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Frazee Schools may go with strategic planning

While the Frazee-Vergas School District has set goals in the past, the school board is contemplating creating a strategic plan -- and hiring someone to guide that process -- to reach those goals.

Bruce Miles of Big River Consulting spoke to the board Monday night, telling them about the value of staking out an end result for five years down the road, for example, and making a plan to get to that final goal.

When describing the difference between setting goals and having a strategic plan in place, Miles said it's the community input that's important because "all of us are smarter than any one of us."

So his main piece of the puzzle discussed Monday was having input from school staff and the community as to where the school should be going and where it will be in a period of time from now, using five years as an example.

He said community members and school staff internally and externally can weigh in on what's working in the district and what's not working.

From there, the board would come together, review the results of the survey (which Miles would conduct via the Internet so it would be anonymous) and decide on the district's goals.

He said there should be goals for the district as a whole and goals for individuals within the district.

In his experience, Miles said, "the employees outweigh the community drastically" in the survey, but it's important to have input from both.

"What are people really thinking," is what should be answered, he said.

The more people that are asked, the more feedback the board will receive.

"It's goal-setting with a lot more input from folks."

Miles suggested, as other districts have done, two questions can be asked in the survey -- what are three things that the district is doing well, and what are three things that the district needs to improve.

Miles' proposal fee for the work would be about $7,200. He said he can conduct the survey, gather the information and bring it back to the board. Or, he can get someone else to conduct the work.

He likened his services to a restaurant menu -- "only order what you need."

After Miles' presentation, the board didn't discuss whether or not to move forward with the strategic planning, but is expected to address the issue next month.

Other board action

• A communications task force with the Frazee Forum will not be formed. Board member Rich Ziegler said he talked to newspaper co-owner Gale Kaas and that she "believes interaction with the district is improving and is happy with that," he said.

So, "that is the end of that issue," he added.

• Board member Keith Janu said he contacted the Minnesota Department of Education to discuss Q Comp and instituting it at Frazee.

But, he said, the school board is merely "a supportive function to the FEA (Frazee Education Association), but the ultimate decision is the FEA."

"It's well worth looking into it, and that's why we're doing it," he added.

• The board approved the first reading of a policy that would allow 5-year-old students with birthdays from Sept. 2-Dec. 31 into the district.

The district previously followed state statute, which sets to cutoff date at Sept. 1, but the statute allows for districts to set their own policy if they chose to do so.

To be accepted in, students will have to go through testing, and it will be done on a case-by-case issue.