadium Foundation’s efforts to raise $1.5 million to put field turf at the district’s stadium and do other renovations at district athletic facilities. Groden said district officials are looking for the best ways to move ahead.

“We could use the foundation’s work as a springboard for bettering not only the district but the community as a whole,” he said. “The recent improvements as well as the plans for the stadium will better the community and create some great possibilities for the district.”

Groden said another important issue is looming on the horizon for the district.

“We are going to have to address our technology needs,” he said. “We’re going get close to a time when the state is saying we will have do our testing online.”

Groden noted the Ohio School Boards Association is lobbying the state to seek additional time for districts to implement the technology needed to do the testing online.

“We are going to have to find the best way to do that for our district,” he said. “That certainly needs to be part of any discussion about the district’s future and its facilities.”

Groden said there are other facility needs as well.

“In addition to the growing technology needs, we also need to take a look at providing facilities where the physical environment is more comfortable, which would make it more conducive to learning,” he said. “Simply put, students and teachers in our schools had to endure some pretty uncomfortable days at the beginning of the year when temperatures topped 90 degrees.”




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