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Helmut Schmidt, Published December 25 2012

Moorhead looking to engage public in planning schools’ future

MOORHEAD – The school district is looking for 40 to 50 people to spearhead a new community engagement initiative.

Superintendent Lynne Kovash wants the group to reach out to the broader community in an effort to give residents a chance to mold the future of Moorhead’s public schools.

“We really want to engage our community, to get community feedback and community input on where we want to see Moorhead schools go in the future,” she said.

Kovash said facilities, technology initiatives, school boundaries and attracting more students all will be part of the mix.

“What kind of programs are we looking for, for our students to make them prepared for their future?” Kovash asked.

“Where do we want to go with technology? And it shouldn’t be just about technology itself, but how do we prepare students for their future in a real technological world?” she said.

The application to become part of the initiative’s core group is on the district’s web site at www.moorhead.k12.mn.us. Applications close Jan. 9.

A steering committee is to meet Jan. 14, and they’ll name the members of the core planning team of 40 to 50 people to be picked before the end of February, Kovash said.

That group will be asked to contact others in the school district. A community survey will also be commissioned, she said.

Kovash said she’d like a cross-section of the community on the core committee, including business people, civic and political leaders, parents and people without children in school.

“People who are interested in Moorhead and want the best for Moorhead’s future,” Kovash said.

The goal is to have a report to the school board by the close of this school year in June, she said.

The last time the district focused on strategic planning was 2007, Kovash said.

She said with the increasing pace of change in the area, planning further out than five years is difficult.

Kovash said the district’s K-12 enrollment is about 5,600 students but has grown the past two years.

If enrollment growth continues, the elementary schools could get crowded. Also, more classrooms would be needed if all-day kindergarten were approved for Moorhead schools, Kovash said.

“How do we respond to that?” she asked.

Kovash emphasized it is important to get district residents without children in the public schools involved in the process.

“How do we keep them invested and believing in our schools?” she asked.

“Strong schools, strong community. I truly believe that,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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