Planning meetings set for St. John schools

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – At this time of year, many businesses and families alike work on their financial matters, as well as planning other non-money related goals.

The St. John Parish School System has already been looking at their budget in past months, and have also decided to look at their vision for the schools in the Parish.

Recently, the first of six strategic planning sessions, Focus on the Future was attended by more than 50 people. In attendance were school officials, staff, parents, community members and representatives of local organizations.

The next one is scheduled this Wednesday, Feb. 16, at East St. John High School, at 6:30 p.m., called “Encouraging Parental & Community Involvement.”

“These meetings are your meetings,” said Superintendent Mike Coburn, as he opened the first program. “We want, and need, your input.”

The impetus for the public forums began about seven months ago, when the school system developed a strategic planning committee. They brainstormed ideas with the school board and others regarding parental involvement, goals of the schools, etc. Coburn said this ‘Vision for the Future’ is a collaborative effort.

“They (committee) were committed to put these ideas on paper and bring them to the public,” he added.

Thus, the idea for the half dozen meetings on both the East Bank and the West Bank to reach out to parents, businesses and the community-at-large.

A short history covering the decades of change at local, state and national levels, as they reflected on the schools, was distributed in a hand-out on Thursday.Parent/community/business involvement with the schools was the topic of the first get-together. Parental involvement dominated most of the 90-minute conversation.

Parent Linda Hughes believes that neighbors and community members should help each other out when it comes to their childrens’ education. “Not everyone is able to come to these types of meetings,” she said. “I will be taking this information we are discussing back to some of them.”

information I am learning tonight back to those that couldn’t attend.”

Grandmother Blanche Watkins suggested that the school system should also look at the grandparents. They can, and in some cases are, very instrumental in the educational atmosphere of a child’s life, she said. Therefore, Watkins believes that the visions for family involvement should also include grandmothers and grandfathers.

“I stay in my grandchildrens’ schools,” she said. “You will also find many others like me. Let’s not forget about them.”

Literature was handed out during the meeting, and those in the audience were asked for input on what type of strategies could be implemented to reach the desired goals.

The locations of the remaining five meetings covering strategetic planning for visions of the future will be split. The West Bank will host three of them, while the East Bank will hold two more sessions.

Those locations, dates and topics of the strategic new directions are as follows:

East Bank

February 24 at East St. John High School, 6:30 p.m., “Communicating Expectations & Successes.”

March 7 at East St. John High School, 6:30 p.m., “Developing Resources for the Future.”

West Bank

February 16 at East St. John High School, 6:30 p.m., “Encouraging Parental & Community Involvement.”

March 3 at West St. John High School, 6:30 p.m., “Communicating Expectations & Successes.”

March 21 at West St. John High School, 6:30 p.m. “Developing Resources for the Future.”

Parish parents/grandparents, officials, school staff, community members, and businesses are encouraged to attend.