Howard schools developing new five-year plan that will revise one from 1985

September 13, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Despite a strategic plan that has made Howard County's one of the top school systems in the state, school officials are looking for changes to prepare the school system for the next century.

School officials are asking for as much advice as possible from school system employees, parents and other residents in developing Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's new, five-year "Toward the Year 2000" plan.

"I don't know of any business that doesn't plan five to 10 years down the line," Dr. Hickey said.

"We're the biggest business in the county. There's a lot at stake."

School officials will close school 2 1/2 hours early on Oct. 26 so teachers and staff members can begin discussing where they would like to go in the next century.

"Toward the Year 2000," tentatively scheduled for completion in December, will mark a revision of the larger, ambitious plan of the same name developed in 1985, one year after Dr. Hickey took office.

Among the many goals of the original plan were improved student academic performance, improved parent-school ties and improved school-business relationships.

That plan, developed with suggestions from more than 300 people, needs revision, Dr. Hickey said.

"There's a feeling there's too many demands being placed on the schools, on the teachers themselves," he said.

"I think people are feeling the demands."

Next month's planning day is intended to help produce about a half-dozen goals that could lead to changes in school system initiatives, budgeting and planning.

Those goals will identify areas where "if push comes to shove, this is where the resources are going to go," Dr. Hickey said.

The superintendent said the process will let residents and school officials look critically at the original plan, which he said has achieved its goals.

"This school system didn't get to be one of the top school systems in the state . . . by accident," Dr. Hickey said.

L The 1985 plan "was the general design that brought us here."

Nevertheless, about 20 school administrators agreed at a retreat last spring that changes were needed.

"What's made us successful to this point will not make us successful in the future," said Associate Superintendent Sandra Erickson.

A planning session Oct. 3 will include discussions with all secondary school principals and teacher representatives.

Similar sessions will be held Oct. 19 with elementary school principals and teacher representatives.

Principals and teachers then will go to their schools Oct. 26, the day students will get out early, to lead discussions with other staff members. One curriculum supervisor will be available at each school to help.

Parents and community members will be able to take part in community forums from 8:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 22 and Nov. 5; and from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 25 and Nov. 6.

"We're asking everyone to jump in and help design it, and be honest and forthright about what needs to be done," Ms. Erickson said.

More forums may be held if there is enough demand, school officials said. In January, school staff members will make a report to school board members about the forum.

Plans may be implemented as early as the 1995-1996 school year.

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