Plan includes focus on facilities, finances

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 9, 2006

School principals, board members and parents were presented with an initial draft of the Butler County Board of Education's Strategic Plan during a workshop on Monday in McKenzie.

Attendees re-visited a list of seven specific goals for the school system set forth in previous workshop meetings: school climate, academic achievement, facilities, personnel, finances/resources, extracurricular/community, and communications/public relations. Seven committees were charged with mapping out strategies to achieve success in the abovementioned goals.

A barrier many felt holding the school system back was a resistance to change from the general public, as well as the parents, students and employees.

&#8220We need to focus on changing attitudes,” said Superintendent Mike Looney. &#8220Many still feel we can educate students nine months out of the year in buildings that were built in 1909.”

An immediate need for facilities was a primary concern. Looney said the final draft of the strategic plan should include plans for meeting construction needs in Greenville, Georgiana and McKenzie on a rotating basis.

&#8220We need to develop a plan to replace our outdated facilities,” he said.

Allin Whittle, who helped lead the personnel committee, said offering potential teachers a year's worth of free housing was an attractive bonus to come to Butler County. He said it would also help counteract signing bonuses and other incentives offered by competing school systems in Florida and Georgia.

The school system's financial situation, said Looney, is an issue Butler County is going to have to address. Local tax support accounts for 11 percent of the system's funding, way below the state average, he said.

&#8220Industry is not going to come to a place that does not invest in its school system,” he said.

The next Strategic Planning workshop meeting is on March 28 at a place to be announced.