School study talks resume

Members of the Metropolitan School District of Wabash County board hear a presentation from Administrator Assistance during their Feb. 6 meeting. Photo by Josh Sigler

By Josh Sigler

The Metropolitan School District of Wabash County school board got the ball rolling on its independent study of academic advancement in a lengthy work session Monday, Feb.6, hearing a presentation from a consultant as the board tries to feel out where it goes next.

The board released a statement for it’s purpose of the study, stating: “Leaders in business have long recognized the value of strategic planning. Strategic planning requires a clear understanding of where an organization is at the present time and an equally clear vision of where it wants to go in the future. Education is not different. MSD of Wabash County is in excellent health. We are academically and financially strong. With great confidence we look forward to providing a superior education for every student. We have been proactive in our decision making to the benefit of our district; therefor, we are asking ourselves a simple question: What should we do today to make a strong district even stronger?

“Each element of the study will be from the vantage point of what is best for the students and taxpayers of MSD, the statement continued. “Our goal is providing the best education with the stewardship of our resources. This goal is achievable with solid strategic planning and the continued dedication of the district’s valuable employees.”

The board then heard a presentation from Administrator Assistance, and education consulting company. Creator Steve Wittenauer said the group’s motto is to help schools solve problems.

“If you went to our website, you’d be able to see everyone that’s on our team, a lot of schools we’ve worked for and the things we’ve done. We’ve done a lot of strategic plans, and we see this as nothing more than creating a strategic plan (for MSD),” Wittenauer said. “We want to get the community involved to be part of that plan. We hope to come up with something at the end that they can either endorse, alter, or whatever the case might be with some ideas and recommendations at the end.”

Superintendent Mike Keaffaber said he liked the fact that Administrator Assistance, if commissioned to do the study, would seek out community input.

“I think it’s important that we do the face to face – it’s almost like a climate audit to see what our constituents and community are wanting us to look at,” Keffaber said.

Board member Todd Topliff said his biggest concern is what the consultant-school board relationship might cost.

“Barring that, I think what they bring to the table  -- I did like the fact that they will try to include not just the school board and administrators, but also surrounding communities’ schools along with community members, whether it be the chamber of commerce and other leaders in the community,” Topliff said. “They get a say in a part of this because we’re here for them as well. I think there needs to be on our side as school board MSD – we need to reach out to the surrounding school systems to make sure they’re willing to participate. Because if it’s a one-sided study, it’s a wasted study. We need to have all parties involved to make sure it’s a legitimate study that can come back with legitimate recommendations or proposals.”

The board has other options it would like to weigh before it commits to hiring Administrator Assistance to commission an advancing academics study.

“There are other entities that do this, and so we may or may not do that,” Keaffaber said. “You like to compare. You like to see. I was impressed with this group. They do have a lot of people – not just two or three or four people that they (had at Tuesday’s meeting), but they talked about they have a group or cadre of 35 people. It takes a lot of knowledge, and they talked about the 1,500 years of experience they have. I’m very, very impressed, but it’s good to look at other vendors.”

Posted on 2018 Feb 13